Marketers cautiously experimenting with mobile AR
For most marketers, AR has been about experimentation and one-off projects rather than a strategic business tool. But a few innovators have harnessed mobile AR to reinvent their business, boost sales and deliver bottom line ROI results.
Most marketers have at least a passing familiarity with augmented reality (AR), an interactive experience where real-world objects are “enhanced” with digital overlays appearing on a mobile device or in specially equipped glasses. Silicon Valley based AR/VR/XR adviser Digi-Capital estimates that mobile AR could reach over two and a half billion installed base within 5 years. Together with smartglasses, this translates into $70 to $75 billion in revenue by 2023.
As a marketer, when should you consider testing the waters with mobile AR? There are several scenarios where it makes sense to consider the option. First, it’s an excellent channel to drive increased consumer engagement, according to Isabelle Hierholtz, user strategy director at Digi-Capital. She also said that marketers are in many cases seeing significantly higher sales after customers interact with mobile AR apps.
If you sell products or services, mobile AR offers another appealing channel to reach customers. A number of companies are using mobile AR as a way to facilitate a buyer’s journey. Examples include:
- Olay’s Skin Advisor app that allows users to “apply” virtual products to a self-portrait taken on a mobile phone or tablet.
- Penney and Bloomingdale’s use “virtual dressing rooms” that allow customers to see themselves in clothes without trying them on.
- IKEA and Wayfair offer apps that allow consumers to view their products in their home without visiting a store and before they buy anything.
Somewhat counter-intuitively, Hierholtz said that brick and mortar retailers are also benefiting from mobile AR. “Starbucks and Walmart have shown how in-store mobile AR can deliver higher sales,” she said. “In particular, Walmart is using mobile AR to shrink core user loops.”
Mobile AR also offers substantial new data insights to marketers that aren’t available via traditional marketing channels.
At our MarTech® Conference in San Jose in early April, Digi-Capital’s Hierholtz will be speaking about marketers who are successfully using mobile AR and how they are doing it, as well as the hard ROI numbers that justify the investment in the technology.
One of the key drivers of growth for mobile AR is the rollout of 5G networks worldwide. Many marketers believe the new level of wireless speed offered by 5G will erase the differences between online and offline.
“5G will take time to roll out, which means that at the high end it should encourage innovation to the benefit of consumers, said Hierholtz. “This will only help mobile AR to deliver value, particularly as it trickles down to the bulk of consumers.
If you’re interested in learning more from Hierholtz and other experts in the field, be sure to attend our MarTech conference in San Jose April 4-5, 2019.