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Augmented reality today – Powerful tool or misconception

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Quite possibly one of the most exciting aspects of 2015 is that it’s Back to the Future Part II year. What seemed so far-fetched 30 years ago is . . . well, still mostly far-fetched, although we do have i-Pads, wearable technology, remote-controlled drones, and ’80s puffy vests that have come back in style. But nothing seems futuristic more than the progression of augmented reality (AR). So what is augmented reality and why should content creators have their finger on its pulse?

Augmented reality (AR), if simply put ,is augmenting a real world experience marrying the physical with the digital world. And globally it is increasingly becoming the “real world visual content channel”.

In India we have seen AR in different forms and shapes but ultimately it hasn’t set the stage on fire because the meaning and relevance of AR has gotten lost in translation. AR cannot evolve if its sold as a tech magic wand. It needs to be fed with simple but effective ideas which will enable it to create compelling and immersive engagement.

AR can be a very powerful tool but the real deal is how do we integrate it in consumer purchase funnel backed by a simple yet relevant idea.

Beyond using AR to build interactive content, the goal should be to use it as a content marketing channel. There is nothing more compelling and powerful when your product becomes your most potent media/content channel.
AR can be both , your physical as well as your visual browser, allowing you to connect real world with the digital world. The sweet-spot is finding that elusive powerful idea that will not only make youraudience wake up but also drive meaningful engagement .

AR has the potential to be the next mass media in Indiawith burgeoning penetration of smartphones ,increasing data bandwidth and mobile first digital ecosystem. But there is a dearth of imaginative content creators!

Brands will only see value in AR when smart ideas can create magic backed by great analytics. It needs to be channelized into a behavioral platform much like when you tweet and search .

At Blippar we have had success globally because our relentless focus is to drive a behavior of “Blipping” versus restrict ourselves to just a AR platform. The fundamental pillar of creating a behavior is great content ideas . We turned a Coke can into a Juke box , created a always on demand recipe for Heinz , turned 2 billion pepsi cans into gaming cans, to name a few path-breaking campaigns which have created global benchmarks. In India we are already creating waves with India’s first Interactive children’s comic book with Tinkle.

We have raised the bar globally by being the first platform to be on wearables (glass) and expanding AR to visual search (making real world objects like banana interactive)

Nothing can be more valuable for a marketer when a consumer shares a piece of content from their interactive product with their digital world. The share is more valuable then a mere like in the social world.

Brands will not buy technology but powerful enablers, which drives compelling measurable engagement. The curve for AR remains the same, keep it simple, don’t do the obvious ( no body will attach huge value to using AR APP to scan and watch a video)

And possibly the big challenge of downloads remains the final frontier for any mobile led platform but I firmly believe strong content hooks circumvent the download conundrum.

In India we have a long way to go – but the opportunity is huge .

Hence If you don’t have the technical chops, why not partner with a brilliant technological mind? The idea is that we, as content creators, have the chance to bring wonder and amazement back to content delivery through AR. This represents the first time since the dawn of moving pictures that we’ve been able to do so. Back to the Future Part II may not have been so far off after all. With companies like Blippar leading the way, suddenly Marty McFly’s future seems so antiquated.

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Neeta Nair

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