Augmented Reality is the ability to add digital elements in order to perceive a live view with the help of a camera. It may or may not interact with the elements in the live view. However, the presence of a live view is what differentiates it from Virtual Reality. Augmented reality in marketing, ecommerce and advertising is the next Big Things and coupled with AI in ecommerce, it is ready to shake things up!
Augmented Reality in Marketing
Apart from a few AR specific apps, an ideal example of augmented reality app is the popular social media platform, Snapchat. The app offers camera masking filters that allow users to augment their reality while having fun. Moreover, AR applications are expanding throughout industries such as healthcare, medicine, astronomy, education, and businesses like wildfire in 2019.
How AR Is Reshaping The Way We Experience The World?
In this ever-evolving world, the boundaries between science fiction and science fact is rapidly blurring. What we imagined a decade ago, is now a reality and what we are imaging now might go into common use within the next decade or even earlier! A great example of this point is the vast improvements in the smartphone specifications in 2018 that now strongly affect the shopping experience of the average Joe and Jane.
The reason for this change in shopping experience is the breakthrough in businesses as synergy is now visible between technology and marketing strategies, transforming it into a complete shopping experience. Coupled with the AI powered ecommerce tools, the impact of AR powered ecommerce campaigns will completely revolutionize user experience.
The experience of shopping online has become far more immediate. Yes, ‘immediate’ is a word one needs to remember to stay relevant in today’s world. At least, that’s what pops up on a simple Google search anyway.
For instance, the average Joe and Jane decide to go on a recreational shopping trip. Joe needs a new jacket for his winter wear wardrobe, and Jane is all set on changing her mobile subscription package to cater to her new job. She needs to be online more often to manage Facebook pages in order to respond to customers timely.
Here’s how their shopping experience is so very different from yours…
They decide to step out to a nearby mall and window-shop to check out the jackets and mobile subscription offers. Joe steps into the store and stands at a point identified with an X mark on the floor. He follows the instructions and faces towards a mirror as he slips out his smartphone and switches on the camera. Focusing on the mirror, he sees a loading screen and a jacket appears on his reflection in the camera screen. After trimming and adjusting the virtual jacket through the screen, Joe poses in a few profiles to see the jacket displayed upon his reflection.
Jane, on the other hand, enters a stall and stands at the marked space. She sees a screen lower down to interact with and a marked padded area illuminates to guide her to place her smartphone. She places it as instructed and unlocks the screen to start the demo of the offered subscription packages.
After completing a quick survey, the system records her requirements and a demo phone appear before her on the screen. After clicking it, she browses a few websites and starts streaming videos, a data counter appears on the top right corner showing her how her data usage would potentially look like with this subscription package. Satisfied by the performance and budget, Jane places her thumb on her phone’s fingerprint scanner and activates the new package by tapping Yes.
This scenario highlights how augmented reality in marketing caters to users looking for a tangible product like Joe or an intangible product like Jane. The applications heavily depend on the way how developers and vendors market their AR applications and their approach towards the user experience.
Now try to rerun the above scenario but add AI and machine learning applications in ecommerce to the mix. In this new scenario, the system is able to learn more about Jane and cross match her requirements with similar customer profiles. As a result, Jane will see more personalized options that would cover the bulk of her present and probable future requirements.
The Rising Trend Of AR
According to a survey, the likelihood of a successful online sales conversion is about 40% if a consumer is able to view the product in AR. Furthermore, the AR industry is expecting to see revenue growth of $120 billion by 2020 as technological infrastructure begins to expand globally.
The primary reason behind it is the customers’ readiness to customize and personalize their shopping experience using AR.
About 63% of customers believe that augmented reality in marketing will add great value to their shopping experience. On the flip side, traditional retail stores are likely to see a 22% decrease in customers because they lack the competitive advantage of providing an AR experience.
Within the ecommerce industry, AR integrations have helped businesses reached major milestones in recent half a decade. Magic Leap, a proprietary wearable technology company that develops AR projects has recently stepped in the limelight with its $1.4 billion funding. The company has been working on producing compact AR glasses since 2015 – however, the product is still in development phase.
That’s not all that happened in 2015. Apple, the Cupertino giant acquired Metaio and shifted gear to get a headstart in the AR game with their focus towards developing the technology ecosystem. Apple has recently unveiled a mask filter for their camera. The feature creates a cartoon character that masks the movement of the subject in the front camera. However, this update is available for iPhone 7 and newer smartphones to boost sales and encourage Apple fans to upgrade their smartphones/tablets.
Predictions About AR Beyond 2019
When we delve deeper into the applications of augmented reality in marketing and advertising, a number of potential adoption and application scenarios come to mind. According to Novica Gijevski, the owner of MotivaNova says that multiple industries will see the application of AR including military, education, medical research, marketing, safety, arts, and architecture.
Another user, Tracy Morgan highlights the possible collaborations of AR with video games due to the vast space for creativity. She explains how the success story of Pokemon GO is legit proof that it is time to integrate AR into the daily routine of laymen. In fact, gaming consoles, Windows applications, iOS and dedicated AR/VR platforms now all feature games in AR.
Interestingly, augmented reality in marketing and now ecommerce, has made its presence in smartphones, real estate, and most marketplaces. Google introduced its version of AR with the launch of Google Glass back in 2012, that received a lot of criticism and skepticism, probably because it was a bit ahead of its time. However, the recent adaptation of AR suggests that there has been a paradigm shift.
The future is fashionable eyewear, contact lenses or even bionic eyes with immersive 3D displays, conjuring up a digital layer to “augment” reality, enabling entire new classes of applications and user experiences.
Various ecommerce platforms integrate their products with augmented reality features so that customers can easily perceive the product in its existing design. Furthermore, the dimensions of these products remain as close to ensure that minimal discrepancies occur when a potential buyer views this product in the real-life setting.
AR has already started to make its presence more dominating in industries related to computer-aided design, engineering and now in emerging marketing strategies, namely advertising. What started as an engineering and architectural tool that required specialized computer systems, has now with the rise of technology become more easily accessible by most smartphone owners.
Best Examples Of Augmented Reality Gear Providers
Last year, Apple unveiled a quick AR plugin on the Safari browser of an iOS 12 updated device. The spokesman also mentioned how this changes the playing field for the organization, as it doesn’t require an additional app or a clunky headset to view these 3D models. Apple has plans of working with AR Quick Look, HORNE and Pure Cycles to feature these AR experiences.
Shopify, a Canadian ecommerce platform launched it’s AR feature in November of 2018. The company explained in its blog that the feature helps customers interact with the product, by providing them with a more realistic sense of scale and dimensions. Sellers can create these 3D models using the 3D Warehouse app.
Other big players like Facebook, Oculus, Microsoft, HTC/Valve, Sony and Samsung have also started working on AR compatibility with their upcoming devices. The tech giants believe that this is the future. This trend is further buoyed by Alibaba’s announcement of pushing VR and AR experience on their ecommerce platform.
Layar, Blippar, Augment, Total Immersion, and Marxent are upcoming players in the AR space with significant product and application level contributions. These relatively small scale development labs have been working on AR projects to disrupt the ecommerce industry with a bang.
The Future of Augmented Reality in Marketing
Over the past decade, we’ve seen a number of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality ventures fading away sooner than expected. However, these brave ventures have paved the way forward for others in the industry.
The era of Augmented Reality in advertising and marketing begun with the advancements in technological infrastructure. Companies continue to adapt the AR technology and push forward to provide a vivid experience of their products and services to the end-consumer.
The shift towards ecommerce proves to be a more natural shift in technological advancement as it integrates both the web development and visual stimuli in advertising. This also means that this is not just a marketing gimmick but also a psychological tactic to subliminally remove the barrier of fantasy in the mind of a buyer. Thus, the probability of a successful product purchase or the likelihood of achieving an ecommerce website goal improves drastically when a potential buyer interacts with the product and begins to personalize it.
VR applications have also been excelling in the same AR targeted industries. The difference here is that VR will most often be used with products where the experience can only be derived using a specific and custom environment. Adaptations and minor variations in required environment can hamper the overall VR experience. This gives reason to believe that AR has the potential to dominate the territory of ecommerce as it makes access to perceiving the product more easier.
It is a fact that companies that invest in augmented reality in marketing, reap the benefits of viewing the world in a new dimension while also enjoying the fruits of their investment.Think we missed out mentioning something newsworthy? Mention it in the comments section below, and we’ll cover that too!
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Salman is a software engineering graduate and digital marketer by profession. He works as a Digital Marketer Strategist at Cloudways. He loves to create value for the Startup community & help entrepreneur reach their goal. He is a big fan of cricket and does play AAA games in his free time.