This article is a contribution from Arvind Ramachandran, a second year MBA student at the Indian Institute of Management in Calcutta.
The World Wide Web has become passé. Now I know that’s a big statement to make, but just hear me out. Nowadays, marketers around the world are tuned into the World Wide Web on an unprecedented scale. Most brands today have a website and significant presence on social media forums. The brands which don’t are fast playing a game of catch-up, with ever increasing contests, events and other forms of consumer engagement online. So, if most of the competition has already started occupying the digital space, then what next for marketers?
In steps augmented reality. Augmented reality (AR) platforms offer marketers the unique opportunity to enrich and enhance the consumer’s brand experience. It helps integrate the potential benefits offered by the internet with the consumer’s real environment. Sounds confusing? Let me explore this in a bit more detail.
Augmented reality, as the name suggests, attempts to augment or enhance your physical environment by adding computer generated input and content to the world around you. It would allow marketers to place virtual products, markers and other forms of brand promotion in the consumer’s environment. How would the consumer be able view this content? Generally, augmented reality projections can be viewed through head mounted displays, spatial displays or using handheld devices. Handheld devices are certainly the most convenient of the lot.
Now imagine being able to use the most ubiquitous handheld device of all, the mobile phone, to view augmented reality content. A host of AR platforms and mobile apps are now available which allow you to do just that. And going by how they are being used today, they may just be the next big thing in promotional campaigns.
One such campaign that I came across recently was carried out by fashion-retailer H&M in partnership with GoldRun (http://www.goldrungo.com), an AR platform startup. The mobile app allowed people to view and take pictures with virtual garments placed in their environment and in return, they were awarded with discounts and offers. A promotion of this nature holds immense potential as it takes consumer engagement to a new level and makes participation more exciting and enjoyable. And by allowing you to share your pictures and gifts on Facebook, these apps hold the potential to integrate your World Wide Web experience with your real environment and transform your world into one hyper-connected experience. Basically, you would be able to interact with virtual goods in real surroundings and then share your experience online in the digital space. Sounds cool, right?
The best part is, you can now become part of this experience, just at the touch of a button, by using these apps on your smart phone. Why is this important? For the same reason the World Wide Web and mobile phones have now become integral parts of your everyday life. Augmented reality platforms hold the potential to extend the benefits accrued from the internet to the user’s real world. With marketers cashing in on the opportunities presented by AR platforms, consumers would be provided with better options and thus benefit from promotional activities carried out in this space. Also, becoming part of this exciting new space would provide common folk like you and me with a chance to explore and become part of a truly unique augmented reality experience.
The possibilities and opportunities which the Augmented Reality space offers are limitless. And the fact that this unique experience is now available at the touch of a button, thanks to mobile AR apps like GoldRun, provides a truly compelling reason for you to engage and become part of the AR experience.