Augmented reality and its little sibling virtual reality will be the definite hot trend in 2017.
But wait, didn’t we just say it was video?
We did. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, recent advances around video made augmented and virtual reality possible.
But let us explain what these technologies are about. (And what they’re not.)
What’s Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) Anyway?
Neither AR or VR are new. In fact, they’ve been a staple of science-fiction literature since the early 80s. And just like Nike’s self-lacing shoes or the hoverboard becoming actual things (just one year off Back to The Future’s prediction no less) now we have the technology to make those visions real. (The Cubs also won the World Series, which makes it three out of three for the movie-BTTF2.)
Augmented reality means using digital technology to enhance the real world with additional layers. From layers of information to interactivity added to passive experiences.
Virtual reality is putting you in a different world. Whether that’s somewhere you can’t go like the depths of the ocean or something that doesn’t exist at all like fantasy worlds.
For marketers, both options mean new ways to integrate content more naturally into a customer journey.
Using AR and VR for Marketing
As always, we examine technologies in this series in relation to the three core pillars of marketing concepts:
- customer journey mapping and hyper-personalization
- content marketing natively
While both AR and VR are new in the sense of adoption in both the consumer and the marketing space, they’ll be the big break of 2017.
Why? Because they’re built around a whole new concept of interacting with customers that create unique experiences.
AR and VR in customer journey mapping and hyper-personalization
Even social media, young as it is, has its own rules and traditions by now. Newer video platforms, while pushing the envelope still settle in into their comfort zones. It’s a natural process as users start using them.
The good thing about AR and VR is that they have no comfort zones. #AR #VR #Trends2017 Click To Tweet They’re free for experimentation.
One thing is certain: they’re here, and they’re staying.
With Pokemon GO, augmented reality officially became mainstream. Google Cardboard gave customers affordable technology to experience virtual reality.
Smart marketers spent 2016 observing customers interact with these new technologies. The new video platforms introduced influence driven by bottom-up content creation. Similarly, AR and VR are very much shaped by how customers use them.
Seeing this adoption gives tremendous insight for customer journey mapping. And building AR and VR around smart mobile devices presents an opportunity to go hyper-personal in crafting experiences.
Speaking of crafting hyper-personalized experiences:
Content marketing for AR and VR natively
We’ve talked a lot about the importance of creating native content for every platform you intend to use. Augmented reality (and virtual reality especially) not only benefits from it but requires native content.
Augmented reality content is layered onto the real world. Which means that if it’s obtrusive, like a pop-up ad on a website, users are immediately going to be yanked out of the immersion and disconnect from the brand. It has to be native and useful.
Creating a hastily augmented reality application just to have another advertising channel is like obtrusive pop-ups on a website. We sincerely hope we don’t need to explain why that’s bad.
Use location-aware technology. Reach users through the GPS on the phone, physical web content, or something else. Give useful information, and you’ll be remembered for it.
Virtual reality doesn’t have the same problem; it has a whole different one. Creating content in a three-dimensional space isn’t easy. Not because it’s expensive but because we have centuries-old mindsets used to two-dimensional content. Add interactivity to the mix, where customers are not just observers but actors, and we’re off to the races.
What helps is going back to the beginning. What story do you want to tell? What emotion are you trying to evoke? How does that translate into the new toolset you have available?Whether it’s AR or VR, never let the tools lead instead of the content. #AR #VR #Trends2017 Click To Tweet
A cool feature performs well for a short time, but real human experience stays around forever.
Engagement in AR and VR
Augmented reality to an extent and virtual reality as a whole is built around engagement. The whole point of them is to bring interactivity to a passive environment.
Engagement is the cornerstone of both AR and VR. #AR #VR #Trends2017 Click To Tweet And marketers need to pay attention: while they’re evaluating engagement, they also need to adjust their customer journey maps.
Remember when we talked about big data getting bigger? This is one aspect of that.
These technologies are designed to facilitate and record engagement. They’re an endless resource to learn more about what makes people tick. It also gives creative new ways for people to interact with brands and each other. You may not even need to come up with engagement ideas — your customer will tell you what they want.
Should you go all in on AR and VR in 2017?
We often get these questions from clients. We understand the desire to get directions in a fast-changing world. But there’s a problem.
The answer is yes and no. Partially because these technologies are new, but mostly because it’s not the right question.
What we tell our clients – and what is rewarded by the market – is asking the right questions.
You shouldn’t ever “go all in” on a trend just for the sake of it. Does it make sense within your customer journey map? Can you integrate the toolset into your storytelling? Are you able to keep up with the engagement it brings?
We believe augmented reality is going to be the “boom” of 2017. Virtual reality is still a bit further off to become really big, but the law of accelerating results suggests we don’t have as much time as we like to think.
Winning isn’t about using AR or VR — it isn’t even about using technology. It’s about using technology in service of your audience. But as far as technologies go, AR and VR are huge ones.
Both are fundamentally challenging the core understanding of content and interaction. As long as you understand that and willing to be the change you’re good. If not, stick with technology and storytelling you know.
Until you learn AR and VR, because soon enough neither will be optional for your business.
Click on image below to get your technology-driven marketing Trends Report for 2017