3 Ways To Build On AR's Growing Momentum

In 2016, a little game called Pokemon Go changed the way we thought about AR, showing us how moving this technology could really be -- literally. For the first time, millions experienced an augmented reality so delightfully believable that it sent them willingly walking into traffic and traipsing into abandoned warehouses in the hopes to simply catch ‘em all. 

In different though equally powerful ways, 2020 yet again shifted the AR paradigm.

Proving its power beyond entertainment, AR set a steep utilitarian baseline last year, and consumers may expect an AR component in their digital dealings. How can brands build on expectations and increased comfort levels to deliver more captivating, elevated AR experiences?

Keep re-envisioning space. As we lived our lives more digitally, AR permeated more than just our free time, becoming part of virtually every facet of our lives largely by giving us ways of reimagining our spaces.

Sure, it entertained us. Verizon helped transform living rooms into an art venue to rival the Metropolitan Museum of Art with the Met Unframed, an immersive virtual art and gaming experience



And Zoom backgrounds and facial filters also helped boost our at-home professionalism (or so we hope), and young learners traversed the world from their bedroom desks. 

As we begin venturing out again, consider taking the same magic that transformed our homes into public. For example, pre-pandemic, Nike created a gamified, in-store AR experience to show off its latest all-weather gear collection via an artificially outdoor challenge that took place inside its House of Innovation store. Employees rewarded shoppers who completed the challenge with a physical gift, merging the digital world with the real.

Embrace the technology. 5G networks helped generate more robust AR experiences, and other developments indicate AR’s popularity will only grow. The iPhone 12’s LiDAR capability, already inspiring impressive -- and glittery! -- filters on Tiktok and Snapchat, makes AR smoother and more accurate, allowing for more detailed, believable experiences. It’s a game-changer, and a clear indicator that the future looks quite bright and quite augmented. 

Further, rumors around the wearables watercooler have us predicting that, whether Facebook and Ray-Ban’s AR glasses take off this year or not, marketers should take note of the buzz.  Advances in wearables signify that AR will become even more experiential than it already is. TikTok and Snapchat are on board to boost user experiences, with Snapchat’s lenses specifically to be used for viral TikTok dance challenges.

Staying on top of quickly advancing tech and considering test-and-learn opportunities for your brand will help generate anticipation.

Amp up the experiential.  Even when consumers couldn’t reach out and touch what they were buying, AR try-on was there to make them feel good about their online purchases. The beauty and fashion industry deftly wields AR with virtual makeovers -- from hair dye to shoes -- that lead swiftly to cart. And, hey, even if all users did was snap a pic and send it, you’re still ahead. How many ads are people willingly sharing and showing off to their friends, anyway?

Since digital try-on was so crucial this year, however, consumers have come to expect it. We suggest using AR to enhance shopping in ways even an IRL experience couldn’t replicate. 

For its Bloom fragrance, Gucci curated playable AR mazes on Snapchat. While it’s rather difficult -- impossible even -- to try on perfume over the internet, the mazes conveyed aspects of Gucci's scents with a sense of fun.

Go beyond digital try-on, and use AR to convey other facets of products or take storytelling to new heights.

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