Human beings are a visual species; the 1 billion selfies taken each day is a testament to that. When we buy a product, the visualization of that product in context, like a home, plays a large part in its purchase. In a survey by Splashlight, they found that 47% of consumers rated high-quality product visuals as the most influential factor in a purchase. And, more interestingly for the marketer, almost 52% said ‘on-model’ photography influenced a purchase. Imagine the impact then, if you could make your digital content spring to 360-degree life.
As marketers, we are living in an amazing time. Technology is allowing us to reach out to a global audience to build relationships and show our products in their best light. Technology is pushing content marketing into a new playing field and changing the landscape that we use to tell our product story. But as technology moves forward, so does the competitive edge. To keep ahead of this edge, we need to know what leads technology can offer us, and how it can shape our customer reach and purchase decisions.
The Types of Tech Available for Marketers
When the general public think of marketing you’d forgive them for having the image of the TV series ‘Mad Men’ in mind. However, the marketing sector is typically an early adopter of technology because it has to be. Competition drives innovation and there is no-one more at the forefront of competition than marketers. Some of the latest trends in technology for marketers include
- Big Customer Data and Prediction: Predictive marketing is a way to use big data, smartly. The technique uses technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence and applies them to customer data. It gives the marketer a deep understanding of customer behavior which can be used to create more effective campaigns.
- Voice activated search: Comscore is predicting that by 2020, 50% of all online search will be voice activated. According to Adobe Digital Insights, digital assistant sales grew 103% in 2017, and 22% of owners reported that they shop using voice commands.
- Personalization and CIAM: Related to big data and prediction is the area of personalized marketing and customer identity access management (CIAM). In a report by Salesforce, which looked at trends in marketing, they identified the bringing together of a unified customer experience using data from varying sources. One way to achieve this is by using CIAM.
- Augmented reality: This technology is a powerful tool in the marketer’s pocket. It connects people and digital versions of products – taking high-quality product visuals to a whole new level. Augmented reality is seeing the biggest impact in mobile marketing, as applications of AR bend easily to this platform. An example is a mobile app used to place a digital product in a real context, e.g. a sofa in a room. A study by Digi-Capital has found that AR is likely to have an install-base of around 3.5 billion generating revenue of up to $90 billion by 2022.
The companies using AR to great effect
Augmented reality is exciting companies all over the world. AR is a marketers dream. It provides a platform to show off a digital product in its best light. Using 360-degree video overlay between the digital and the real world, it provides peace of mind and clarity to customers that the product fits their needs. Companies using this technology now, include:
Ikea: The ‘Ikea Place’ AR app is truly revolutionary. Using point, pick, and click, customers can virtually place Ikea products in their own home to see how they fit and look in real-time situ.
Estee Lauder: Have integrated augmented reality with social media via the Facebook Messenger bot to allow customers to try on virtual lipsticks before buying.
SnapChat: A recent meme known as the ‘dancing hot dog’ was a great success. SnapChat used AR to apply the ‘hot dog’ cartoon character to posts, thereby massively increasing the post’s interaction and sending content using the character, viral.
Bud Light: Augmented reality was used by Bud Light to give NFL fans a treat whilst building a strong brand presence. The app allowed fans to take a selfie and apply virtual paint and helmets to their face. They could then share the image and content via social media. In an industry which is increasingly losing advertising engagement as fans move off traditional viewing platforms, this was a clever way to bring people back into the loop.
Delphi: Automotive parts supplier Delphi, are using an AR app to show how the Delphi product range is used in a Honda Civic car. The client takes a scan of a real-life Honda and the app shows an augmented ‘x-ray’ image of the Delphi parts inside the car.
What are the challenges in using Augmented Reality in content marketing?
There are challenges to using any new technology and augmented reality is no exception. Current challenges include:
- Mobile-focused: Augmented reality headsets are not yet fully available for consumers and the ones that are available are expensive. Currently, most uses of AR are mobile-based and so is challenging in achieving the right level of interaction.
- Getting the content/AR balance right: Content is still king, even when augmented reality is overlaid. Making sure that the AR does not detract from the underlying content is a challenge.
- Early adoption: AR is still fairly new to the market. It has massive potential, and as we have seen earlier, it is starting to gain exposure. However, it is still fairly new to marketing. But those who take up the AR mantle are likely, themselves, to get marketing exposure.
Augmented reality – mixed reality
Technology is changing the way we do business and the way we market our business. As we lose the traditional ways of reaching out to our customers, new technologies like augmented reality, open up new opportunities and challenges. When Google Glass came out a few years ago it failed. But the time is now and it is back with vengeance. Google Glass could make augmented reality even more real for consumers. Soon, AR will move off the mobile and into our real living spaces mixing our realities and opening up new channels for marketers. As content marketers the story we tell will be able to jump off the page and into the real-world, bringing with it new customer experiences and deep engagement like never before.