Why AR? It’s a question we continually ask ourselves and naturally get asked by our partners and the community: it’s the most important question of all really.
For centuries, any and all businesses have had a reliance on underlying processes - central infrastructure and legislation, partners and suppliers - and now more than ever, third-party software - to function optimally as well-oiled machines built for sustainable growth.
This is where AR comes in. AR has tended to fall under the banner of a third party software, but it's more pertinent to see it as a facilitating and enhancing technology - neither a strategy in its own right or a one-and-done software. It is an always-on piece of the underlying architecture that’s there to make businesses run more efficiently and cost-effectively in the delivery of its objectives. Executed properly and holistically, AR’s true potential transcends departments and sits at the heart of the business. Here's seven of the best ways your business can harness this technology to drive growth, increase sales and engage your customers.
The recent announcement of Zappar WebAR signals huge potential for brands and business to leverage AR - representing our commitment to empowering you to build content once and deploy it everywhere, including now to the mobile web.
What makes AR so powerful?
Well, this particular facilitating technology helps brands see the world - made up of all the places, objects products, packaging and media real estate - as a blank canvas. It then offers the paints and brushes for a business to tell its brand story, purpose and promise to surprise and delight, inform and instruct its end users in the right moment of assistance. This is delivered in a way that’s contextually relevant to them when seen through a device’s camera (and of course, those end users might be internal staff as well as end customers).
AR creates an overlay to the physical world which it quite literally augments, turning any passive touch-points into an interactive digital discovery channel that you own, enabling a direct dialogue with your end users. You’re no longer confined by the space and real estate that media agencies and social networks can sell you. The AR world is your oyster!
'The Three C's' are the key principles to creating a successful AR campaign. The technology may be evolving rapidly, but these tenets remain central to creating fantastic, engaging and accessible content for your users.
How your organization can leverage AR
That’s powerful stuff but what does it mean?!
In one sense, the minute a business has grasped the idea of AR and taken a decision corporately to hardwire it into their business, they have instantly and massively increased the potential intangible value of their assets. By embracing AR you’ve effectively made a decision to harness all your passive products, packaging and places in the market, into always-on digital channels you control as owned media.
Plus, you get to do it at no incremental media fee and start a conversation with your end customers at two crucial moments of assistance: in-store at the point of purchase; and at-home at point of consumption. These are two points in the consumer journey where brand owners are typically blind and data-poor - and yet these are moments where communicating your brand purpose, promise and point of difference is crucial. Well, now you can speak to your customers on the device that matters most to them in their lives and (with their permission) collect data about their usage to help increase the likelihood of a sale and encourage repurchase and loyalty.
“AR creates an overlay to the physical world which it quite literally augments, turning any passive touch-points into an interactive digital discovery channel that you own, enabling a direct dialogue with your end users. You’re no longer confined by the space and real estate that media agencies and social networks can sell you. The AR world is your oyster!”
- Caspar Thykier, Co-Founder and CEO
1: Making your existing media spend work harder: the data behind effective storytelling with AR
For your existing media spend across print, POS, OOH and programmatic advertising, the addition of AR adds another simple way to layer immersive, interactive and responsive mechanics into your existing media inventory and messaging. The neuroscience supports the fact that AR almost doubles (1.9 times) the levels of visual attention and all important memory encoding by 75% versus other forms of media. AR is one of the most effective and efficient methods of active learning.
So activating AR as part of an always-on, omnichannel approach to media buying and deployment will only help drive effectiveness and efficiencies on your already large marketing spend at proportionately minimal additional cost, making it work harder for you at every turn. Indeed, the smart money is to divert a small proportion of the existing media spend to AR.
The 'Layered' report, created in collaboration with Mindshare UK and Neuro-Insight, provides fascinating data about the sheer effectiveness of AR when it comes to generating emotional attention and aiding memory retention.
2: Connected packaging: using AR to express your brand ideals, build valuable relationships and drive sales
At a time when consumers have more choice and are demanding to know more about the products they buy in terms of their provenance, ingredients and sustainability credentials, AR offers a new way to communicate these vital messages through spatial storytelling from-pack, where physical real estate is limited. For any purpose-driven brand owner, this is an absolute no-brainer and will undoubtedly be the norm over the next five years.
The advent of mobile WebAR means that the ease of use of AR and broad distribution of scanning technology is effectively ubiquitous and no longer requires an app download or the need to sit behind a social media walled garden. That’s game-changing for packaged goods brands. Connected product and packaging is perhaps singularly the biggest impact AR will have on most businesses - and we’re already seeing progressive companies like Nestle and Pez embrace this opportunity wholeheartedly.
Looking to the future, our continued collaboration with Evrything focuses on their clever notion of all products being ‘born digital’ and having their own Active Digital Identity (“ADI”) - using a code scheme affixed to a product to track it throughout its life in real-time. AR forms a powerful tool to explore how the scanning of a code can help activate and encourage usage of the ADI when it falls into consumers hands and I really look forward to sharing more information with you on this incredible work soon.
Connected packaging opens up an incredible opportunity to add real value to products and make packaging work harder. Shackleton Whisky is a prime example of an iconic brand leveraging AR to tell their brand story in an exciting way that begs to be interacted with.
3: Re-invigorating retail: AR to power an effective loyalty strategy
Within retail, AR is reshaping how businesses think about loyalty & reward programs and continue to help customers make the switch over to m-commerce. AR offers new ways to activate and redeem reward points and coupons across the marketing mix and also allows for greater accuracy in marketing attribution from engagement to transactional value at an individual customer level.
AR also creates a platform for retailers to work with other brand partners in new forms of promotional programs to drive customer engagement and purchase behavior. Our work with 7-Eleven in the US has shown just how effective this approach can be and it was great to see this work being honored with the 'Best Campaign' Auggie Award at AWE 2019.
Our Auggie Award winning 'Always On' partnership with 7-Eleven is representative of a major brand taking a progressive approach to AR - delivering calendar of interactive content that genuinely rewarded customer loyalty with high-quality exclusive experiences.
4: Transforming the way we learn: AR for L&D and internal comms
It’s important to talk about the power of AR for internal comms and learning, training & development - another significant outlay for many organizations. This covers not only on-boarding of new staff, but the communication of important rules and regulations for the staff handbook and dealing with an often disconnected workforce who may not all have access to a computer or terminal to access new company information.
Through our own studies and others available in the market, it’s been shown that AR can help reduce time to competency and completions in learning while increasing the level of accuracy over time. We’ve also seen how AR can engage a workforce in what might often seem like dull or difficult to grasp subject matter - whether that’s a new IT protocol, fire regulations...or even toilet etiquette! On the shop floor, whether you’re selling pizza or mobile phones AR, can also be a great way to update your sales team on new news from headquarters, while also registering which stores have viewed the information.
Our team will be at Realities 360 to talk about how you'll be able to make the most of AR for L&D, so be sure to say hello in beautiful San Jose! Customer Success Manager, Daniel Hartz, will be delivering a valuable workshop on creating successful experiences with ZapWorks, while SVP of Business Development, Jeff Ridgeway, will be diving deep into the future of AR and its implications for L&D.
AR breathes new life into learning - turning familiar training scenarios into engaging, active experiences that are more likely to be both enjoyed and retained by employees.
5: A new ally: AR, authentication and anti-counterfeit technology
AR also has an important role to play in bringing anti-counterfeit and authentication technology to the frontline of consumer marketing. The grey market is still a massive headache and source of great cost and lost revenue for many corporations. As we continue to put greater scanning capabilities into our devices and into the hands of our customers, we can begin to mobilize them (excuse the phone pun!) to help in the fight against organized crime and ensure customers are getting the product that they’re paying for.
This is the ‘wolf-in-sheep’s clothing’ approach to AR: the end-user is incentivized to scan the product or packaging in order to get more relevant information about the product or enter a competition or promotion. While they’re scanning and enjoying the AR experience, the software in the background checks the product’s authenticity and alerts both the consumer and the brand owner to any issues. We’re fortunate enough to work with DSS - world leaders in this space - in providing an SDK that can do exactly that.
“...the minute a business has grasped the idea of AR and taken a decision corporately to hardwire it into their business, they have instantly and massively increased the potential intangible value of their assets. By embracing AR you’ve effectively made a decision to harness all your passive products, packaging and places in the market, into always-on digital channels you control as owned media.”
- Caspar Thykier, Co-Founder and CEO
6: The star of the show: make events unforgettable with AR
Another large area of spend for most brands and businesses is around trade shows, conferences and events. Three perennial challenges persist for organizers, exhibitors and attendees alike that AR can help improve.
Firstly, the desire to get more people to download a companion app before the event to offer a better show experience for everyone and collect more valuable data; secondly a need to ensure that as an exhibitor you get as much footfall to your booth as possible while delivering relevant information to drive your ROI; and thirdly, from an attendee’s perspective, efficient ways to receive and retrieve information both during and after the show. There’s also an opportunity for organizers and app developers to create new sponsorship packages through the use of AR which is something we’re pioneering with our good friends at CoreApps. AR can help deliver against all these challenges and opportunities, providing value across the events ecosystem.
More generally as a B2B tool, AR is a practical, immersive way to show product demonstrations at low cost. AR can take away the need to transport expensive equipment to events or customers’ premises while still giving a full and functional demonstration of the product in situ at scale. We’ve done this to great effect with Accuray in the healthcare sector at conferences and with Nestle with their coffee and waters divisions to target SMEs. We’ve seen first-hand how AR for product visualization can decrease costs whilst increasing conversion to sale. Better still, it’s something that the sales force enjoy showing customers while reducing their set up time.
Our collaboration with Accuray demonstrated how AR can not only create a fun and informative experience for event attendees, but dramatically cut costs by avoiding the need to transport hefty machinery into an events space.
7: Fuelling passion: increase fan engagement by enhancing sport and entertainment brand partnerships with AR
Many brands spend large sums of money on partnership deals in the world of sports, music and entertainment around consumer passion points that have a good brand fit with their property, purpose and promise with their core audience to drive awareness and ultimately sales. These normally involve significant sums of money which the marketing team are then tasked with showing a return on investment on. AR is a great way to ensure that those rights and content opportunities can be leveraged and amplified across the marketing mix by tying exclusive content directly to brand real estate both pre and post-purchase. Similarly, where brands invest in CSR programs and charitable events AR can help tell these stories with greater depth.
AR has the power to create interactive experiences that fuel the passion of sports fans - bringing them closer than ever to their heroes and reward loyalty with exclusive and highly shareable content.
There are many more sector-specific applications for AR that we could dive into but the above hopefully shows that AR is so much more than the cherry on top of your latest marketing campaign and fun face filter or lens. Executed properly, it can have a transformative effect to drive both top-line revenue and bottom line profitability through efficiencies across the business both internally and externally.
After that, it’s a process of testing, learning and refining. The beauty of AR is that you get rich real-time data and can update content over the air (with ZapWorks at least) so the ability to constantly improve is there for you.
In summary, AR is a new canvas for your business in an increasingly camera-led mobile communication landscape where we live our lives through a lens. The opportunity is to ask yourself, ‘What should my brand and business say and do when seen through the camera?’ That has powerful and positive implications for your internal and external business plans to drive revenue and reduce cost.
At Zappar our role is to help businesses unlock the potential of AR across their organization and help democratize this facilitating technology and capture value through it. We look forward to realizing that potential with and for you.