The internet is having a moment. Forcing most of the developed world inside and online this year has officially pushed us into the next digital evolution. Among other technologies, augmented reality (AR) is on the rise. Digital marketers need to be aware of AR’s vast capabilities in order to reach today’s media-bombarded customers in new and exciting ways.
Augmented reality makes perfect sense in scenarios when consumers want to try goods on themselves: makeup, clothing, sunglasses, etc. This is especially handy because you no longer need to wait for a consumer to come into your brick-and-mortar store for these kinds of interactions. Many industries are starting to realise — possibly in part because of a push from the requirements of social distancing — that there’s a lot more that can be offered online.
eCommerce websites used to be treated like two-dimensional interactive flyers that had users scroll a page to see prices and photos of products. Many sites still operate like this, but the technology is now available to offer much more interactive components to a website than was possible via a dial-up connection in the early 2000s.
Digital reality works
Because of game engines (now sometimes called “creation engines”), making interactive models and three-dimensional environments isn’t something reserved for giant Hollywood budgets or intense video games that require PCs with huge graphics capabilities. In fact, any business can hire an agency or have its own 3D content creator and make 3D models for anything it sells.
Not only can you now give consumers at home a totally 360-degree, fully realistic (and often customizable) product they’re craving, but you can use the same model in all your advertising. You can even create entire digital stores, trade events, and immersive games for your consumers to enjoy.
Augmented reality — along with its sisters, virtual reality (VR) and extended reality (XR) — and interactive 3D (collectively called “digital reality”) are the keys to changing marketing for the better. Instead of throwing unsolicited ads in an unwilling customer’s face, marketers can build something that people actually want to interact with. Consumers will come to your site, your landing page, and your app because they want to interact with the cool thing you’ve built.
My company recently worked with Volkswagen on publishing an interactive, 3D automotive show that their fans could “walk through,” get information on new models, and customize the paint and rims on cars. Volkswagen put out the link to their show in social posts, and that’s all it took to get their huge fanbase and potential customers interested and involved.
These types of dynamic content create a totally different sentiment with your audience; now your site becomes a place for them to enjoy. They spend time configuring a perfect RV or boat and they want to share it with their friends, for example. They become your brand promoters, and they build a more solid connection with a more personalized product. That’s the big shift happening in digital marketing.
Digital leap forward
If you’re looking for advice on how to effectively include new media in your marketing strategies, consider these tips:
Look to the early adopters of tech: Often, the business world follows what we do in our leisure time. We were all chatting on MSN Messenger or Facebook Messenger with our friends before Slack came along and made online chat a part of every office. Now consider how people spend their downtime: streaming Netflix, gaming online, even playing mobile games that make time disappear. How can you implement something like this into how you engage with your market? Don’t show them a static website; invite them to interact and participate in your digital marketing.
You don’t have to hire the talent; partner with them: Many of the big, comprehensive marketing agencies have 3D content creators in-house. Just because you’re not a world-leading agency doesn’t mean you can’t use their tactics. Partner up with one of the amazing content agencies out there or find a freelancer. If you know that you want to put your 3D creations on the web but haven’t yet found the team to build it, reach out for help. You’ll see that in working together, your designs, products, 3D environments, and virtual experiences will come to life.
The limit does not exist: Once your 3D assets are made, you will realize more uses for the assets. Don’t limit yourself. Take a luxury goods producer like a watchmaker as an example. If you’ve had a photorealistic digital replica made of your watches, complete with interchangeable parts and colours for your e-commerce site, you can take that same digital asset and use it for commercials, social media, virtual events, or even in product redesigns.
Lastly, don’t limit your reach. The bounds of what you can do over an internet connection are nowhere near where they used to be. Through streaming platforms and the massive computational load that the cloud can handle, you can stream huge, interactive files to anyone, anywhere. Reach markets anywhere in the world and welcome new customers into an experience they’ll keep wanting to come back to.
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