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9 easy steps for turning augmented reality into marketing gold

9 easy steps for turning augmented reality into marketing gold David Zaleski

What is augmented reality? Basically, it's a live view of the physical real world whose elements are supplemented by computer graphics, sound, or video through a device. Reality is enhanced and enriched by overlays of computer effects which serve to help, entertain or educate the user. As a marketer, here's how you should start to leverage it for your brand.

First, recognize that right now augmented reality lives in the mobile apps channel

Traditionally, marketers have crafted their strategies by marketing in separate distinct silos containing different marketing channels. For example, print media may be one isolated silo of marketing punctuated by several channels ranging from magazines to newspapers.

Augmented reality lives inside the mobile silo inside the apps channel. Why is this important? Consumers are experiencing augmented reality mainly through apps on their smart phone or tablet. Focus on apps if you want to get started in creating 3D immersive experiences for your customers.

Understand your customer and their needs – align your augmented reality goals to meet those needs

Before you invest in technological and human resources to make augmented reality happen, you need to think about the needs of your customers. For example, Audi created an amazing augmented reality experience for their customers recently. With the new Audi app, if you are standing in front of an Audi car with your device, you can interact with images and do anything from paint it a different color, to get inside of it and interact with the dashboard, and other interior features. Last year Audi also released an augmented reality owner's manual app for their new Audi A3.

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Audi is a good example of big brands thinking first about what customers want before creating a digital interactive experience. Your brand should do the same.

Invest development resources into the creation of an augmented reality capable app

There are two big ways to go about actually implementing augmented reality. This is the first.

If you have a strategy and the means to execute it, set aside budget so that you can invest in creating an augmented reality app for your brand. This could be a separate app, or an augmented reality feature within your existing app. Whichever you choose, just be sure you don't underdo it. Make the interactive and immersive features of your experience as high quality as possible for your customers.

Partner with companies specializing in the technology

This is the other big way to start making augmented reality possible for your brand. There are many companies in the marketplace that are specializing in implanting this technology for companies looking to give their customers or users a full interactive digital experience. Form relationships and make business partnerships which will enable you to execute your ideas.

Use augmented reality to superimpose points of interest onto your brand or to improve customer experience via your app

In 2009, Yelp created the first augmented reality app which allows users to take their smart phone or tablet and turn it into an interactive map of ratings, directions and reviews. The app allows the user to simply hold up their device, turn on the application, and become immersed in a 3D-interactive, branded experience. This foray into augmented reality is a good example of how brands can utilize the technology to improve the experience of its service or product. Brainstorm ways to use augmented reality to superimpose over your brand in the store, and you could create a unique shopper marketing strategy. The possibilities are vast.

In this exclusive interview, iMedia's Bethany Simpson speaks to Michael Becker, North American market development and strategic advisor for Somo Ltd, about the new breakthrough ways augmented reality is being utilized by brands and agencies.

Create 360 degree immersive experiences for your product or business

Like Audi is showing us, augmented reality isn't just confined to laying graphics over the real world. It can be used to completely engulf your customer into a new one. Augmented reality is a unique technology and creates a special user experience because like virtual reality, you can control the world you put the participant in. With the rise of wearable technology like Google Glass, it's not too farfetched to think that in the near future, products on shelves may not even be necessary because they can be digitally imposed on a shelf via a Google Glass app. Likewise, we could soon live in a world where a customer holds up their smart phone in any setting and receives digitally branded additions to their surroundings. Brands should be thinking about the implications this could have on the industry.

Experiment, innovate, or just give it a try

This technology may seem so futuristic that many marketers might think it will never catch on in the mainstream. However, like any new technology, as it becomes more sophisticated and refined, the general public might come to expect it like they have come to expect a branded app or QR code. Now is the perfect time to begin experimenting and evolving your usage of augmented reality. Don't get left behind in a few years because you thought it would never catch on. Be one of the leaders who makes it catch on.

Don't think you need to find a successful strategy right away

Experimenting with augmented reality technology and conceptualizing potential future strategies doesn’t mean that your plans need to come to a perfect fruition right away. Consider the fact that it's OK to fail, and that you probably will create some busts. New technology that could have an impact on marketing is going to be tricky to execute, and your ideas will change. The right marketing strategy will come to you in time after you have run through several options that did not work.

Michael Becker continues our conversation by explaining his two top tips for getting started with this technology.

Leading brands need to do more than offer a product or service

Lastly, the reason that augmented reality is such a hot button topic right now is because it perfectly fits into the new way brands are reaching customers; through connectivity. It's not enough anymore to simply push or sell your product or service. Leading brands know that in order to survive and stand out in today's world, their strategy has to include tactics for seamless connectivity between mobile and digital out of home marketing. Consumers take their smart phones everywhere, and these devices have become the first screen. Marketers know that to reach consumers where they are, they need a stellar mobile strategy and a part of that strategy needs to incorporate digital out of home marketing tactics. Augmented reality could be a big one. It's a fun, immersive way to engage consumers, especially on the go.

Michael Becker ends our conversation by explaining why leading brands are working to enable more connectivity, rather than just push products.

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"Technology background, cloud computing, augmented reality" via Shutterstock.

David Zaleski is the Media Production Supervisor for iMedia Communications, Inc. and Comexposium USA. He graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a BA in Film & Television Production, specializing in editing, animation, and...

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