Augmented reality (AR) is a prime example of a new channel that has almost overnight become a must-have for any communications mix. Here are 7 things that will save you countless hours of research and frustrated clients. P.S. Number 7 is the secret ingredient for a successful pitch.
80% of advertisers now see AR as an integral part of their work, for good reason. It’s a communications channel that has been scientifically proven, to keep consumers attention up to 85 times (!) longer than any other type of digital channel, AND will make consumers remember the brand or product 70% better. So now you know, AR should definitely be part of your creative toolbox.
Here’s what you should know before you get started:
1. Make it clear WHY consumers should be interested upfront:
For the consumer, an AR experience will always be a time investment, but a high return in enjoyment. Why do we say this? Because consumers need to take some steps like downloading an App. Luckily, the investment has recently become significantly lower, with the introduction of web-based AR. This means the consumer won’t have to first install an App to get into the AR experience, but instead can simply click a link or scan a QR code to get started. Then, the consumer still needs to wait for the experience to load, allow access to the camera, find somewhere in the real world to place the AR experience (or point their camera to the target image) before being delighted by the AR experience.
For these reasons, the time investment needs to be justified before embarking on the journey, to motivate the user to really get into it. Examples of justifying this investment upfront include:
- Get access to exclusive content: This could be an exclusive trailer, behind-the-scenes footage, etc.
- Win or get a discount: as mentioned earlier, AR will make consumers engage with your brand for way longer than any other medium. You can reward this with a discount code or the chance to win something.
- It’s fun: AR has been proven to engage much more of the brain than other mediums. This results in endorphins for the consumer. Demonstrate this by marketing your AR experience with videos of others who are having fun using the AR experience.
- Gamified: Since AR is interactive by nature, a great incentive to get consumers into your AR experience is if they can compete with others in their city or area. Check out Hololink Quests to get started launching your first gamified AR campaign.
2. Context is king:
The customer journey starts before consumers enter your AR experience. It starts with how consumers hear about the experience and the benefits of trying it out.
The customer journey will look slightly different depending on whether your campaign starts with something physical that then gets an AR layer added or starts in a digital environment with the consumer opening a link and then adding the AR experience to their environment, independently of the physical context of the consumer.
As a rule of thumb, context-dependent experiences are harder to get mass-distributed but will have a closer link to the brand, while context-independent experiences are easier to get mass distributed but might have a weaker link to the brand. Here we have some examples:
Some AR experiences are based on the consumer pointing their smartphone camera to a physical thing. This could be a magazine, newspaper, product packaging, poster, flyer, etc. Essentially anything that has a printed surface. We call this thing an ‘anchor’,
Then, the ‘anchor image’ is the specific part of it where we want to place the AR experience on top. The great thing about anchor images is that they can both advertise the AR experience and be the anchor where the experience is placed upon. The anchor image can also contain a QR code to let the consumers access the experience faster, by removing the need to type in the link into their browser.
- Context independent:
Other AR experiences can be accessed simply by opening a web link and selecting where they want the AR content to pop up. This is sometimes known as markerless or SLAM-based experiences, because the consumer can easily place the AR content on any horizontal surface, such as a floor or a table. Within this category, we could also put face filters, which use the consumer’s face as an anchor to place the AR content on top of.
3. Design the AR experience
You should think about how the experience will develop after the consumer decides that he or she actually cares about it. For this, you need to create a storyboard, in which you’ll decide the different scenes that the consumers will go through, defining which kind of interactions you want them to have. For example, you may want for the consumer to first see a 3D model of your product, and then click on one of the product’s parts to play a short video about the special features of this part. Then, the consumer can go back and click on other parts of the product to get more information.
4. Call to action:
Having a call to action is quite relevant for the consumer to stay motivated to keep immersed. You already convinced the consumer to invest some of their precious time, now let’s make the most out of it. Show that it’s valuable for them to click on the next step. The utility is a keystone, telling the users in a nice way that their actions will give them something useful back is very important. For example “Click here for the virtual try-on, you don’t need to go to the store to try the new sunglasses”. Also, research has shown that consumers need to feel in control and in enjoyment when interacting with the AR content for it to change their attitudes and behavior towards the products. In other words, if the goal is to make them buy the product, the AR experience needs to be in their control and also make them have a good time.
5. Know the technicalities:
As mentioned before, time is a high investment for the consumer. Before, AR was only available on Apps, which resulted in a problem for most consumers who didn’t have time or space for another App. Then, web-based AR (WebAR) appeared as a game-changer, allowing users to click on a link and enjoy the experience directly on the web browser. This is a huge advantage in terms of customer journey and App development costs.
Secondly, you need to consider what your AR experience will be augmenting. AR is about placing a digital layer on the real world and for this to happen, the software needs to have an idea about the world. This is done with a technology known as computer vision. The way it works is that an algorithm processes each frame from a video stream in real-time. The algorithm looks after hundreds of things we call “features”, meaning things that are visually recognizable, fx a corner on a small icon, eyes on a face, or other things that are visually different from other things in the image. This is why it’s hard to track a page of text because the letters exist in several places on the page. The same is true for context-independent experiences, where a white wall is hard to track because the different white features look alike.
Last, the core of the AR experience is content, like 3D animations, videos, or images that seamlessly blend with the real world and form a digital layer on top. Since AR is often accessed via the browser, keeping an eye on load times is crucial. Some 3D animations can be several megabytes each, so making sure that these are compressed is key to a fast-loading experience. The key here is compressing the textures, which are just normal image files, and if possible also limiting the number of polygons.
6. The cost?:
Developing a campaign with AR might sound complicated but it has never been so easy.
You don’t need to have technical skills or hire a specialized developer. Essentially, a good AR campaign requires an AR creation platform, cool content, a great idea, and good planning.
Normally, hiring developers to create an AR experience costs 5.000$-10.000$ for just a simple demo app. By using a no-code drag & drop platform, you can create a demo for free.
In terms of content, you can use your existing tools like Adobe or Canva for 2D content creation. For 3D content, you can use the modeling software called Blender for free, but the learning curve is steep. You can also find people who specialize in creating 3D content on platforms such as Fiverr or work with one-stop shops such as Novaby. As a rule of thumb, 3D content that looks like real life or real humans is expensive. The more cartoonish or low poly, the cheaper. So pick an art style that matches your budget.
Lastly, what’s the price of a good idea? Well if you’ve read this far, you probably already have an idea. Now you just need to slap a price on it and pitch it to your client. Remember that AR is one of the hottest communication channels currently and AR campaigns have won countless awards for brands like Burger King, 7-Eleven, and Adidas. But make sure to read the last point to discover how to really make your pitch stand out!
7. The secret to any successful AR campaign — interactivity:
Interactivity is the golden ticket to a successful campaign. By making the campaign interactive, you engage in a conversation with the consumer, rather than just shouting random tag lines at them. AR experiences can double the levels of engagement compared to non-AR ones and can lead to attention levels +45% higher than for online browsing. Why? because when consumers are only consuming, rather than interacting with information, their engagement is very low level. This leads them to easily get distracted. But when they can interact, they need all their senses focused on the enjoyable experience. It’s the enjoyment and utility which will make you win.
That said, AR content should always be interactive, because if it’s just for the consumer to ‘see’, it loses all the magic.
But there’s more to be gained from adding interactivity to AR campaigns. Non-interactive AR campaigns are like movies. Consumers watch it once, go through the story and rarely return. Interactive AR campaigns are like great computer games, consumers spend hours finding all the different ways to move through the story and often come back to discover new paths throughout the story. By adding choices to the experience, you spark curiosity from the consumer to come back and try to make other choices.
Additionally, you can create even more intrigue by adding some kind of conflict or goal to the experience. A conflict could be that a character has lost something precious that he needs your help to get back, by answering a series of questions. A goal could be some hidden content, for example, a discount voucher that the consumer will be rewarded with by helping the character.
So there it is. By having gone through these 7 things, you’re now a lot closer to pitching your first AR campaign!
Here’s a quick recap:
1. Create intrigue upfront — tell the consumer why they should open your AR experience.
2. Take advantage of context — whether it’s a context-dependent experience or not.
3. Design the AR experience — a good way to start is by making all the scenes in a storyboard.
4. Create a call to action — let the consumers know what you want them to do.
5. Know the technicalities — and remember there’s a lot fewer to be aware of when using a no-code drag & drop platform.
6. The main cost is 3D content creation and developing hours— cartoonish art styles are cheaper and super realistic are more expensive.
7. The secret ingredient — interactivity, use it to your advantage to maximize the results of the AR campaign.
Now go pitch some AR campaigns!
At Hololink we empower you to create interactive AR experiences with no need to code and no need to develop apps.
Follow our blog to learn more about what AR can do for you.
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