Blog Review : Brand-e “Big brands embrace AR, but at what cost?”

Have a look at Brand-e.biz article : Big brands embrace AR, but at what cost?

Asks Scott Lester* 3D video of a laptop emerging from a piece of paper or a mobile phone enabling you to ‘fly’ as a character from Iron Man 2 – augmented reality is a technology that is starting to change the way marketers think. It’s opening new doors, pushing boundaries where imagination is now the only limitation – but there are dangers too. AR does not come cheap, therefore achieving ROI is extremely difficult and as yet there has been limited success in measuring the affects of an AR campaign on a brand.
The potential however is huge, particularly in the mobile space where Juniper Research estimates that by 2012 there will be 197 million AR-capable smartphones on the global market. AR is a cool technology which engages consumers through a rich experience combining video, 3D and sound. It can in theory push branding to new heights. As with traditional, passive advertising, it’s more difficult to measure, but as Christine Bardwell, analyst at Ovum rightly points out, ROI need not be simply about sales.
“The luxury goods sector has much more of a brand focus and therefore tends to be more likely to assess sales ROI alongside the wider reaching brand benefits,” she says. This is true. AR has fantastic potential for raising brand visibility. It’s still new and intriguing enough to get a lot of interest and any brand associated with that interest will benefit. But how do you measure it?
Hype surrounding AR is at such a height that many vendors will no doubt walk into AR campaigns with little or no thought of clear objectives and reporting metrics. It’s perhaps the dull side of AR but it is essential, as it will create the business case for the technology, which is currently lacking.
Large brands who can usually afford to make expensive mistakes – such as Coca Cola and McDonald’s – have already dabbled and this alone attracts others. It has already triggered a me-too approach from rivals and now AR is moving down the food chain. However, as with any advertising and marketing initiative there has to be justification, a measurable return on investment in the form of increased sales or improved brand awareness.
Acer and Dabs.com recently embarked on an AR campaign using ‘Total Immersion’ technology. According to TI director Myles Peyton, 70% of people who went to the Dabs.com site – prompted by an ad in T3 magazine – chose to live the AR experience. Of that group, 13% then purchased the project, compared to an industry standard website conversion of around 0.5%.

* Scott Lester CEO of online retail content firm Flixmedia

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