Deciding how much to charge for an AR project can often seem like a daunting and sometimes frustrating task. From the hundreds of AR projects we’ve worked on over the years, we’ve come to find that it’s very rare that any two requests are the same, which is why it’s vitally important to ask the right questions and gather as much information as possible in the early stages of any AR project.
To give you, the ZapWorks community, a solid foundation with which to price your own AR projects, we’re sharing the 13 factors we use at Zappar when costing up any AR project. These points should serve as a rough guide for your own pricing strategy.
We’ve segmented this post into the factors you should consider when starting out as an AR creator, as well as pricing factors for bigger, more involved AR projects.
Let’s get stuck in shall we?
Pricing factors for early-stage AR creators
Read this section if you’re in the early stages of your freelance AR career or have just started offering AR as part of your wider services at your agency.
1. What is your level of expertise?
A significant determinant of your costs will be based on your level of expertise and how established you are. When you’re just starting out, it’s difficult to compete on expertise with some of the bigger agencies or most established freelancers, but you can compete on price whilst you are still establishing yourself.
Building a portfolio of work which you can share with potential clients is invaluable. To help you out, ZapWorks regularly run user competitions, which offer a platform for users to create projects that showcase your skills.
As you become more established as an AR creator, you’ll be able to factor this into your services and demand more for your time.
2. What are your overhead costs?
If you’re pursuing AR as your primary source of income then your rate needs to reflect your costs plus take-home cash. Remember to include all your overhead costs when pricing your AR projects like rent, bills, equipment, other suppliers, external costs, software and of course your ZapWorks seat. You need to be able to cover these before you start making any money as a freelancer.
Sadly, this sometimes gets forgotten. Be honest with yourself and figure out how much you realistically need to earn in order to keep yourself fed and watered.
3. What type of creative solution are you delivering?
When setting a price for your next AR project, think about the type of experience you’re delivering for the client. Ultimately this will be the deciding factor in the amount of work and resource that goes into the project.
A way you could approach this is by segmenting your pricing structure into different tiers, based on the complexity of the experience offered. For example, does the project involve a video-based ZapWorks Designer activation or, is it towards the other end of the spectrum involving a fully fledged 3D or mini-game experience?
4. What assets exist or need to be created to deliver the concept?
Another element that can be time intensive and add to the overall cost of the project is the preparation of assets. If you’re billing hourly then this can easily ramp up the cost of any AR experience. Be sure to raise this with the client before setting sail on your AR journey together. Getting a clear understanding of what assets are available and in what format from your client is critical and can make a big difference.
However, if you’ve already scoped the project out and are charging a fixed fee for the project, make sure you segment out the amount of time allocated to asset preparation.
5. Who is the client?
This is another really important factor and one you’ll learn to benchmark more effectively as time goes on. Do your research - what sort of client are they? What is the project worth to them?
So for instance, with bigger clients, there are likely to be more internal stakeholders involved in the decision-making process (and let’s not forget about third-party agencies and consultants involved in this process). Having more stakeholders inevitably affects both the production timeline and ultimately, the cost, so be sure to scope out management and production oversight, approval times, and change requests in advance.
Top tip: Remember that the client is coming to you for your value and expertise, so price the experience accordingly to show that your work is valuable. (A $100 AR experience never said “value” to anyone.)
6. How long have you got to deliver the project?
This is something to think about when you get round to determine your pricing strategy. If it’s a tight timeframe that’s likely to impact other work, will require more staff, or will require overtime from existing staff, then you should think about charging a premium for the project.
If you’re a freelancer, then you could look to charge based on the delivery time of a certain project and build-in different pricing tiers based on varying time increments.
7. Get the paperwork started ASAP and have the payment terms discussion upfront
Make sure to agree on a payment plan from the start. Agencies can sometimes be a bit hesitant in communicating budgets but good clients expect it and understand you get what you pay for. Don’t be afraid to ask for the project’s budget up front. It can take time to get set up in their system and they may have fairly lengthy payment terms, so make sure to get the paperwork underway from the very beginning of your project.
Pricing factors for agencies and more experienced AR creators
Hey, if you’ve skipped to this section you’re probably an agency or a freelancer with a couple of years experience. Here are the more salient factors you should consider when costing up your next AR project...
8. How many different target images are there for the campaign?
When working on bigger AR campaigns for clients, more often than not you’ll be juggling multiple target images across print, product, and packaging. These AR touch points serve as the glue that brings the whole campaign together.
Again, with more target images the more creative time, production oversight and testing is required. If you’re a small team managing multiple projects and covering a couple of different job roles then this is the one to be mindful of, especially when managing change requests from the client.
Keep in mind that each change request will need to be updated on every target image individually, adding to the overall timeline and cost of the project.
If you’re billing hourly, then ensure you’re tracking these hours in a spreadsheet or in your preferred project management tool. Likewise, if you’re working to a fixed cost ensure the number of target images is confirmed as well as the number of change requests to the targets before commencing work.
9. How are you activating the experience?
Another one to think about when you’re creating professional level AR experiences is how the AR experience will be activated. If it's using the free Zappar app, there are no additional costs.
However, if the client wants to embed AR into their own app, or activate the experience from a custom branded code, then you’ll need to speak to the team about our custom solutions.
Embedding Zappar technology in a client’s’ app is a tried and tested way to leverage their existing user base, and to drive app downloads from physical products and marketing.
10. Is there any localization support required?
This comes into play when delivering experiences across multiple territories and markets. We often get asked, “How much should I add to the cost of an experience when creating different experiences in different countries or territories?”
This is certainly a tricky one.
Effectively, you’re creating separate versions of the project here, sometimes completely from scratch.
It can involve encompassing new assets, translated copy, and additional QA, which will ultimately multiply your overall hours spent on the project by the number of territories you’re publishing to.
Top tip: Think of creative ways you can get around language barriers with your client. Can you create icons instead of having to translate the campaign copy?
11. Are you working alongside multiple agencies/stakeholders?
Collaborating on projects with lots of third parties comes with complexities.
For projects involving multiple stakeholders, consultants and agencies, consider adding extra management time for handling the different stakeholders.
Top tip: Be very clear at the start of the process how many change requests are factored into your costs with the other stakeholders. Also be sure to ask that all feedback is consolidated rather than being fed through bit by bit. Otherwise, you'll find your management and production costs expanding, making it increasingly difficult to meet your deadlines, as you battle change-requests rather than working on finishing the project.
12. Are there any ongoing requirements or commitments?
Factoring in continuing support, data collection reporting, and maintenance on a project are important to consider from the very start. Remember a project is complete at the end of the campaign rather than the beginning so thinking about the ongoing costs from the outset is critical.
Ongoing requirements are also a great way to build long-lasting relationships with your customers and to keep you top of mind for their next AR project.
As an aside, where you’ll be collecting data (your servers versus theirs) is something to consider in reference to hosting costs and also the impending GDPR update. If your client is inside the EU, (and even if they’re not) you should read-up on GDPR and double-check you are data compliant.
13. What’s the scale of usage?
A super important point to factor in, and one that your pricing strategy could hinge off is the scale of usage (e.g. zapcodes across millions of bottles or crisp packs versus a single use event poster), which could sit outside the fair use policy for the technology on ZapWorks.
If you’re delivering on a larger scale project then be sure to speak to one of our AR experts who can help you build a custom pricing plan.
What you decide to incorporate into your pricing model will ultimately be down to your industry and the types of projects and clients you’re working with. Keeping these factors in mind when costing up your next AR project will help you to bill customers more accurately and ensure your AR projects are profitable.
You may also want to consider whether there’s a bigger strategic imperative at play, being more amenable on cost in the first instance to establish a longer-term commercial relationship. There’s always an element of negotiation beyond the hard facts of the rate card, individual day rates, overhead recovery and expected business margin.
Finally, once you’ve established a cost be sure to put that against a very clear scope of work and deliverables. That way, both you and your client can be on the same page on exactly what is being delivered, allowing you to have open and honest conversations about elements out of scope that would require further budget without it being awkward. Establishing a scope of work template with deliverables, timings and a payment plan is critical.