What the recent Facebook, Snapchat and Google announcements mean for brands
The promise of Augmented Reality (AR) to enhance reality for the purposes of entertainment, information sharing, and connecting people is now more real than ever before. Pokemon Go’s runaway success brought AR to the masses even though it was rudimentary and barely “augmented” our reality. Face-based applications like filters, swappers and enhancers from apps like Snapchat and Meitu have created repeat users by forming an emotional connection (‘cause who doesn’t find swapping face with a baby adorable). But the appeal of AR to brands has still been limited – until now. With the camera pointed the other way, AR holds a world of potential.
With the recent announcements and launches from Facebook, Snapchat, Google and the much rumored Apple’s entry into AR, we are at the tipping point of AR morphing from a novelty act to an everyday, useful medium.
Camera as an increasingly important medium to consume content
The promise of AR will transform the camera from a tool to save memories to a tool to process and enhance reality. The experience will be contextual at an individual level – based on who I am, where I am, what my interests are, and the people important to me. This provides brands a powerful new dimension in storytelling. Imagine billboards that come alive for specific individuals, products that jump out of a shelf in a store and demo themselves, or your friends leaving you secret message about a product or a place of business.
Easily Available and Accessible to everyone
Current AR apps require downloading and installing them. Since most people don’t like to do that, and people in general use no more than 3 apps in any given day, specialized apps have had limited reach. With Facebook integrating AR into their apps, and Google (and potentially Apple) incorporating it into their OS, AR will be instantly available to almost everyone. So, very quickly, brands will have a new medium at their disposal with billions of users. This creates a sense of urgency for brands to evolve their storytelling beyond video and display.
Core Computer Vision Technology built into platforms
Until now, companies innovating in AR applications had to build everything from the ground up, i.e., processing camera feed at real time, understanding the visual inputs in context of the location and the surrounding environment, and delivering useful experiences back to the user based on her interests. And doing all of the above equally well on all devices/OSes. Now, with Google/Apple and Facebook building many of these capabilities into the OS/native app levels and opening up their platforms to developers, the pace of innovation at the application level will accelerate exponentially. This means many more interesting experiences for users and many more interesting avenues for brands to engage with their users.
Applications/Content modules drive engagement
Getting there still requires technology providers to have specialized capabilities. For example, GameCommerce specializes in AR for brands. Our computer vision technology can recognize brand imagery within 10 milliseconds – much faster than the proverbial blink of an eye. Our content authoring platform helps marketers create AR and gamified brand content that can engage users in fun, interactive and useful ways. You can build it once and use it on any OS, device or app, as paid media or as part of your owned or earned media.
Brands can continue to focus on storytelling
At their core, brand managers want to tell the story of their brands. And tell it in such a way that it is memorable, repeatable and resonates positively with their customers. When a new medium like AR emerges, it is exciting for brand managers as it enables storytelling in ways that were inconceivable before. Every CMO that I’ve spoken with has a C-level mandate to work on AR/VR. GameCommerce technology, along with the advances in marketplaces, enables brands to create practical AR content that delivers on business goals.
If you’re a brand or an agency that’d like to engage your customers through AR or Gamification, you can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.