AR's big brother, Virtual Reality (VR) is also back in vogue, thanks to an increase in the accessibility and affordability of 360 cameras and Facebook and YouTube supporting 360 degree video. And what better timing for marketers to jump on board these two cool techs as consumers demand a steady diet of immersive, interactive and entertaining content.
How do these technologies work?
AR overlays real-life environments and objects with computer-generated or virtual items like graphics, sounds and even smells to create a part-real, part-fantasy (or augmented) experience. If you happen to be among the millions of daily global Pokemon Go users or even a Snapchat filter user, you'll understand the appeal.
If you're wondering how AR stacks up to other technology and social media, consider this: according to a study by Sensor Tower, the average iPhone user now spends 33 minutes and 25 seconds a day on Pokemon Go. This exceeds Facebook's average iPhone user time of 22 minutes, Snapchat's 18 minutes, Twitter's 17 minutes and 56 seconds and Instagram's 15 minutes.
VR differs from AR in that it uses computer-generated simulations in place of real-world scenarios to create an otherworldly experience - a complete virtual reality. For marketers, these two tools offer an exciting opportunity to engage audiences for longer and at a deeper level, in turn creating stronger emotional connections with the brand.
Where to start?
Before forging ahead, understand who you're talking to and how VR or AR might be used to reach these people. How social savvy are they? How likely are they to use an AR app? Consider how AR or VR can be used across social channels and define what your purpose is in using them. Are you wanting to drive more traffic to your social platforms or to your website, engage a younger audience, boost purchase intent or increase customer engagement on social platforms?
Do your research; learn from and get inspired by some of the early adopters, like Freedom Furniture, which experimented with a great AR app that lets customers virtually try out furniture items and objects in their home environment. Their investment in AR resulted in more than 7000 downloads of the app, less than a month after launching. Make-up giant Maybelline launched an AR campaign using Blippar to encourage user-generated content by asking users to share images of themselves virtually testing out new nail polishes across Facebook, Twitter and email. And Volvo tried out AR with a driving gaming app that generated a 293% increase in traffic to volvocars.com.
International brands including Qantas, Nescafe and Coca-Cola have taken VR to their customers too. And there are plenty of great examples of VR from New Zealand brands and producers too: Check out Jaguar's VR campaign at "Big Boys Toys" and the Cancer Society of New Zealand's Facebook 360 video.
Get creative and think about how you can add VR and AR to your marketing arsenal to offer more in-depth social experiences for your brand's customers and to gain their loyalty and get traction.