Pokémon Go is a bona fide cultural phenomenon. It may just be the biggest mobile game in U.S. history, and developers are now scrambling to snatch up other popular IPs to attach to similar kinds of AR games.
A Pokémon in the hand… (Pokémon Go’s AR at work)
Pokémon Go is many players’ introduction to AR, and the game may end up being AR’s killer app. But the technology is nothing new, even if only geeks, the military and workers in niche industries have been aware of it until now.
So what exactly is AR? Mashable defines it as, “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 or GPS data.”
AR has been around for several years now, and has been implemented in a variety of unique and creative ways beyond just gaming. Military drones utilize it to increase their operators’ situational awareness. Industrial engineers use its added visual information to aid in assembly and maintenance. Even surgeons are finding AR helpful as both a prep tool and an assistant in the operating theater.
AR can be especially beneficial for marketing purposes, if used effectively. Let’s take a look at a real-world example of AR implementation to illustrate how it can best be deployed!
Making Their Mark: How Watermark Uses AR for Marketing
Lindsay Boyajian is the chief marketing officer at Augment, a company that builds AR platforms for businesses. She’s familiar with the many ways that AR can be implemented to create a better marketing experience for both consumers and B2B sales. A prime example is Watermark, a company that manufactures meal service equipment for major airlines.
According to Boyajian, “Before [Watermark] goes and actually manufactures these products they can sit with the executives of the airline and actually show them what the prototypes are going to look like in AR. They save a ton of time and money because they’re not going back and forth manufacturing prototypes.”
“They don’t pay for tooling, they don’t pay for the manufacturing, and then the clients love it and they can actually show them different prototypes side by side and interact with them.”
Using Augment AR in retail
Watermark isn’t the only company to successfully implement AR for their sales force. Coca-Cola’s field teams utilize AR at supermarkets to show managers exactly how a branded cooler would look in their retail space. Boyajian explains, “Their product is unleashed into the real world without being physically there.”
In both of these cases, according to Boyajian, creative use of AR makes a brand appear forward-thinking, and thus one step ahead of the competition.
So how do you stay on top of the technology, innovations and fads that are going to bear dividends in the future?
1. Know What’s Next
Expand your daily blog feed from just what’s new in the worlds of marketing and SEO to what’s happening in the world of tech, including the niche worlds of gaming and “geek” culture. Increasingly, those subcultures are becoming the dominant culture.
Take virtual reality (VR), for example. The technology has been around for decades, but lacked wide-scale adoption.
Then, just this past March, the Oculus Rift came out. The Oculus Rift is the first major mass-marketed VR gaming platform and may just be the breakthrough that VR has needed to become a part of everyday life. There are already several competitors in the works, including the HTC Vine and Playstation VR. Heck, the Tribeca Film Festival recently announced that they’ll be accepting VR submissions for 2017.
After twenty years, VR is making the move from niche to chic.
The Oculus Rift
For marketers, this means that soon you’ll be able to create full VR experiences that will allow you to transport your clients wherever you want. You could, for example, show them what a completed construction project will look like, or give hotel patrons a tour of the room they want to rent. The possibilities are limited more by imagination than technology, so you need to learn all you can about the latter in order to fully engage the former.
The case of VR shows that there is always going to be a new technology that will make this leap into the mainstream, whether that be AR, VR, or whatever kind of “reality” is next. It only makes sense to interrogate each of these new technologies as they break out in order to determine whether it makes sense for you to incorporate them into your marketing strategies.
If so, it’s time to brainstorm and think up ways of engaging customers using this new tech!
2. Know What’s Failed
It’s part of human nature to learn from our mistakes, but as a marketer you don’t just have to learn from your own mistakes. You can also learn from the mistakes made by others.
Google Glass was supposed to literally change the way we see the world...except it didn’t. The product was hyped far more than it was ever actually purchased by consumers.
This is why, although it’s important to take advantage of new tech trends, you need to be wary about becoming too mired in a particular technology until it has proven itself on the market. You also should consider whether or not it is realistic to integrate a new technology into your marketing strategy.
That said, also consider whether or not an entire technology has failed, or just one particular iteration of it has. Look at how long it’s taken for VR to catch on.
The tech behind Google Glass hasn’t gone away, and actually has a lot in common with today’s AR and VR technology. When one particular iteration of a technology fails to succeed, that doesn’t mean the technology itself won’t be back, bigger than ever.
Pay attention to the innovation behind the product, and not just the product itself, so you can take advantage of that tech when it returns.
As a marketer, it’s important that you know what’s failed, follow the trends of what’s new, know what’s increasingly popular in niche communities, and most of all keep stock of how you can turn all of those technologies to your advantage. After all, when the next Pokémon Go arrives, you want to already be on the move to embrace it so that your business and brand can benefit!
3. Take Steps to Discover New Tech Possibilities
Marketing is a constant game of innovation and evolution. Here’s a few things you can do to stay innovative and evolve your ideas using the latest and greatest tech:
1. Stay aware of the latest tech products, news and innovations (Product Hunt, TechCrunch, and CNET are great places to start).
2. Know what hasn’t succeeded in the past so you can predict how it might return in the future.
3. Keep a living document of the technologies that people seem most excited about, and figure out some early ideas about how your business might use that technology to its advantage (think about not just traditional outbound marketing, but also inbound content creation).
About the Writer
Andrew Friedenthal, Market Research Associate, Software Advice
Andrew Friedenthal is a Market Research Associate at reviews company Software Advice, working in the Marketing Automation and CRM space. He holds a PhD in American Studies from the University of Texas in Austin, and holds degrees in Theater and Performance Studies from Dartmouth College and NYU. He has previously worked as a professor at both UT and St. Edward's University, and has published several academic articles studying popular culture.