Augmented Reality has become a Reality in Marketing

What was once a far-off idea that existed only in the fantastic worlds of sci-fi classics such as Star Trek, Star Wars and the like, is now a reality and used to push marketing promotions among the young and tech-savvy generation!

Augmented reality has now leapt off the pages of our imagination and is being integrated into innovative promotional ideas that blur the line the between reality and virtual reality. GoldRun is a new app using augmented reality to enhance and add another level of interactivity to existing location-based apps such as Foursquare and scvngr. In the article’s case study, H&M utilized GoldRun to initiate a virtual scavenger hunt. Participants were encouraged to collect virtual H&M products by snapping a picture of the item outside any of its 10 Manhattan locations.

Such applications and platforms really emphasizes the mobility of today’s technology and how we are increasingly dependent or ‘encouraged’ to interact with the real world through the lens of our gadgets. Other social media based marketing platforms such as PromoJam or Wildfire (which focus on Twitter and Facebook based promotions), operate in a similar manner, getting consumers to participate and interact with the brand and with one another through a digital device.

With the rise of technology and the ubiquity of social media tools, marketing is no longer about utilizing ‘old’ media outlets such as advertising to influence its consumers. It has become far more interactive and experiential. Consumers no longer wish to be treated as passive recipients but expect to be involved in some shape or form with the brand’s evolution. As we become more dependent on smart phone technologies, how then will applications and tools evolve to get us even more entrenched into the virtual worlds they present? What then happens to the ‘real world’?

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8 Responses to Augmented Reality has become a Reality in Marketing

  1. menewell says:

    In your post you mention that, “Consumers no longer wish to be treated as passive recipients but expect to be involved in some shape or form with the brand’s evolution.” I agree with this point in most cases, but do think that there is still a place for passive consumption and situations where the consumer wants to do just that, consume the marketing messages sent out, rather than be an active participant. Thoughts?

    • Cadonna Dory says:

      I agree with menewell. Personally, I prefer passive consumption. I know that retailers and marketers need and are trying to keep up with this tech boom but depending on their target audience, I don’t think this new augmented reality is going to work, particulary with older consumers (over 40, or even 35). Just a thought…

  2. Jen Hau says:

    Social networking apps on smartphones not only help implement augmented reality, but they help create a new competitive space for internet marketing.

    When people trade their personal information and their current locations with Foursquare, they often get special offers from the store they check in. Moreover, Foursquare and the shops and restaurants often team up to encourage their members/ consumers to check in more in order to get more discounts. Furthermore, in some cases, stores will offer special discounts to the “mayor” (person with the most check-ins that month) of that store.

    This strategy not only promotes the popularity of Foursquare, but also gives people more incentives to shop in those locations with Foursquare special offers.

  3. Shelley says:

    Well, to tell you the truth, this is my first time to hear “Augmented Reality’, really. I googled it, and get to know what is that. I feel I am a little bit “out”. I can imagine that case in your article. I agree with you that marketing become far more interactive and experiential. Also, this innovation will help the company make more money.

  4. Christine says:

    It’s really interesting to read about how other industries pick up the concept of augmented reality; so far, I have only known the film industry as a major user of this form of branding. In the case of Disney’s TRON (released December 2010) for example, audiences were invited to engage with the TRON brand in multiple ways other than movie theaters. The film’s launch was preceded by the implementation of an Alternative-Reality-Game (ARG) called ‘Flynn Lives’, which urged them to go on a real-life scavenger hunt through Los Angeles in order to find one of the main characters of the film, Flynn, who in the movie plot disappeared in the 1980s. And that’s only one additional way in which audiences are encouraged to engage with the TRON brand: The website, for example, offers virtual games, the creation of your own TRON avatar, and background information on the film’s characters, and there is also the usual wide variety of merchandise tie-ins and video games catering to pretty much any console.

    Thus, until now I have only been aware of such augmented reality branding in the entertainment industry as part of what Henry Jenkins has termed ‘transmedia storytelling’. The fact that even producers of other forms of consumer goods are now making use of this form of branding, too, raises the question whether we will soon be presented with general consumption and/or brand worlds rather than story worlds based on entertainment content.

  5. Mei says:

    I definitely think there are areas where consumers can still be ‘passive receptors’ of goods/services…it just depends on the type of product/service. I think when it comes to your needs, stuff that has already become second nature to you and your life, you no longer feel the need to interact or engage with the brand because it has already become part of your ‘identity’ per se. Items that feed on trends and wants like your Apple products, and fashion are more of a temporal statement of your identity and thus encourages a more active participation with the brand. By interacting with the brand, we hope to leverage off some of its value and transpose it on ourselves.

    In somewhat related news, FourSquare just released a report on their users for 2010. It’s a pretty interesting article that lists the most frequented locations and helps draw up an idea of who FourSquare’s target audience is.

  6. hillgren says:

    Augmented reality, I agree, is the new, upgrated version of the game of marketing. Social media has presented a platform for anyone and everyone to have a voice, which transitions individuals into an existence and reality where they continuously like to be involved and have power to make decisions and interact with people, places, and products. To add to this would be the developement of 3D television. How does marketing and media play into this new viewpoint? Does it make augmented reality more realitic? Does it engage the consumer/audience even more? Or is it just a trend that will slowly die out?

  7. Xinyi says:

    The Augmented Reality Browser reminds me of those 3D online virtual websites such as Twinity, which claims to provide the real life experience in online world. Since 2008, Twinity has launched virtual cities online such as Berlin, London, New York. Apart from the city itself, the major part of the content is user-generated. As a premium user, you are able to create your own avatar, choose your clothes from the most trendy designers, or even become an interior designer for your own house.

    Going back even further, Second Life is one of most profitable virtual game online world. It’s been working with companies such as Apple, IBM for users to purchase all kinds of digital products which exist in the reality for their online identities.

    What I am trying to say here is that the reality and the virtual worlds are merging in a steady pace.Most of marketing activities are taken online those days to save costs as well as catch more eyeballs. The augmented reality is just another way to smooth this transition from traditional marketing to online marketing.