Thursday I attended the Atlanta Mobile Marketing Organization’s joint holiday meet-up with Atlanta Augmented Reality at Moxie Interactive.

The Daqri-sponsored event was a celebration of all things augmented reality (AR). There was also the promise of taking a photo with Ashton Kutcher.

augmented reality
@AnnieArete poses with @aplusk

Several members of Moxie’s Future Experiences team attended, but most of the attendees are actively involved in augmented or virtual reality and were excited to talk about the future of the AR niche – what’s on the horizon, what they are more excited about, etc. For AR enthusiasts, most were amped up about Oculus Rift of course, and how AR could integrate with virtual reality in the future.

This is all very new to me. I’m not a gamer. We have a stand up Popeye arcade game in our den at home. It’s the only “video game” experience you can have in our house unless you BYOD. So maybe I’m not on the virtual reality bandwagon yet. But as a marketer, AR makes a lot of sense to me. There are endless opportunities to get users invested in your products and brands through the mobile augmented reality experience.

Josh Gertz from Daqri shared several really cool video case studies, the coolest one, I thought being this one from the Seoul Korea Aquarium. Their marketing team wanted to help tourists find the aquarium from the train station, so they came up with a cute, innovative way to capture tourists’ attention and ensure they don’t get lost on their way to the aquarium.

So where will AR go in 2015?

While mobile marketers have been early champions for several years, virtual reality hadn’t yet proven itself as far as mainstream user adoption goes prior to 2014. With so many apps downloaded every second in the U.S., the number of us who adopted augmented realities within user experiences also increased exponentially this year. The numbers will continue to rise. Semico Research predicts revenue directly related to AR will hit $600 billion by 2016! The number of AR apps are set to increase as well – more than 1.4 billion downloads by 2015. Juniper Research estimates that more than 2.5 billion apps featuring AR will be downloaded by 2017.

One of my favorite new apps is called Zombies, Run! The app integrates missions and sounds into your daily run. It’s very motivating to pick up the pace when you think you are being chased by zombies!

Computer programs have allowed us to try on new hairstyles for years – imagine now trying on clothes or test driving a car or touring a hotel before you book via iPad – augmented reality is already allowing brands to interact with potential customers at previously untouched points across the purchase consideration cycle. Well known consumer brands like Starbucks, American Apparel, Ray Ban, Coca-Cola, Ikea, VW and Domino’s are already using AR to deepen customer engagement with their brands.

AR moved quickly from web to mobile in 2012. Wearables and other connected devices will further the integration of AR with consumer experiences in 2015. Eyewear and head-mounted displays are the more futuristic of these, but with most everyone owning a smartphone or tablet, AR has crept into the mainstream mobile experience – even without most users thinking about it. Heads up displays in cars are a very practical use of AR and are becoming more prevalent. Drivers won’t even think about the technology behind the experience being served up – they’ll just be glad to not have to look down to read their instruments.

augmented reality

Aside from deepening the customer experience, as brands adopt AR, they have the chance to analyze more consumer data within the contexts of how the user engages with the app and the type of permissions they give when downloading the app.

According to Ray Pun, Strategic Marketing Director For Mobile Solutions at Adobe, here are some data points to look at when considering the ROI for augmented reality:

  • Behavior: How long did the user engage with the AR capabilities? Did they dwell longer in certain parts of the experience? Did they get stuck in part of the experience that was not intuitive?
  • Commerce: Did the user buy my product after using the AR feature? Did they buy via the app, or did they go to my physical store?
  • Location: Where did they launch the AR app? At home or nearby a point of interest (stadium, retail store, venue)?
  • Social sharing: Did the user share any content with their social networks while using the AR app? What did they say? Which networks did they use?
  • Device platforms: Are they using a smartphone or a tablet? Which operating system do they use? What version?

Marketers are getting savvier about the power of mobile to influence purchase decisions, especially at point of sale. The ability of AR to let us experience reality in a new way is opening up numerous additional ways for brands to reach its customers. It will be interesting to see how AR technology evolves over the next few years and how quickly users adopt these new experiences.

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