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Is Augmented Reality Advertising’s Next Big Thing?

By Kyle Stowe on Mon, Jul 22, 2013 @ 12:05 PM |


Newspapers and magazines were among the first advertising platforms available for product and service promotion. As time marched on, radio, television and the Internet each played their part in re-inventing the advertising wheel and revolutionizing the way we consume media. Here in 2013, social media has become the latest playground for marketers trying to promote ideas and brands. As for the future? This video may hold the answer:

Yes folks, you just witnessed augmented reality. A technology that has the potential to not only change the advertising landscape, but also the way we one day perceive reality on a daily basis. Explained in the simplest of terms, the product is made possible by a computer system that combines real-life vision with a virtual scene that includes additional graphics, video, sound and information. Early products that work with augmented reality are already in existence (Google Glass, various smartphone apps), but there are many kinks to be worked out before the pioneering concept becomes a household buzzword. In the mean time, current technology is allowing marketers to see how augmented reality can transform campaigns in the coming years with advertisements like this:

The question now: Will augmented reality really change the face of advertising? The answer remains to be seen. To view an augmented reality advertisement today, smartphone and tablet users must download a special app and then hold their device in front of a newspaper, magazine or billboard ad before any additional content can be seen. In many cases, those necessary steps are just too much to ask of the everyday consumer. Easy viewing will become less of a chore as smartphone and tablet processors become more powerful, application quality continues to improve, and novelties like Google Glass make their appearance on store shelves, but it will ultimately be up to the consumer to decide whether or not augmented reality advertising leads to an efficient return on investment.

The potential for augmented reality as an advertising platform is vast, to say the least. Augmented reality arrives with the opportunity for a more hyper-targeted, interactive advertising experience than ever before, and the ability to bring previously limited two dimensional ads to life. It can make a shoe stand on top of a magazine page and car burst through a billboard. It can even make animals appear in the middle of the mall. Because of its seemingly infinite potential for creativity, investments are continuing to be made in augmented reality by researchers hoping to capitalize on a new and booming ad platform. According to a MediaPost report, roughly $670 million will be dumped into the creation of augmented reality apps this year, rising to $2.5 billion by 2018.

Despite some early limitations, several advertisers today are already experimenting with augmented reality campaigns in an effort to keep the coolness factor up with consumers. Toyota, Starbucks, Kellogg’s and General Mills are just a few of several large businesses that have included augmented reality features in recently prepared ad campaigns, according to cnet.com. While augmented reality is currently as new and exciting as ever, questions remain as to whether or not the coolness of augmented reality will be long-lasting. Could consumers quickly become bored with the concept? Experts also wonder if augmented reality advertising will really lead to more business; there’s the chance that augmented reality ads will achieve lots of interaction, but won’t lead to actual sales.

As evidenced, augmented reality has a lot to prove before it can be considered as advertising’s next big thing. While the concept does show an abundance of promise, it’s important to remember that it’s still in the developmental stages. Just as creative thinking is central to constructing an augmented reality advertisement, it’s also necessary in finding ways to extend the reach of your advertising campaign. Check out our eBook titled The Smart Marketer’s Guide to Local Digital Advertising to see how we can help you identify a creative approach to finding new consumers.

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Kyle Stowe is a marketing intern with Mediaspace Solutions. He will begin his senior year at the University of Minnesota this fall majoring in journalism with an expected graduation date of May, 2014. His previous internships include stints with Clear Channel Media and Entertainment and the Walt Disney Company. You can connect with Kyle on TwitterLinkedIn, and Google+.

digital advertising print advertising augmented reality