While a lot of recent research looks at how to drive engagement with augmented reality, there is one essential step that seems to be skipped. Before your AR content can drive any traction for your brand, you have to ensure that your audience is aware of it and interacts with it. 

 

Although social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are integrating augmented reality (AR) solutions seamlessly within people’s feeds, most of the augmented reality market still requires users to actively choose whether to engage with AR content by visiting a webAR site or downloading an AR app. 

Remember — it is a consumer’s choice whether to engage with augmented reality

Before I go on with ideas, I want to acknowledge that there are forms of augmented reality that people do not have to choose to engage with necessarily. This includes bogus windows, which can be incorporated in various public places. A famous example is Pepsi’s bus stop AR campaign. Another one is magic mirrors that allow people to augment themselves in shopping centers or stores.

 

However, when it comes to mobile augmented reality marketing, the choice is in the hands of the consumer. For this purpose, I really like Kim Dushinskis‘ definition of mobile marketing, and I think it goes hand in hand with mobile augmented reality marketing. In her book, The Mobile Marketing Handbook, she shares her definition: “Mobile marketing connects businesses and each of their customers (through their mobile devices) at the right time and at the right place with the right message and requires the customer’s explicit permission and/or active interaction.”

 

It is no secret that getting people to engage with advertising content is one of the biggest challenges in marketing, consumers are getting savvier at avoiding and dismissing ads. So before mobile augmented reality can drive engagement for your business, you need to inspire people to interact with it. Below are some promo ideas to ensure that your killer content doesn’t get missed by mobile users.

Promotion of augmented reality features for one-off campaigns

Although more and more businesses are waking up to the potential of AR, most organizations utilize augmented reality for their marketing initiatives periodically or once in a blue moon. This means that it is not worth investing in a custom-made app. It’s a better idea to team up with an agency, which provides the service. There are plenty of businesses that specialize in custom AR solutions, including Overly appZapWorksBlippar, and more.

 

Whichever provider you choose to work with, remember that your partner for the AR project is indeed your partner and not an afterthought. So, you have to be ready to feature their company info within your campaign, including the logo, to get people to download or use their solution and view your AR content. 

 

It may seem obvious, but it doesn’t always pan out right. I’ve created a few mockup fashion magazine covers to paint the picture.

Out of the three options, version number one is the best for promoting a print AR campaign regardless if it is a sales brochure, magazine or something along those lines.

 

Why?

  1. It features a value proposition — benefits of using AR (if you use AR, you’ll be able to explore products in 3D)
  2. An action plan (simple instructions on how to use AR)
  3. A partner’s logo (makes it easier to find the partner’s app online, this could be replaced with a QR code or website link)
  4. The information has similar weight to other headlines, which makes AR to be an exclusive feature that should be noticed. 

 

While the second option does provide written information, it doesn’t give visual aids that would help the reader to associate the logo with the app title in Google Play or App Store. When opening the magazine, the reader may not know what logo they should look for or what it means if they see it by accident.

 

Unfortunately, to keep up with various brand guidelines, the unlikely option three is often desired most by clients. And sometimes, we have to go with it. If this is the case and you absolutely cannot include information about the AR content on the magazine cover, you can write up instructions and highlight them on each page, where AR is available. You can also highlight the feature in the first opening and then place a small recall image in the following pages be it your partner’s logo or a design of your choice. However, you have to ensure the instructions are easily noticeable.

Visual aids may be especially relevant for product packaging, tickets, etc. Below is an example of Ed Sheeran’s promo stickers that had limited space. Notice how prominent the information about augmented reality features is.

Here is a simple layout to provide inspiration for other tight space projects. You can use similar icons, but your AR partner may provide you with a set of images to make your life easier. The below layout may work better for large format pieces, like OD advertising or under scannable exhibits in an art gallery, where you do not want to disrupt the minimalistic design. But keep in mind, people have to notice the instructions.

Promo staff at events and exhibitions

When it comes to art galleries, museums, or one-off exhibitions, you can, at times, get away with limited instructions at the venue. However, the promo campaign that takes place ahead of the exhibition should inform potential visitors of augmented reality add-ons, encouraging people to save time and download the app in advance of attending.

 

You could also put up large posters about augmented reality functionality at the entry, or you could hand out small instructions at the door to every visitor, guiding people on making the most of their experience.

 

What often works wonders, is dedicated promo people at events who share “how-tos” with visitors. Promotional staff can be tasked with driving interest, even just by using the AR app on their phones and tablets, therefore showcasing to guests what can be retrieved through the mobile devices they have. This often gets visitors more confident in installing a new app on their own phones. But as you will surely have more guests than promoters, you have to ensure that visual aids are also available.

Location, location, location

Although communication is critical, you also have to consider where the AR experience you offer is provided and if a certain venue in a crucial feature of your overall campaign. This is important because the location is going to determine your audience. Although, on second thought, it may be better if your audience determines your location preferences.

 

When we just started out with Overly and were testing various scenarios of where people are happy to engage with augmented reality, we placed an art exhibition in one of the biggest shopping centers in the Baltics. The exhibit featured multiple augmented reality markers that could be scanned with the Overly app to reveal the stories of their authors. It is quite a shame to say that we finished the campaign with just 10 scans. While one may wonder how is that possible in a location that has quite a high footfall, with more than five years of experience under our belts, we are now aware of the dynamics of the environment where AR fits best.

 

For an art exhibition, it is best to choose a particular location, where your audience goes explicitly to explore your artworks. A great example on the opposite end of the spectrum is the augmented reality portrait exhibition “MOMENTUM”. It was set up in a dedicated venue, a brand new residential building that had no footfall of its own, yet, portraits received thousands of scans.

 

The difference in both scenarios is that one is targeting the general public and the other one —  a niche public.A person visiting an exhibition goes there on purpose and is more open to utilize news ways, including augmented reality, to gain as much information and insight as possible. An exhibition in a shopping center could still be a success, if it utilized a phenomena that appeals to masses or included a competition or a reward for participations. Shoppers are people from all walks of life, interested in so many different things, nipping in hoping to get from A to Z as quickly as possible.

 

So to conclude, augmented reality in my opinion is better for targeting niche markets unless your content can offer exclusive rewards or insight on more general topics.

Cross-channel promotion and shareability

You can kick-start your augmented reality campaigns on social media, but it also has to be done correctly. Celebrity or influencer endorsement is excellent, although popular brands with a vast array of followers could get away with promotion across brand-owned social media channels.

 

A couple of years ago, we worked with a brewery, which run an AR campaign on their social media channels without adding any visuals aids on its packaging. They shared AR functionality on their social media channels and invited people to share video snippets of themselves with the AR beer can on social to take part in a competition.

 

Another client of ours used a cross-channel approach and captured greater engagement. Last year we worked on a campaign with a milk manufacturer. The company featured the AR promotion both on its packaging and on social. Plus, they encouraged people to share their AR experience on social media using specific hashtags. They also used celebrity endorsement via social, as the campaign featured Eurovision contestants from Estonia. The cross channel promotion and shareability worked a treat and boosted engagement across platforms with a wealth of user-generated content.

“Content is king” goes for augmented reality as well

This is a cliche saying, but it absolutely right for augmented reality campaigns. Even if you are doing great at promoting your AR content, the content itself has to be exclusive and engaging, so people would want to spread the word or share it on social media. Let them see through AR what they could not otherwise see, add value, be informative, entertaining, or both. 

 

I look at augmented reality as a form of visual storytelling. For that, I really enjoy some points that Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio make in their book “The Power of Visual Storytelling”. They highlight this “show, don’t tell” approach, which is where the potential of augmented reality can be most seized in terms of content. I believe that apps like IKEA Place or the L’oreal’s “Makeup Genius” use the approach of “showing” by allowing people to try on make-up or place furniture in their living rooms. This content is actually helpful for decision making, and *research has shown that this spatial presence of products through augmented reality increases people’s decision comfort with their purchase.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be all about marketing. It can solely be exclusive content that drives engagement. A couple of years back, we worked with the Latvian National Museum of Art. We created an exhibition that looked like a bunch of QR codes. When scanning those codes to discover AR content, people were able to explore hidden paintings. It absolutely spiked the app downloads and scans. We had a similar experience with the famous graffiti artist, Kiwie, who created an exhibition, where the AR content revealed something that could not be recovered anywhere else. Visitors could just enjoy the artworks, but they were more inclined to use augmented reality to see what hides behind them.

While the makeup apps, accessory tryons, or furniture placement are both informative and entertaining, a lot of AR content can be just exclusive and fun. The thing is that it has to be qualitative and add value. Another **research that I advise to look through showed that both entertainment and informativeness are vital, along with inspiration that can be provided by high-quality content.

 

I hope that you found useful information in my write-up, please leave a comment if you have any questions or want to add your ideas. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn below.

 

*Augmenting the eye of the beholder: exploring the strategic potential of augmented reality to enhance online service experiences

**Augmented reality marketing: How mobile AR-apps can improve brands through inspiration

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