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Augmented reality ads are slowly making their way into the mainstream, with more and more brands using the technology to engage consumers with hidden digital content.

We’ve reported on several major brands using AR for marketing campaigns, including Waitrose, Nestle, and Tesco.

However, while marketers are all too keen to trumpet their AR trials, stats around consumer engagement are like hens' teeth.

But following on from our post highlighting six successful uses of QR codes, we have found one or two examples of successful AR campaigns.

Kia

This campaign dates back to last year’s Australian Open. Kia has sponsored the tournament for the past eight years and noted that 32% of the Australian TV audience used their smartphone while watching the broadcast.

During the matches viewers were encouraged to download Kia’s bespoke AR app that linked them to digital content about the Aussie Open and the Kia Optima. 

The AR app recorded 12,630 downloads and there was an increase in Optima searches of 58%. The largest recorded search volume for the Optima was January 22, the day app went live.

As a result, Kia said that it achieved 57% more sales than expected of the new Optima in January.

Nuts Magazine

In a January edition of the weekly lads mag Nuts, readers could scan over 20 pieces of editorial content using Blippar.

Publisher IPC Media said that more than 15,000 unique users generated more than 200,000 interactions on their smartphones.

Without anything to benchmark against it is difficult to say if this warrants a successful trial, however Blippar heralded it as an unprecedented level of interaction for a single campaign using its app.

Volvo

In order to promote its new S60 model Volvo created an AR experience that allowed users to drive a virtual car.

It was activated by scanning a YouTube video, and the user could then drive the car round a track by tilting their smartphone left and right.

Volvo said the results were “outstanding”, with a 9.6% interaction rate, 192,319 clicks on the masthead ad and a traffic increase of 293% to volvocars.com.

Top Gear Magazine

Readers could access a range of digital content in the December edition of Top Gear Magazine using Aurasma’s AR app.

It included videos of the presenters embedded in the editorial content and a highlights reel of 2011 best cars on the front cover. 

The tie in resulted in tens of thousands of video views and Top Gear Magazine has integrated AR into subsequent editions.

Lacta 

Greek chocolate brand Lacta ran this neat AR campaign in December. Following on from an existing marketing campaign that encouraged consumers to write love messages on Lacta chocolate bar wrappers, the AR app brought to life virtual love notes.

Consumers were able to write a love message on a wrapper within the app and then forward it onto a loved one who could only read it by scanning a Lacta bar. 

The campaign was a clever way to introduce a digital element to existing offline marketing and engage consumers with the brand.

It would be interesting to see Nestle to run a similar campaign with Rolos in the UK, as we have already seen them use Blippar with a number of their products.

ASOS

Clothing e-tailer ASOS used Blippar to bring its consumer magazine to life.

The AR presented readers with click-to-buy icons so they could purchase the items straight off the page through their smartphone. 

The use of AR fits perfectly with ASOS's brand image and caters to its target demographic of 18-25 year olds.

We don't have stats on how many people 'blipped' the magazine, but from a strategic point of view this would appear to be the perfect place to trial AR.

Volkswagen

VW used AR to launch the new 2012 Beetle in Canada - the idea was to make the advertising "as impressive as the car".

By scanning posters on bus shelters and billboards users could access fun digital content of cars bursting out from the wall and doing tricks off ramps.

This is definitely an impressive use of AR, however it used a bespoke AR app called VWJuicedUp that was only available on iOS. The use of custom made AR apps is potentially the only thing preventing the technology from really catching on with consumers.

QR code scanners are universal so consumers need only download one version, however AR campaigns often require the user to download a new app every time which doesn't offer a great user experience.

David Moth

Published 11 May, 2012 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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