Commentary

Understanding ROI In Augmented Reality: Results Today, Not Just Promise For Tomorrow

We frequently see “Augmented Reality: The Next Big Thing” kind of headlines in our space. It is absolutely true, but also maddening with the implication that ours is still an embryonic, futuristic technology and not a marketing solution for now

We, however, know better.

Those in the augmented reality space have spent the majority of our short history selling the potential of AR and image-recognition to investors, potential clients and the media. But with strong results now under our belts, we’ve been able to make a critical shift away from what we could achieve to what we already are achieving – a focus on real results, case studies, and what’s converting for our partners’ marketing goals today. 

What is ROI in AR?   

ROI is no different within this marketing medium than in any other: branding, engagement, increased awareness and, ultimately, direct sales per dollar spent on marketing.    

To date, brands have bought traditional media by exposure or circulation rates -- throwing ‘x’ at plastering a message all over the physical world in order to see a general uplift in sales of ‘y’ -- a formula that works, but an inexact science, to say the least.

Now, for the very first time, engagement is tangible and quantifiable through these formats. By using IR/AR to turbo-charge bought media, brands can see exactly how many people interact with their collateral, how many times and where, for how long and precisely which direct actions they took:purchase, discount coupon, or social shares, etc.

Valuing an interaction

Where m-commerce and direct-response purchase are a realistic possibility, they can be tracked. Where Web visits or video plays are desired, they can be delivered. When ‘likes’ or m-coupon downloads are a KPI, they can be reported in absolute terms – and more. Whatever action a smartphone, tablet or wearable is capable of doing, AR apps can trigger from a physical, real-world image or product.

Of course, in many campaigns, AR is just one engagement tool within a noisy cross-media web of categories for which a direct purchase isn’t an option.  But the value of each engagement is quite unlike any other in the physical marketing landscape, for two critical reasons.

First, in the case of pull-based apps, the content has been proactively requested, rather than simply dropped in the consumer’s path. But just as important, with such interactions, marketers have a user’s undivided attention. We’ve found that an average blipp lasts 75 seconds. That’s over a minute of the user directly engaging with content, which is more than double that of TV and radio spots, where the average length of engagement is about 30 seconds.

Moreover, on top of direct interactions, AR also offers powerful social exposure of shareable content. Our data shows that 10% to 20% of blipps are posted to Facebook and Twitter and seen by hundreds of followers per user.

So what’s all this worth? When taken into consideration with the rich quantitative data (unprecedented for these media types), it has to be worth many multiples the value of eyeballs that may not otherwise have paused as they turned a page or waited at a bus stop. 

Data to inform creative and buying strategy

This technology isn’t only providing tangible engagement; it also offers strategic insight. Brands and agencies are able to a-b test different ad copy and creative to see which convert best; to analyze different media partner conversions to inform their buying strategy, and to discover which outdoor poster site locations yield greatest response.

Increasingly, clients will also be able to track their success against that of competitors -- albeit through anonymous benchmarks -- creating an industry bank of best practice guides from which everyone can benefit.

How to ensure strong ROI

Ensuring strong ROI looks simpler than you think. It’s all about content, content, content. The best-performing campaigns have nailed the obvious: 

1) Strong investment in well-thought-out content experiences that entertain, reward or help the customer in some way. 

2) Clear, high-profile education and call-to-action to inform the user that content is there to be interacted with and experienced.  

3) Specific strategies and goals behind the combination of mediums being used for the campaign; the variety and type used will have a direct impact.

4) Concerted promotional efforts via social media and PR.

The days of one-off testing or seeking to tick an innovation box are over; it’s time to build AR and pull-based solutions into the long-term strategy, and to reap the ROI rewards now, not to wait until tomorrow.  

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