5 Creative Ways Marketers Are Using Augmented Reality

06 Dec


Here at eventeem, we love to discuss exciting new technologies and their potential within the events and experiential marketing landscapes.  Whilst augmented reality is nothing new, it has been a hot topic this year, thanks in no small part to the release of Pokémon go. However, the real selling point which has made AR stand out is how realistic and engaging the experience has become, as a result of the leaps forward in the technology.


For those who’ve never heard of AR, check out this TED Talk fby Meron Gribetz explaining and demonstrating the technology and its potential uses:



Experts predict only growth for the industry with;

“Total revenue for virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is projected to increase from $5.2 billion in 2016 to over $162 billion in 2020”. (IDC)

As well as big players like Microsoft, Facebook involved the technology is sure to follow this pattern of growth. Apple too are moving into the industry, CEO Tim Cook said;

“We are high on AR for the long run. We think there are great things for customers and a great commercial opportunity.”  (SiliconRepublic)

Because of this, we think it best to give you a lowdown of our 5 favourite uses for augmented reality, and how further improvements to the technology stand to improve the user’s experience.



5 Most Engaging Uses


Out of home promotion

OOH promotions are a clever way of using augmented reality to deliver a shared experience. Bus stops and billboards are popular targets, the combination of high footfall locations and an engaging AR experience is effective because it is unconventional. These promotions are uncommon and as such carry a ‘wow factor’.


The Walking Dead:

Check out this bus stop modified to promote AMC’s The Walking dead on Sky. We previously covered a similar campaign by Pepsi, however this installation has a slightly more realistic touch to it, making viewers’ reactions that little bit more entertaining!



NHS Give Blood:

This next campaign caught our eye because it effectively combines mobile and OOH to create a personalised, engaging experience. This NHS Give Blood campaign poster changes as consumers interact with the app, “healing” the patient and thanking passers-by as they donate their blood.



People who see OOH advertising are 17% more likely to engage via mobile according to Marketing Week. It is therefore important for brands to build these synergies into their campaigns as the NHS have done.



Visualisation Technology

Visualisation AR technology allows consumers to use the cameras on their devices to see how a particular product would look in a real world context, without first having to buy it. This technology is obviously huge for e-commerce, solving one of the longstanding problems that comes with buying without trying. However, moreover, this technology allows brands to bring their marketing into the homes of consumers reducing the disparity of information and therefore increasing trust.

IKEA Catalog

Below are two examples of vizualisation technology in action, the first is the IKEA Catalog, which uses augmented reality technology to position furniture within rooms, allowing consumers to see how the dimension will fit in with the current set up:



Lacoste LCST

Finally, we have the Lacoste LCST visualisation app, which overlays various items of footwear onto the user. Different styles can be swiftly scrolled through and the app links directly to the store, showing a focused consumer narrative.




Social Augmented Reality

Social AR, as a technology, is still very much in its infancy. However, due to the size of the companies involved and the impetus they’re putting on the medium, we have and will continue to see huge advances made. Social AR allows you to communicate and interract with friends and colleagues through their “avatars”. The format requires headgear, however, the images are laid over the real world rather than being entirely virtual.


Microsoft Hololens

This first example is the Microsoft Hololens, perhaps the most advanced of these technologies, which allows users to share a wide variety of immersive experiences, from games to construction projects:



Facebook Social

The next example is from Facebook, whilst technically VR, is included because the technology can still draw from the the real world environment around it. This allows for a similar level of interactivity as the Hololens, just with  less mobility:



Alternate Technologies

To prove that this isn’t going to be another industry dominated by the heavy hitters, here’s 3 alternatives which can be bought right now:





We can all agree that games are getting frighteningly realistic these days. However, with AR technology, our favourite video game characters can join us in the real world. The easiest experiences to engage are those based in what we know, understand and therefore can relate to.


Pokémon GO

Thus, it’s no surprise that Pokémon GO had such a warm reception. The game allows players of all ages to go out and live the dream of being a Pokémon trainer by exploring the world around them, leading to scenes like these where a rare Pokémon appeared in a local park:



Zombies, Run!

AR is not restricted to visuals! In the case of “Zombies, Run!” the game uses an audio track and GPS to create an immersive experience where the user is running from an a horde of ensuing zombies. The success of this idea demonstrates the importance of not becoming fixated on one aspect of a technology, a sort-of ‘forest and trees’ scenario:




Appearance Alteration

Finally, we come to appearance alteration. If you have ever heard of Snapchat, then you are aware of appearance altering AR technology. It allows users to modify how they look through the use of filters and is one of the apps driving USPs, according to thecommsco “Snapchat’s Augmented Reality success was particularly prominent during the Super Bowl, when Gatorade’s Snapchat received 165 million views.”



The beauty of this technology is the diversity, exemplified here by Modiface. The app lets users trial make-up without having to visit the store:




The Takeaways For Marketing & Events


OOH promotion: This stands to become a staple in advertising. The medium allows brands to create a personalised consumer experience of the advert, ‘a la’ Minority Report. The technology makes billboards and other OOH installations engaging rather than motionless and easy to walk past. There is also a great potential here for use as fixtures during experiential marketing events. Having interactive AR adverts is a big draw and makes a campaign look appear progressive to potential visitors.


Visualisation: This functionality stands to replace the consumer catalog. It can be seen in the example of Covent Garden and blippar below that the uses go far beyond this. The app is able to provide detailed information on events, stores, restaurants and bars in an area is available “on the fly” to mobile devices, along with special offers, prize draws and other rewards. AR could well be the next battlefield on which marketers fight to engage consumers.


Social AR: Having already covered the potential of social AR in our previous article on Microsoft HoloLens here, we will keep this analysis brief. The main takeaway of this technology is potential to collaborate with people across the globe with the same communicative potential as if they were in the same room. For event planners, it is the perfect tool for walking through mock-up installations allowing experiences to be tailored to a previously unheard of level of detail.


Gameification: Through Pokémon GO we have seen the mass-marketability of AR games. As technology continues to progress universally, the onus will remain on the quality of the experience provided. This will ring most true in the events industry, where the potential time consumers have to spend with the experience will be less and so therefore, creating an instant engagement is paramount.


Appearance alteration: This technology presents opportunities on multiple fronts:

On the one hand, for brands in the beauty and fashion industries, more advanced appearance alteration technologies open up the possibility for consumers to trial at home those products which would normally only be available in store. E-commerce is sure to benefit from this. This presents event marketers with the opportunity to engage consumers by allowing them to see how new or prototype products will look on them, which adds to the exclusivity associated with their event.

On the other hand, appearance alteration technologies present the opportunity for co-created, branded, uniquely personalised content from the consumer, which we already see with Snapchat’s branded filters. As this technology develops we will inevitably see more brands making use of it is part of their event or conference apps. Interestingly it remains to be seen whether during its meteoric rise, a competitor will arise for Snapchat who are currently the dominating force in the market.



Moving Forward

In the context of marketing as a whole, it is the level of seamless integration into the overall campaign which will be the deciding factor on how effective AR can be. Therefore time and resources should be focused on creating a truly engaging experience, over reliance on the technology itself to carry the campaign.


If you’re interested in running or staffing an experiential marketing campaign, contact us today.