Forget Virtual Reality, Using Augmented Reality in Marketing is the Now

You’ve probably heard of virtual reality, but not everyone will be familiar with the term ‘augmented reality’, even though many of us use it on a regular basis.

Augmented reality is the use of technology to offer a composite view of the real world – usually by overlaying computer-generated images onto the view you would normally see through your screen. Snapchat’s Lenses are probably the most obvious – and widely used – example of augmented reality in action.

Right now, the hottest AR trend is of course Pokemon Go. Two days after its release, the app was installed on 5.16% of all Android phones in the US. Although this doesn’t sound like much, by then Pokemon Go was installed on more US Android phones than Tinder!

These successes show just how popular AR is, and it seems that augmented reality in marketing is the latest thing to do. Adweek recently reported that 14 brands payed big bucks for a featured Snapchat Lenses in the US alone in just 5 weeks over June and July. The amounts they paid are estimated to vary from $600,000 – $750,000 for just a 24-hour slot.

But why is it that using augmented reality in marketing is so popular, especially with its more immersive cousin virtual reality also in the picture?

It’s more accessible

One of the fantastic things about augmented reality is how readily accessible it is. In the simplest sense, augmented reality is so accessible because it’s already here, right now. Sure, you can spend £500 on a VR headset if you happen to have the cash lying around, but the beauty of augmented reality is that it utilizes the technology that we have widely available today – the smartphone. Luckily for brands, almost everyone has the right piece of technology in their pocket. This is a great argument for using augmented reality in marketing; it might take a few years for VR to go mainstream (right now it’s reserved mostly for tecchies and gamers, and costs an awful lot of money), but with AR, targeting audiences is super easy. 

AR is more personal

Virtual Reality is a fun and exciting experience – there’s no doubt about that. Plus, it’s a great way to present innovative content to an audience. However, the immersive quality of VR can actually be a hindrance rather than a helper to your marketing strategy. In reality (that is, the real reality), nobody wants to replace their existence on this planet with a pretend one for extended periods of time.

The beauty of using augmented reality in marketing is that it lets the user imagine and experience how your brand or product would feature in their real life. If one of the goals of marketing is sales, this is incredibly useful. For example, take L’Oréal’s Makeup Genius app. The app lets users see what different makeup products would look like on them, and even lets them scan items in store to do this. Users can experience products in real-time in the real world.

This is a technique that is being adopted by lots of brands in different areas – Ikea created a catalogue, for example, which allowed users to picture furniture from the Ikea catalogue in their own home. In other words, the use of AR is personal to the user, and answers the question how does this product fit into my life? Yes, virtual reality is a lot of fun, but it’s distinctly not reality. Augmented reality has a lot of potential for turning what could be into what is.

AR is more versatile …for now

Gaming? Check. Shopping? Check. Advertising? Check. Entertainment? Check.

Using augmented reality in marketing in its traditional sense isn’t the only option available. Time and time again AR shows us how it’s always quick to adapt and be innovative. The examples mentioned here alone show that – Snapchat, L’Oréal, and Nintendo all use AR in different ways. Perhaps its versatility has something to do with the fact that it’s easily accessible to a wide range of people – it means there’s a wide range of uses to be found for AR. Virtual reality has a lot of potential, but its very nature in that it closes you off from your senses, other people, and the real world, means that its uses for now are somewhat limited to things like gaming and training. There’s no such thing as VR on the go…yet.

Mark Zuckerberg believes that virtual reality will one day be the norm, and with the amount of money and excitement around VR, that’s not hard to believe. For now, though, AR is learning and growing at a much quicker rate, probably because of how user-led it is. In simple terms, virtual reality might be the future, but augmented reality is the now.


We might not be able to help you incorporate augmented reality in your marketing strategy (yet!), but we can help you with everything else. Why not get in touch to find out more?








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