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Mobile First : Gimmick or Game On?

Why marketers need to realize augmented reality isn't just a fad

May 2014 By M.J. Anderson
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There's been a lot of talk about augmented reality (AR) lately. We've all seen the great examples from companies like Ikea and heard the buzz about Google Glass. But still some marketers call AR a gimmick. They liken it to the buzz a couple of years ago about QR Codes. While QR Codes offered marketers a way to move audiences from a print piece to a digital call to action, AR fundamentally changes the way we interact with audiences.

These media-rich experiences allow not just viewing, but interacting with animation, graphics and links to relevant content. And we know that if we can communicate with someone through an interactive experience, we have a higher likelihood of continuing a dialog or fulfilling a customer need.

AR has been on our radar for several years, and it has come a long way in that time. The tools and standards are now in place and are widely accepted. Mobile device manufacturers continue to add functionality that deepens the AR experience.

In February, Juniper Research projected annual revenues from mobile AR services and applications will reach $1.2 billion by 2015, up from just over $180 million last year. According to Juniper, consumer adoption of AR applications during the past 12-18 months is being fuelled by big-name brands and retailers. With mobile now recognized as a primary engagement channel, Unilever, Nestle and Heinz have identified AR as a key means of enhancing and increasing engagement within campaigns.

The technology is here. It's relevant. And it's too big to ignore.

Why AR? Why Now?
Mobile devices have radically changed the way we communicate with each other. They're changing our laws. They're changing our culture. They're becoming the gateway to everything media.

Adoption rates are staggering, and have led to some pretty startling statistics. Last year, four times as many phones were activated than babies being brought into the world to actually use those devices. From smartphones to tablets, these ubiquitous devices are capturing more and more of our time. From reading email, searching the Web, listening to music and watching videos, they keep us engaged every single day. In 2013, eMarketer reported that U.S. consumers were spending an average of 82 minutes per day on their mobile devices-and that didn't even include time spent talking on the phone.

If the average consumer is spending this much time engaged with these devices, it makes sense to have content ready to be delivered through that channel. It's also clear that businesses need to adjust their marketing communications spends to deal with this new mobile reality.


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