Earlier this year, augmented reality (AR) and digital marketing specialist, Marta Plone, joined Team Overly. Having helped the AR giant Snapchat establish a strong presence across the Baltics and Finland, Marta is now shaping Overly’s global offering. She is helping business clients with expert guidance on planning, building, and delivering lucrative augmented reality campaigns. Read on if you want to learn how to use AR tools more strategically and generate a clear return on investment (ROI).

Describe your role at Overly?

My job title is Product Owner, but it really holds on to two roles. Firstly, I am leading the development of our self-service AR creator, making sure that augmented reality is understandable and accessible to as many people as possible. I ensure that Overly Creator is continuously improved and enables people to create anything from small family AR surprises to meaningful business campaigns.

 

The other role is helping expand people’s perception of advertising and marketing. We all have gotten too good at ignoring the vast advertising spaces around us, including outdoor banners, magazine specials, TV commercials or paid social media posts. Augmented reality provides a brand new and perspective direction that businesses can take to engage with their target audience. However, not everyone understands how to seize its potential and that’s what I am helping with.

Could you tell us how you got into the world of tech & augmented reality marketing?

I’ve always been interested in technology, and I was considering doing software development after high school. However, I chickened out as I thought it might be too complex and went on to study biology. By the way, I have gotten a great life lesson since: “Don’t be afraid of things that you really like”.

 

Despite my university major, technologies kept following me. I started to manage websites and social media marketing campaigns to help out friends and support companies I worked at. At one point, I realized that I like technologies more than biology and decided to go into an industry that is intertwined with tech—digital marketing. Ads work on concrete algorithms, and I enjoy understanding the technicalities.

After years in digital marketing, I had the opportunity to start working with a global brand that was also a completely new platform in my region, Snapchat. Augmented reality, still a novelty technology across the Baltic States and Finland, clearly presented great potential. I took on the challenge, and after a couple of years I had a solid team behind me. Together we drove significant uptake across the business community which led to 130% year-on-year growth in the region. Meanwhile, our clients enjoyed AR campaigns that delivered a significant return-on-investment.

What would you say is the biggest difference between digital and augmented reality marketing?

The main difference is how people perceive augmented reality marketing—digital marketing is recognized as advertising while AR is often seen as entertainment.

 

People find AR more interesting. They enjoy playing with the content interacting with 3D visualizations in their environment. If an AR campaign is successful, the brand sees its audience engage with its advertising materials much longer and develop more positive associations. While one may watch a digital marketing video ad for up to 5 seconds, AR engagement lasts on average 15 seconds and more. AR also lends itself to conversion-based campaigns. Once the audience has a positive interaction with AR, they are more likely to purchase, for example.

How has augmented reality developed in the marketing space, and how much further can AR go?

I have focused on augmented reality marketing for more than two years, and these technologies are as much in their infancy as they continuously advance. At first, I worked with many facial lenses. Then we embraced ads with 3D content that no longer augment a person’s face but enhance their environment. We had a food delivery client that let people select and place 3D burgers on their table at home and trigger a food order. AR shoe and accessory try-ons came a while after I started, but it proved to be a great way to entertain and help people choose items they like.

 

I would say that technologically the most exciting solutions developed over time are ones where you can augment various real-world locations or objects and place yourself in those scenarios. The development is very rapid, and I cannot even imagine where it will be in the next five years.

Could you share your thoughts on the benefits of marker-based vs markerless augmented reality?

Currently, marker-based augmented reality is more straightforward to implement, accessible, and available to all people through platforms like Overly Creator. Markerless AR is more challenging and is more expensive to bring to life.

Who or what in the AR space inspires you?

Snapchat guided me into this sphere and naturally inspired me. Technologically, they are advanced, but I also appreciate their values. The company’s fundamental principles are shaped around being kind, smart and creative, and their teams extend these qualities as they work with internal and external stakeholders.

 

I joined Overly, because of inspiration also. I appreciate that Overly democratizes AR creation and is genuinely accessible to all. People who want to experience AR don’t need to register or set up an account. They can download the Overly app or use WebAR to see the magic. Creators, meanwhile, don’t need a team of developers or designers behind them to make things happen.

What business goals can augmented reality help companies achieve?

Brand awareness is a worthy goal for AR because it creates positive associations with a company’s products or services. As the global lockdown emerged, we saw retailers establish and enhance e-commerce stores overnight. Businesses had to explore new advertising possibilities to get noticed, and augmented reality was leading the way across food & beverage, retail and gaming sectors. 

 

AR is also an excellent tool for driving conversions. As I mentioned before, people are more likely to take action, including making a purchase, after a positive augmented reality experience. A true hit for this is makeup or clothing try-ons or the ability to place 3D products in people’s environments. 

 

However, there are strategic uses across the whole marketing funnel, and AR can add value across awareness, consideration and conversion efforts. However, it is vital to set clear goals for each campaign and utilize appropriate call-to-action functionalities.

Can you share some insights into what ROI augmented reality has produced for businesses you’ve worked with?

There are many public success stories on SnapChat’s website, but I can provide some anonymized figures. For example, we delivered a campaign for a regional beauty retailer. To boost their e-commerce sales, they employed AR technology to power “virtual try ons”. The Lens generated a conversion rate of more than 15%, tripling the ad investment return. For retailers, body tracking try-ons is also a big one. We have seen how AR drives purchase decisions, and rocket advertising dwell time to half a minute. 

 

However, we don’t try on everything we come to own. That’s why utilizing 3D models is also huge. A car manufacturer let people place virtual vehicles into their environments. Almost one million users interacted with the ad. Plus, they interacted with the AR experience three times on average each. It is pretty wild to think we’d replay a traditional car ad several times on purpose, right?

What are the prerequisites for a successful augmented reality ad/marketing campaign?

In all the examples I described, the brand is just a beneficiary by offering interactive experiences. And the more engagement-focused the content, the better augmented reality works. Focus on delivering engagement and find a clever way to integrate brand messages.

 

Establishing a clear campaign goal is also crucial just as narrowing your audience. If you truly have a global offer, go for it, but generally, I wouldn’t advise selecting a large audience to present a niche product. In a nutshell, you should know your goal and test your audience’s behavior before creating AR. And always build augmented reality campaigns with an engagement-first mindset. That’s my key takeaway.

Is anything stopping organizations from using augmented reality strategically?

What’s often lacking is knowledge about augmented reality and its opportunities as such. SME marketers often don’t know that AR is accessible to them. Leading brands understand what happens in the industry and are the first to embrace new technologies. Many smaller organizations with limited budgets are not aware that there are tools they can access to create campaigns that are just as impressive. 

 

Similarly, companies often feel limited to using tools integrated with a specific platform. If they want to use these platforms, their target audience must also be there. A huge segment outside of these platforms is also ready and keen to experience AR technologies. That’s why I think AR applications and WebAR are getting huge in the marketing space, as they aren’t limiting marketers to a single social media platform.

Is AR only for marketers, though?

Augmented reality usually seeps into businesses via the creative team and marketing department. However, the technology can be a holistic business tool and complement almost any department. Starting with employee onboarding to technical AR guidance in the IT department.

Where to begin if a business wants to build an AR campaign?

They should read our blog and test our demo case studies. Then, set up a free account on Overly Creator to test the platform. You need to immerse yourself in the world of AR, and ideas will be born from thereon. 

When would you say is the best time for organizations to start engaging with augmented reality?

It is not too late to get started, but the sooner you start, the better your ability to position your brand within the augmented reality space in the long term.  

 

👉Leave a comment below if you have any questions for Marta and we’ll get them answered. You can also engage directly and connect with Marta Plone on LinkedIn.

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