As augmented reality continues to infiltrate the mainstream, brands are going all-in, experimenting with the technology through mobile apps and AR glasses in an effort to engage consumers and business partners alike. But like most technology, leveraging AR comes with its fair share of hurdles, especially when it comes to implementing it at events. To get the scoop on how to make the most of the technology, we asked brands with expertise in the space for some pointers. Here, their top tips for implementing an effective AR strategy.
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Understand the technology.
It may sound like a no-brainer, but implementing augmented reality requires an understanding of exactly how the technology works and where it can be applied in order to be successful.
“Understanding what AR is, is probably the greatest hurdle for many people,” says Gina Lehe, senior director-communications and brand management at College Football Playoff. “Going back to Pokémon [Go], it’s so hard to keep up with technology advancements. Whether it’s social, VR, 360, AR—it seems like every year there’s a new hot platform that’s out there and you really have to take time and digest it, investigate it and educate yourself on it.”
Find the right technology partner.
Brands have expertise in plenty of spheres—their key markets, their products, their customer bases—but developing ways to use cutting-edge technology isn’t usually one of them. That’s what makes working with a technology partner so valuable.
“You have to find a partner that’s going to help navigate [the tech] on your behalf because that’s another one of the hurdles,” says Lehe. “We relied heavily on Mandt [Media] to carry that load… They know what the trends are. They know the proper channels to go down. So I look to them to say, ‘Tell me where this is going. Tell me how this is applicable to what we need to do for our business. Or, how can our fans use these tools in a way that’s going to feel organic but exciting.’ Their professional advice is just as important as the strategy itself.”
Don’t use technology for technology’s sake.
Creating an AR experience just for the sake of being on-trend, like most technology, won’t get you far. Consumers can see right through gimmicks these days, and if there’s no real strategy behind your use of the tech, it’s not going to resonate.
“When the [Apple] ARKit came out, it was quickly followed by a wave of gimmicky apps, such as a virtual measuring tape and the like,” says Arjan Ackerman, senior digital manager at Rémy Martin. “The challenge for us there is how do we enter this space, which was getting very crowded with gimmicks? We wanted to deliver something really [high] quality that stands up to the expectations that people have of a premium brand, and that stands up to the history of delivering quality.”
Leverage events to launch AR apps.
Unlike virtual reality, augmented reality tends to be enjoyed socially rather than solo, making events the perfect launch pad for new AR-based mobile apps. It’s the approach Rémy Martin took for the reveal of its ARt by Rémy Martin app, which allows users to view the world through the lens of artist and designer Matt W. Moore.
“The app is there for people to be able to play within their world individually, but it also really encourages people to share what they’ve created,” says Ackerman. “What we’re finding in events is it really brings out this sense of friendship, of sharing, of celebration… Launching it at an event really allows us to improve the content that is being generated in a way that sometimes with the serendipity of the weather, of the particular moment, of the unique makeup of the crowd that you have, you really get results that you wouldn’t otherwise expect.”
Learning how to successfully engage customers or partners using AR won’t happen overnight. To that end, starting simple is the best way to both ease into the technology and retain participants’ attention. Sprint leveraged the strategy at Mobile World Congress to demonstrate how 5G technology will be used in the future.
“We kept it rather simple so that a person could experience the AR environment relatively quickly to get the point across, as opposed to having a very complicated and drawn-out experience which could take several minutes,” says John Heiman, director-experiential marketing at Sprint. “So keeping it simple was good advice for our first implementation… And we can build on that over time as use cases evolve. Starting small and simple allows us to build on it.”
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