An intro to Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality or ‘AR’, has in recent years morphed from a technology solely known and used by ‘geeks’ to a phenomenon coined by popular culture. Most notably, games such as Pokémon Go and Snapchat’s versatile filters have propelled the technology to its near ‘mainstream’ status. While AR may easily be confounded with VR by tech- ‘averse’ individuals, the distinction is clear: Virtual Reality completely replaces an individual’s real environment, whereas Artificial Reality simply enhances their environment. Examples of AR include Google Translate’s ability to translate text picked up by a smartphone’s camera in real time, or Ray Ban scanning a user’s face through facial recognition software and consequently superimposing sunglasses onto their face.

How AR is intertwined with search marketing

Given the increasing popularity of location-based promotions through geo-targeting, geofencing and beacons, AR has the potential to completely revamp search marketing. For example, if one were to take out their smartphone in a busy shopping street and scan the area with the camera, leveraging AR could help display store promotions and ratings amongst other features. Taking this into consideration, it remains imperative for businesses to optimize their “Google My Business Listings” as we can expect Google to be a key player driving the AR push.

Moreover, having strong and reliable citations (number of mentions any information related to one’s business identity receives across the web) will become increasingly important as AR adoption rates surge. A strong SEO rating can be reinforced by incorporating AR into business reviews, giving users real-time decision-power by encouraging them to leave positive/negative reviews at points of sale.

The impact on event planners

AR has the potential to completely shift the landscape for event planners by bringing concepts such as augmented product experiences and spaces into play. The latter can be realized by providing attendees/delegates with an AR headset and glasses, paired with a dedicated event planning software. This would let them engage with company events on a deeper level due to data overlays e.g. businesses can provide attendees with turn-by-turn directions or let them identify other event-goers through facial recognition software.

Companies like Volvo are cooperating with Microsoft on ‘HoloLens’, a hologram technology which lets consumers interact with and showcases their cars’ security features. The implementation of such technologies by Volvo not only leads to significant reductions in operating expenses, but also reduces the amount of real estate required to showcase their products at trade shows.

AR in use at events

AR’s versatility and accessibility to everyday consumers has led to considerable implementation levels at various events, worldwide. For example, at CES 2017, attendants could scan QR codes at multiple locations for hidden figures to show up.

VNTANA is an AR company with a patented hologram screen that strives to generate a more gripping and hands-on experience for event-goers. At Computex 2016, Intel implemented this technology – as a result, Gregory Bryant (GM of commercial clients) appeared onstage as a hologram and addressed questions in real-time.

AR & gamification as complements to boost brand equity

Gamification relies on engaging consumers in real-life contexts through game-design elements – AR further enhances this by providing a “playing board for gamification strategies”. Combining AR with gamification features in apps allows marketers to create immersive experiences that leverage full customer engagement, in turn leading to considerable branding opportunities.

First, marketers must ensure to capitalize on their brand’s meaning: An AR campaign/app should complement the business proposition, providing an extension to one’s current product/service line – all while ensuring consistency with cultural values. Building on this, companies develop a brand community by synthesizing ‘brand-triggered’ content in a public setting (e.g. Pepsi Monster Mirror) with ‘self-triggered’ content through their app. As a result, consumer engagement is increased (especially if a competitive aspect is present in the gamification features) leading to opportunities for increasing brand loyalty and customer lifetime value, while minimizing churn rate.

What does the future hold for AR?

AR truly has the power to merge our physical/real and digital worlds by overlaying our day-to-day lives with a digital experience. While AR breakthroughs like Pokémon Go lost momentum rapidly, it nonetheless led to Nintendo shares shooting up 200% and gave the brand a much needed revival.

Plenty of other applications of AR are set to revolutionize the events industry, including but not limited to the use of location-based hologram characters and facial recognition scans. The real value of AR lies in making work-related tasks which were previously boring more fun, and thereby increasing productivity. Most notably, we’ll see a shift from capitalizing on AR as a marketing tool to capturing the real value in communicating with consumers by creating feasible solutions in augmented reality environments.

As time passes, get ready to witness the adoption of digital/active content at trade show booths, virtual hyperlinked banners for event sponsor messages and attendee tracking paired with gamification features as key factors fuelling the AR implementation at events.