This week, Zappar CEO and Co-Founder, Caspar Thykier, is joined by David Jones, a pioneer in the XR investment space. David is the founder and CEO of the world's first brandtech group, You & Mr Jones, named as fast company's most innovative company in 2021 (and an investor in Zappar) as well as being the founder of One Young World, the preeminent global forum for young leaders. David has also been global CEO of Havas and a founding member of the Facebook client council amongst many other accolades and we were very excited to sit down and talk with him.
In this session, they cover:
1. Why You & Mr Jones was founded
2. AR vs VR and why AR is winning out
3. How big businesses are approaching AR
4. What to look out for in the future
You & Mr Jones
On launching the company David notes that they “very deliberately called it a brandtech group because we just believe that there were going to be numerous ways of connecting people and brands that had nothing to do with advertising.”
“What we were setting out to do was to help marketing directors solve what was already a big issue for them, which was the mobile phone had come along. It had disrupted all marketing by creating vast numbers of new channels, access to unprecedented levels of data and turned everyone on the planet into a content creator.
“So that was the context in which we were launching and we set up to help brands solve that. As well as looking at where this was all going next”
This was all going on back in 2015 when the way was not as clear as it is now and at the time there was beginning to be a lot of debate around AR vs VR...
AR vs VR, the rise of AR
David remembers that “back then everybody believed that VR was going to be the thing, the first AR investment we made was back in the summer of 2015 when Niantic spun out of Google. And I just remember John Hankie, the founder of Niantic, and also the founder of the company that became Google Earth. He just said to me: ‘Look, David, we think AR wins and that's because everyone has the device. And for VR, everyone has to go off and buy the device, but for AR they have the device’. And I just thought ‘Yeah, that sounds pretty smart.’”
He says that they were “really excited about the potential for the intersection between location commerce and augmented reality, the ability for augmented reality to give a digital enhancement to every single real-world experience.”
David believes that the increasingly rapid awareness and adoption of AR was sparked, in part, by Pokemon Go.
“When Pokemon Go launched a year after we'd invested in Niantic, it was the fastest technology in human history to get to 50 million users and was pretty soon at a billion.
So I think that was really the arrival of AR and the understanding of its potential.”
He also feels that the past year and COVID have had an impact, “last year, COVID and QR codes where, it just got everyone into a behavior where people are now used to holding a phone up to something and it triggering an experience. And I think that will be overall, a huge accelerant.”
How are brands thinking about AR?
On the adoption of AR by big businesses David remarked “I think that these things have everyone dismissing it, then there's a huge moment and then everyone dismisses it again. Then it really comes back and starts being something at real scale. And I think we're in that part of the trajectory.”
“And I think we're now heading into people really looking into, how do we leverage this and how do we use it? ”
David and his company believe that changes in our technological landscape, including the disappearance of third party cookies, are causing a need for a behaviour shift towards more seamless, less invasive advertising. And that AR is a perfect way to achieve that if done right.
“So I think that in the next two to three years, we're going to see some really interesting concrete examples, but particularly concrete examples that deliver ROI, you know, no one, wants to look at doing a gimmicky AR thing for their brand that everyone goes, ‘oh, isn't that clever’, but that actually doesn't deliver the bottom line.”
“Everyone's looking at what can I be doing and what should I be doing in technology that drives ROI and drives back to the bottom line? I think that's particularly true with the enormous acceleration that happened in the digital transformation of most companies last year.”
What does the future of XR look like?
When asked about the future of XR David shared his top three to watch “I think AR, AI and the potential for blockchain are probably the three that we are most excited about. Facial recognition is one that we're both excited and worried about.”
As well as his vision for perhaps the farther future:
“I think when we look at the future of AR, for me, what's really exciting is the concept that we no longer have mobile phones.”
“Whether it's five years from now, 10 years from now, and you're starting to see another series of moves around AR glasses, and I'm sure it's a bit like the Palm Pilots or the Newton, there'll be these attempts that never really go anywhere and then some suddenly one day someone will nail the iPhone and I'm actually convinced that what's going to happen with AR glasses.”
“And that we will look back and go, do you remember when we had to use one of our hands to carry this thing around and we had to tap on it? So, you know, not sure exactly when that is, but that's what gets me excited about the AR future is just a completely seamless ability to have that level of information and connectivity right in front of your eyes. “