April 21, 2020

Step Into The Future with Augmented and Virtual Reality

What’s your favourite Instagram or Snapchat filter? Cute dog ears? How about something a little more amusing such as the filter that gives you a glimpse of your future as an old person or the notorious gender-swap filter? If you have used any of these filters, you may be surprised to learn that you have been using augmented reality technology.

Augmented reality, the phrase originally being coined in 1990, is technology that overlays a computer-generated image or animation on a user’s view of the real world, usually through the use of their smart phone. Its counterpart, virtual reality, first being referenced in 1989, involves the use of a virtual reality headset that allows the user to be immersed in a computer-generated 3D environment that can be explored and, in some cases, interacted with.

These relatively new and ground-breaking technologies are creeping into markets worldwide and making their mark. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), the AR/VR market reached almost R300 billion ($16.8 billion) in value in 2019 and is expected to grow to a staggering R2825 billion ($160 billion) by 2023.


Virtual Reality

This technology has been seen as much less accessible than its AR counterpart due to the need for a headset and the associated cost required in acquiring or providing one for the intended audience. However, many brands have created workarounds in recent years with Mc Donald’s being a notable example of this with their Mc Donalds Happy Goggles campaign. This allowed children to build a version of VR goggles from their Happy Meal boxes, into which they could insert smartphones to create the VR experience.

For when the genuine experience with headsets was necessary, brands used the headsets within activations, roadshows or within their own stores thereby offering their customers unique experiences. BMW, for example, provided consumers with a chance to virtually test drive their cars through an app that could be used with the Oculus Rift headset. Furniture stores have also used these headsets to allow consumers to walk through a virtual replication of their own homes to view how the furniture would look within them. This technology is very effective for providing consumers with virtual tours of behind-the-scenes making of products, factories and even museums and outdoor national parks to increase brand awareness and consumer engagement.


Augmented Reality

Augmented reality is more accessible than ever thanks to smartphones becoming a staple in modern society with 45% of the global population having access to them. According to insights by Retail Perceptions, 72% of shoppers purchased items they had not even planned to purchase because of augmented reality and 61% of shoppers preferred retailers with AR over those without, highlighting the

effectiveness of this technology within both marketing and retail. When AR is used together with e-commerce, it has the potential to create a seamless experience for consumers by providing them with highly visual and interactive product information particular to their preferences, thereby shortening the consideration phase in the buying process. Many cosmetic and clothing stores in the US are already making use of this such as Timberland’s virtual changeroom and Sephora’s Virtual Artist App that allows clients to see how the products would look on their faces and bodies. In a great display of how AR can be used for lead generation, AMC Theatres introduced an app that allowed users to scan any movie poster with the AR sticker to display relevant information including the cast, trailer and reviews in AR and allow the user to buy tickets for the movie straight off the app.

Due to the high entertainment factor of AR, it can also be used to generate awareness, user generated content (UGC) and increase brand advocacy. One of the best examples of a brand using AR to do this is Pepsi’s AR installation in a London bus shelter, creating the illusion that lions, UFOs, meteors and other items were heading straight for those sitting within the shelter. People took photos and videos of themselves and friends enjoying and interacting with this technology which created a snowball of user generated content and boosted brand awareness as people showed their appreciation for the installation. The original video of this AR experience attracted 6 million views, making it one of the most viewed videos on YouTube at the time and showcasing a campaign that is still creating interest even after the installation was removed.

The application of these amazing technologies to marketing opens up a world of possibilities to create advertising that is truly entertaining, interactive and immersive by combining the physical and virtual worlds. If you’re ready to take your marketing to the next level with technological innovation, Black Snow has a team of experts ready to assist.

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