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Augmented Reality: Bringing 3D Virtual Reality to Real World Marketing Campaigns

Augmented reality (AR) has been around for some time but marketers have been relatively slow to find a way to work its technology into traditional marketing campaigns in a way that makes sense. If the term augmented reality is unfamiliar to you, it is basically the use of a marker and reader system to mix virtual reality and 3D animation into the real world. Augmented reality matches what you are actually viewing in the real world with a virtual, computer generated scene, adding extra information to what your eyes actually see. A very basic example of augmented reality that has been around for some time is the NFL’s use of first down markers during game telecasts. That yellow line that runs across the field doesn’t actually exist. It is a computer-generated image that interacts with on-field markers to give you the sense that you are viewing a line on the field that moves every time a first down is achieved. Over the past year, augmented reality has penetrated the mainstream marketing world- and in a big way. From online commerce to product packaging, augmented reality is being used to give the consumer a very unique and personal experience. Here is a rundown of how some brands are using augmented reality in more traditional advertising campaigns:

Product Packaging- Starbucks Uses AR to Show Some Holiday Love

Starbucks is an old hand at augmented reality. Last year, the International coffee-maker launched their Starbucks Cup Magic mobile app to bring their patrons a little holiday AR love. So far, they have used the app to make their signature coffee cups a bit more festive for both Christmas and Valentine’s Day. Here, have a look at the app in action:

Online Commerce- Bella Luce’s AR App Lets You Try a Ring on Before You Buy It

Online commerce is an area that marketers are consistently looking for ways to utilize technology to facilitate and encourage more sales. The more an ecommerce site can display their product and make the shopping experience personalized, the more products they are able to sell. Bella Luce Jewelry has taken the ecommerce shopping experience one step further and has included augmented reality to show a potential customer what a particular ring would look like on their finger. This approach makes for an almost virtual showroom and could be beneficial to so many other types of businesses that sell online. Clothing, furniture and home improvement/decor are all examples of industries that could utilize this type of augmented reality technology to more customize the shopping process. Here is Bella Luce’s app at work:

Print Advertising- Blippar Tricks Out Virgin Media Magazine Using AR

Habitual early adopter of technology, Virgin Media, is using the popular augmented reality mobile app Blippar to enhance the reader experience for its customer magazine. When viewing the magazine through the Blippar app on a mobile device, the reader is treated to a video of Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson and other cool videos, app download offers and interactive gaming-like ads. We are seeing more and more augmented reality used in print as the technology is embraced by major brands. Print advertising is clearly an area where AR can bring significant added value to a major buy.

Product Packaging – LEGO Uses AR to Show Products in 3D

LEGO has always been a leader among the major toy companies in using technology in their digital marketing efforts. Their most recent digital campaign is no different. LEGO has created augmented reality kiosks on which consumers can hold up a play set box and see a 3D, animated rendering of what that set will look like. The plan is for these kiosks to be deployed to LEGO stores around the world. Here is a video of one of these kiosks in action. The video is shot in a LEGO store in Ströget, Copenhagen, Denmark and shows off how the augmented reality 3D animation works with a LEGO Star Wars Product.

Promo Posters – Domino’s Uses AR to Sell More Pizzas

Pizza-maker Domino’s has put up 6,000 posters across Britain that look like a normal promo poster (see pic) but also serve as an AR marker when viewed through the Blippar App, as if you were going to take a picture of the poster. digital marketing mobile 3d When viewed through Blippar, the user has the option to download deals for their nearest Domino’s store, get the Domino’s mobile ordering app, become a Facebook fan or view their local menu. Display advertising like posters and billboards are a great fit for augmented reality if they are located in an area that allows for a person to linger in front of the ad a bit longer than usual. Bus stops, train stations, street corners and airports are all great locations for AR-enhanced display advertising.

My Take:

Augmented reality is cool. There is no doubt about it. To have the ability to place a printed piece in front of a camera and be presented with 3D virtual objects is something we all would have laughed at ten years ago. Thankfully, as the technology is resonating more with the general public, we are starting to see marketers get past the ‘coolness’ factor and use AR as a more standardized means of getting significantly more information to the consumer to assist in their decision-making in a fun and non-intrusive way. Oh, and just in case you were wondering what the future may hold for augmented reality, here is an awesome video that explores some of AR’s potential future uses in our everyday lives: Some of this stuff isn’t too far off from what we are able to do today!  
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