Asking the right questions at the start of your next AR project will save you time, money and a lot of headaches further down the road, as well as form stronger, more transparent client relationships.
To get your next AR project off on solid footing, here are the six key questions we use at Zappar HQ to form a super tight brief and a better understanding of our clients' and partners' campaign objectives.
We’ve been devising and executing AR strategies on behalf of our clients for seven years now and we’re keen to share all this experience with our community of ZapWorks creators.
1. What are the key objectives?
Let’s start with an obvious question we get all our business development team and producers to ask and define clearly from the outset; ‘What are the specific objectives or key performance indicators (KPIs) by which this activity will be judged?’
These can range from driving traffic to a website, social shares, purchase, data collection, positive brand consideration, engagement or app downloads. At Zappar we always say that AR should never be used to tick an innovation or mobile strategy box but should be used to create genuine value and achieve specific marketing or commercial objectives.
Make sure the client has a clear view of what success looks like but ensure this is obtainable. Managing expectation here is key, if you don’t think the client's objective is achievable we always advise being upfront and suggesting an alternative KPI to base the campaign’s success on.
2. What’s the budget?
Getting an initial idea of budget from the start is paramount to the planning and success of any AR project and will prevent you spinning wheels on a great idea that ultimately they can’t afford.
Note that it’s certainly not the case that AR has to be expensive to be effective. But the level of investment will impact what sort of content you can create. A clear gauge of investment will enable you to properly scope out the project and manage expectations.
It’s important to note that AR projects come in many shapes and sizes, so getting a well-defined budget will allow you to tailor an AR campaign appropriately. Or vice a versa, you can always recommend a level of investment if your client has a clear understanding of what is they want.
Transparency is paramount here, so ensure you have this confirmed in some form before scoping out the project.
The following questions should also form part of your estimate.
3. What is the physical target(s)?
Possibly the most important part of any AR project is what we describe as ‘the physical target image’ - i.e what or where will the content be activated from (a poster, POS, packaging, press ad etc.), and how many different target images are needed for the campaign.
The more target images required will mean more creative time, production oversight and testing, ultimately increasing the overall cost of the project.
Alongside this, you should also ensure your client knows the limitations and benefits of different physical targets. This is crucially important early on to facilitate the smooth running of the project given that physical print deadlines normally come early on in a project delivery.
With information in-hand, your creative team can get a headstart in scoping out the project and begin to think about how they’re going to build and design the experience relative to the target image.
Another key question to ask the client is whether they want the content to be ‘tracked’ (i.e to appear ‘stuck’ to the page) or ‘triggered’ (i.e. activated and screen relative)? Confirming they understand the difference between the two and how it will affect the UI/UX is also important at this stage.
The context of the experience will also be a key determinant of whether an experience is tracked or triggered. The simple rule is to put yourself in the users’ shoes and consider whether that moment in time is appropriate for a tracked versus a triggered experience. (Note that an experience can be both tracked and triggered as well if required). You can read more about tracked and triggered images in our free GlossARy.
Lastly, confirm with your client whether their in-house design team will create the target images or if they want you to create these as part of the project. Usually, it’s easier for your creative team to design these alongside the experience to ensure continuity and consistency within the user flow. Be sure also to include the all-important clear Call to Action.
4. What assets exist or need to be made to deliver the concept?
Understanding what assets the client has to hand is vital to planning the project in a timely fashion. It’s common for projects to be slowed down because of a lack of clarity around what assets were available or needed to be created for the experience.
The reality is that there will always be some conversion or asset prep work to be done even if the files are delivered by the client. So make sure you’re 100% confident you know which assets the client can provide and what formats they’ll be able to supply these in.
These could be anything from 3D models, videos, reference images, fonts, URLs, buttons or call to actions. You’ll want to get these upfront at the start of the project so you know what you’re working with, or at the very least, a detailed description of these assets.
If the client doesn’t have any existing assets, you’ll want to add additional time for creating assets from scratch and necessary approvals.
More often than not, this is quite a time-consuming process so be sure to build this into the schedule to give your creative team plenty of time for amends.
5. What’s the context of the activation?
Another adage we always try to stand by is to start any AR project with the problem first. What problem is your client looking to solve with AR, or what job are they hiring AR for, where is the content being activated and who is activating it?
The occasion in which the AR experience is being consumed is vital to the overall scope and success of the project. This could be anything from in-store to at an event, in an outside space or on-the-go for product packaging.
Critical here is to consider the surrounding environment the user will be in when scanning a target image and how it will be affected by light, sound, time of day, weather, network coverage, occlusion etc.
Start with the user experience first and then work back to the content. Ultimately you want to ensure as much control of the context as possible.
6. What’s the launch schedule?
Lastly, and the one overarching question that can make or break the project is, ‘when does the content need to go live?’ Understanding how long do you have to produce the experience and whether the client has any ongoing requirements or commitments is a key.
Again, being candid here can ensure a healthy ongoing relationship and making sure plenty of time is set aside for possible roadblocks and the all-important QA and testing at the end of the process.
When diving deeper into the launch schedule you should also ask your client for the print dates for the target materials as well as the ability to approve materials before they go to print and see final samples wherever possible for testing.
You should also be aware of any key internal review dates to hit for the client to feedback on the content. Earmarking these key milestones will enable your production and creative teams to break the project down into manageable chunks and track progress in bitesize stages.
Ultimately, what these key milestones are will be down to your client and the scope of the project. Defining these early on can help with the overall flow.
By asking these simple questions at the start of your next AR project should give you a much better understanding of what the client is looking for and also save yourself some time and stress in the process.
Read more about the Three C’s for a successful AR campaign.
We’d also advise capturing the agreed scope of work and user experience in a document that can be approved by all parties before commencing work.
This will also help avoid any wrong assumptions being made about deliverables and allow everyone to have a more candid conversation about additional items that become apparent but sit outside the agreed scope and budget (like additional target images, new language or localisation requirements etc.).
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Managing Director, Zappar