Augmented Reality Marketing Conference

I attended an Augmented Reality (AR) Marketing Conference yesterday in the Guinness Storehouse. The quality of the presentations blew me away. I knew technology was progressing however I hadn’t realised it was doing so with such pace, Google Glass, wow!!  I intend on giving an honest and frank assessment of the area in my piece below.

The term augmented reality is one which has gradually crept into the world of marketing in recent years, threatened to explode and take the market by storm but for some reason that threat has failed to materialise. Whether or not the concept will reach its full potential remains to be seen but for the purpose of this article I intend on exploring the idea a little further and exploring the success or lack of a little deeper.

For those of you who are lost already, let’s take a step back. The official definition of Augmented Reality (AR) is “a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics.” There are many different forms of AR with the complexity ranging from scanning a poster with your phone to augmented visuals appearing in real life scenario’s (e.g. the TV programme ‘The Cube’).  The conference focused on the benefits of AR in marketing.

Brands no longer wish to convey their messages in a direct “We talk, You listen” manner. More and more we see brands run competitions, request feedback and almost create social communities in order entice individuals to interact with the brand. Building relationships with customers is now an essential aspect of marketing.

My experience of AR from previous work is that it is very expensive. Big production works in the larger markets where budgets are bulkier but this is not the case in Ireland. It was mentioned yesterday that over time, as technology becomes cheaper, more opportunities will open up in the Irish market.

A number of speakers from all over the world spoke yesterday. There was a chance to meet with the speakers over coffee afterwards and interact with the technology. One of the opportunities for TPI would be to include AR on some promotional marketing material that we distribute to clients. An example would be Easter Eggs. A situation could be set up, whereby the Easter Egg receiver scans the packaging via a TPI app to reveal an augmented personalised Happy Easter message with the sales team phone number appearing as a call to action. The conference brochure had a similar scenario where the user could scan a photo of Dublin to reveal the name of the locations in the photograph.

The last speaker of the day was Jess Butcher from Blippar. Blippar provides organisations with an opportunity to increase their interaction with customers by offering them a sense of involvement with the advert. Take the Kit Kat Chunky for example. Kit Kat ran with the slogan “Choose Your Chunky Champion” giving the customer complete control of where the Kit Kat brand is going. Blippar allowed the user an easy yet exciting way to vote and this format coupled with social media platforms provided the majority of the population with a means to vote.

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Despite all the positives, work NEEDS to be done.

Just because the technology is present however does not mean the demand is there for the process. It is until that demand arrives that we won’t witness the true potential of augmented reality.

Why isn’t the demand there?

There needs to be a high incentive for customer’s to interact with these advertisements.  The novelty of witnessing such technology wears off quite quickly (trust me). Basically “What’s in it for me?” Why would somebody wish to interact with an ad when all the user receives is direction to their Facebook page. Consumers want value. Consumers want competitions. Consumers want excitement!!!

People must have access to 3G or 4G on the go internet via the smartphones if they are to be able to interact with these advertisements. Just because you have internet access or the ability to interact with advertisements doesn’t necessarily mean you will. It comes back to incentive once again. Another point that I think is playing a major role in the Irish market is the lack of knowledge amongst the population, not only of augmented reality but also the different types of Augmented Reality, with many application and companies competing in a small space.

As you may have gathered, I am of the opinion that augmented reality may only reach its true potential when

  1. Marketers offer real incentives
  2. 4G coverage increases nationwide
  3. A clear and recognised market leader emerges

The technology is fantastic, now let’s see if it can work for advertisers in Ireland. Many thanks to the organisers of the conference. The quality was fantastic and great to see it in Dublin.

Cathal O’ Reilly

Marketing Executive

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