Interest and investment in augmented reality is greater than it’s ever been before.

Thanks to new tools from tech giants – such as Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore – it’s now also easier for brands to build their own AR apps and AR-driven campaigns. 

Of course, with any new technology comes challenges. With AR, this is largely to do with novelty, and whether or not the tech offers any real value for marketers (and indeed consumers).

You can read more about whether AR is right for you in Econsultancy’s Marketer’s Guide to Augmented Reality. In the meantime, here’s more on why brands are turning to AR, along with some examples.

Deeper engagement with rewards

Consumers are bombarded with an inordinate amount of marketing messages every day, making it hard for marketers to ensure their message is heard.

This is where AR – and the additional layer of immersive creative that it offers – can be hugely effective. In fact, studies have proven that AR stimulates increased levels of attention in the brain compared to more basic technology.

Research conducted by Zappar and Mindshare found that AR delivers a 45% higher level of visual attention than TV.

7-Eleven is one brand that has used AR to boost engagement, specifically the usage of its rewards app. One particular campaign – which involved a tie-in with the movie Deadpool 2 – allowed mobile app users to unlock AR experiences by scanning codes in-store.

This added an additional layer of excitement and interaction to the in-store experience, and successfully drove engagement on the app. According to Zappar, the campaign generated over 3.2m interactions.

In a more low-touch industry, where engagement is an issue, British Gas also used AR to increase engagement with their loyalty scheme through an online game which launched April 2019 and features Wilbur the penguin (the brand mascot) and the opportunity to win prizes.

Product visualisation

Augmented reality can be frivolous and fun, however, in the right circumstances it can also be far more valuable than this.

According to research by Oracle, 61% of companies using virtual or augmented reality have increased customer satisfaction metrics as a result. What’s more, 84% of companies agreed that the virtual and augmented reality experiences their companies offer over the next five years will have a bigger impact on CX metrics than experiences in the physical world.

Where AR particularly lends itself to this is through product visualisation, which can enable consumers to get a better and more realistic idea of what a product might look like in real life (or in a certain context).

L’Oréal’s virtual makeup tool is a good example of this; it allows consumers to use their camera to try on make-up in real time or upload a photo of themselves to see make-up overlaid. Since acquiring Modiface, L’Oréal has launched multiple AR experiences, viewing the technology as the basis of  customer experience for all 36 of its brands.

As a result of the aforementioned impact on CX, brands might see an increase in sales by combatting any reasons why a customer might be put off making a purchase and nudge them over the line.

With L’Oreal’s make-up tool, for instance, not being able to see what the product might look like is usually the biggest barrier to conversion. The AR tool effectively takes this away. This is also the case for other utility-driven apps, usually within furniture or design retail. The Houzz app is one example; its AR feature allow users to envision what an item of furniture will look like in the context of their own home.

Houzz also recently updated its app to allow users to virtually tile their floors. The app is able to determine the orientation of a floor so that users can discover how much tile they need. Interestingly, Houzz has reported that people who use the app’s AR features are 11 times more likely to purchase and spend an average of 2.7 times more time in the app than other users.

Branding

Finally, augmented reality has been linked to more long-term benefits for brands, too. A study by Magid found that AR can positively affect brand perception, but only if the technology enhances the experience in a meaningful way.

Conversely, a bad AR experience can negatively affect perceptions. As such, it is important that brands do not use AR for novelty and PR purposes, but instead think about the long-term benefits of the experience. One way to create a positive AR experience is to make it as seamless as possible. This means, for instance, not relying on users to download a new or separate app in order to access it.

To find out more about use cases for AR in marketing, download Econsultancy’s Guide to AR.