Imagine a world where the movie Minority Report was your reality, where just as Tom Cruise did in the film, holographic screens pop-up and controlled by swift hand movements. Well that moment is not just something we see in movies, that is now our reality. The future is here and brands have the opportunity to harness customer insights, forging deeper engagements like never before.
Traditional advertising hasn’t seen much change over the past 100 years. Yes, online banner ads and pre-roll have created ways to measure engagement; markers can agree that the system is still flawed. In the past, you couldn’t measure advertisements, you weren’t able to get a definitive number on how many people saw that ad in a magazine.
Augmented Reality (AR) is computer generated display, sound, text and effects to enhance the user’s real-world experience by overlaying their physical environment – but it can be so much more. AR represents the three-dimensional growth of the internet into the real world, starting with mobile phones and eventually transitioning to wearables, like smart glasses.
When Apple’s Tim Cook said “I regard [augmented reality] as a big idea like the smartphone. The smartphone is for everyone, we don’t have to think the iPhone is about a certain demographic, or country or vertical market: it’s for everyone. I think AR is that big, it’s huge. I get excited because of the things that could be done that could improve a lot of lives,” he set the stage for the future of brand engagement.
Brands will now live in a 3D space. The camera on your smartphone, is more than just a selfie machine. Similar to scanning QR codes, you can point at a brand’s logo on anything – from a box of cereal to a car, and a computer-generated image or environment will appear through your phone or Smart glasses. Users will allow brands to access their data/phone #/information and in exchange, will receive exclusive content, additional information or even deals. This allows brands to have a stronger and deeper 1:1 relationship with customers, which is the ultimate goal for marketers as it can translate to sales, and ongoing engagements.
In the near future, the internet will exist in the real world. And we are already seeing the building blocks in motion.
Phase 1 – THE LOGO
Do you remember the first time you downloaded an app from the app store? How did you know to that? Apple likely told you – but now it is intuitive. Like the learned process of downloading an app from the Apple app store, consumers are slowly learning to use AR without realizing it. Snapchat users everyday are turning themselves into puppies, adding flower crowns and changing their face shape – this is all possible because of AR. When Pokemon Go hit the scene, and everyone was excited to catch Pikachu on their friend’s shoulder, in the office – that is AR and it generated billions for the game maker. To marketers, a logo in the AR world can translate into a discount on your morning coffee, exclusive content, etc. Recently Facebook added AR to their Messenger service for brands. Instead of just using Messenger to communicate with your friends, when users interact with a brand on Messenger it prompts you to open the camera, which will be pre-populated with filters and AR effects that are specific to your brand. This allows users to instant feedback about their purchases and provides brand messaging.
Brands like Google and Mozilla are activating with AR technology as well, and soon using AR will be as easy as opening your browser. Google Maps already has a mic for easy searching, but soon there will be a camera in your search bar, which will allow you to search and connect with the brand.
Phase 2- WEARABLES 2.0: Eyewear, Haptic Response clothing
AR is already evolving from a passive experience to a more immersive experience – in less than a decade consumers will be able to feel the internet. I am sure you are aware of smart glasses (i.e. Snap Spectacles or Google Glass), but what will truly change the way we experience the internet is haptic clothing – which allows users of the clothing a form of kinesthetic interaction between their bodies and their clothes. Imagine being able to shake the hand of someone across the globe and feel the power of their grip.
AR allows brands to get closer and closer, but at what point will it infringe on their rights? There will need to be a way to protect the digital rights, especially the more haptics become involved – but that could be an entirely different article in itself.
Phase 3 – CUSTOMIZABLE EXPERIENCES
Soon the internet will be clickable inside of your own living room, you will be living in your own real life Minority Report. You will be able to purchase things, experience them and communicate with it, similar to science fiction movies Blade Runner and Minority Report.
Through this close interaction, brands will truly understand their demographic, and will ultimately allow for extreme targeting as the technology gets faster. Brands will learn more about the customer at the same time as they are interacting in the 3D world, whether it be in their living room or through their phone. This in turn will make brands smarter leading to increase sales.
The future is already here, Minority Report won’t be just a futuristic scene in a movie – you will be living it. Brands like Snapchat, Nike and Google are already investing money into AR – allowing them to create more compelling content to keep you coming back. Brands will need to provide more compelling content to get consumers hooked, because eventually utilizing AR this will separate the successful vs the unsuccessful brands.