The term augmented reality is one which has gradually crept into the world of marketing in recent years, threatened to explode and take the market by storm but for some reason that threat has failed to materialise. Whether or not the concept will reach its full potential remains to be seen but for the purpose of this article I intend on exploring the idea a little further and exploring the success or lack of a little deeper.

For those of you who are lost already, let’s take a step back. The official definition of Augmented Reality (AR) is “a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics.” There are many different forms of AR with the complexity ranging from scanning a poster with your phone to augmented visuals appearing in real life scenario’s (e.g. the TV programme ‘The Cube’)

Brands no longer wish to convey their messages in a direct “We talk, You listen” manner. More and more we see brands run competitions, request feedback and almost create social communities in order entice individuals to interact with the brand. Building relationships with customers is now an essential aspect of marketing.

My experience of AR is that it is very expensive. Big production works in the larger markets where budgets are bulkier but this is not the case in Ireland. Maybe over time, as technology becomes cheaper, more opportunities will open up in the Irish market.

One area where AR would work for TPI is on promotional merchandise. A situation could be set up, whereby a promotional merchandise receiver scans the packaging via an app to reveal an augmented personalised message with the sales team phone number appearing as a call to action. The guys over in Zest Merchandise can help you with that.

Despite all the positives, work NEEDS to be done.

Just because the technology is present does not mean the demand is there for the process. It is until that demand arrives that we won’t witness the true potential of augmented reality.

Why isn’t the demand there?

There needs to be a high incentive for customer’s to interact with these advertisements.  The novelty of witnessing such technology wears off quite quickly.

1. “What’s in it for me?”

Why would somebody wish to interact with an ad when all the user receives is direction to their Facebook page. Consumers want value. Consumers want competitions. Consumers want excitement!!! Just because you have internet access or the ability to interact with advertisements doesn’t necessarily mean you will

2. Lack of Knowledge

Another point that I think is playing a major role in the Irish market is the lack of knowledge amongst the population, not only of augmented reality but also the different types of Augmented Reality, with many application and companies competing in a small space.

3. Barriers to Engagement

Users have to first of all download an app before they can engage with the technology. This is just another hurdle to stop the user appreciating the technology. We need to make it easier for the end user!!

The technology is fantastic no doubt, now let’s see if it can work for advertisers in Ireland. The next couple of years will be testing but with the pace that both advertising and technology are moving at, who knows where this space will be in a couple of years. I for one am really looking forward to it.

Three clever ways to integrate Augmented Reality

IKEA AR Catalogue

IKEA launched their augmented reality brochure to enable shoppers to visualise how certain pieces of furniture woud look inside their home. The app measures the size of the products against the surrounding room to offer the perfect comparison tool,

IBM App

Research by IBM showed that 58% of consumers want to get product information in-store before a purchase, and that 19% of customers will browse mobile devices whilst shopping. (Full article available here) To address this consumer need in a way they are using, IBM launched their AR app. Acting like a personal shopper, it uses augmented reality technology to provide shoppers with personalised information whilst browsing the shelves.

American Apparel Colour-Changing App

American Apparel is renowned for their colourful product collections, so they turned to augmented reality to make finding the perfect product in the right colour easier than ever before. Customers were encouraged to scan the product in store and then once the item popped up on their mobile, they could simply view the piece of clothing in different colours before purchasing.