On Wednesday 28th April 2010, The Heavy Chef Project hosted a talk by Rich Mulholland on Augmented Reality (for those marketers amongst you with your head in the sand, Augmented Reality is the use of digital media within real life situations). We asked Rich to hold up a magnifying glass to this much vaunted technology and he delivered a scintillating talk. The conclusion Rich made was that, for AR to be truly effective, marketers and businesses must move away from seeing it as a novelty and looking to it as a utility.
I reckon we can all agree that there’s a huge amount of hype around the topic, probably too much. Blogs, newspapers, magazines and news portals around the globe are talking about AR.
Take a look at this example: Ford used augmented reality to create buzz around the Ka, er, car.
A conservative company could easily dismiss the example above, because people are talking about the technology NOT the brand.
…BUT, people are still talking.
So, another conclusion we can draw is that there still is a window opportunity for us marketers to generate some awareness for our clients – in addition to positioning them as forward thinking and innovative.
So how do we build a brand using Augmented Reality? Here are two ways:
1. Adopt the Viral model
Basically, this means come up with a cool idea, then work damn hard to spread the word. Once the idea is implemented, its up to the marketer to get the social conduits working. It’s not a matter of sitting back and hoping it will take – in this environment, there are loads of good ideas. If you build it, they won’t come. Marketers have to set off a marketing juggernaut to make their idea stick, but when it does, and you get Digged, Stumbled and Shared, you come out looking like a superhero.
2. Create something truly useful
Basically this means that the technology is actually replacing something else (think how Twitter is replacing people’s use of RSS readers). This is the Holy Grail of using AR in your marketing – where you create something for your brand that is truly useful for customers.
While option 2 is more sustainable, effective and impactive, it is wayyy harder and, in most cases, more expensive. Option 1 (in the early days of this new, geeky marketing technology) can potentially be a quick win to make some noise. In most cases it will be gimmicky and less far-reaching, but if you do it right it’ll get people to notice your brand… and make you look good, awards-time.