The Inside Story x 3: augmented and virtual reality for marketing – things are getting really exciting now

It doesn’t matter if some people are still arguing about whether the hype is over or not. The fact is that extended reality (augmented reality, virtual reality, 360° film) has become indispensable in many areas. It has already solved many problems in marketing alone. You just need to take a close look at what the differences and therefore advantages of the individual presentation forms are to see this.

VR has already arrived in customer interaction

Sure, it will take some years before VR glasses will naturally be found on sofas like tablets. We’ll probably have to wait a little longer for wide-ranging campaigns that rely exclusively on VR. However, the possibility of being moved as a customer to completely different places or situations has created new forms of product presentation. Virtual reality is highly relevant for location-based experiences, when a brand brings the required hardware to the customer, such as at trade fair stands, in shops or in the classic representative situation at the customer’s home. In a car dealership, customers use a virtual test drive to effectively experience things they would rather not during a real test drive; for example, how safety features can save their lives in some situations. They can then order the feature as an extra for their new car.

A user only needs the smartphone to be able to experience augmented reality

On the other hand, augmented reality is already widely available. Augmented reality, which complements the real world with digital content, is open to everyone. All users need is their smartphone.

AR is developing rapidly. The only hurdle is getting people to download an app first, but this is also fading gradually. Web-based AR has been possible since autumn 2018. Even complex applications can usually be experienced via websites that are much easier to distribute via social media.

Facebook naturally wants to push its own platform and together with Spark AR it is offering the option to launch AR applications quickly and easily via its own brand channel on Facebook or Instagram. The beginning of user-generated AR.

Just like VR, AR also has a much cooler and more expensive version. Instead of waving a mobile phone around, you can also attach a Microsoft HoloLens or the new Magic Leap. The latter can already be purchased on the US market, albeit for around $2,000. My colleague Mathias Becker recently enthusiastically tested it out and described it as the “new extended reality”.

AR is currently solving many problems in e-commerce by connecting physical and digital experiences. With the Ikea and apps, your grandma can test out her furniture in the living room herself and even measure whether the shelf will fit into that gap. The product is ordered online without having to worry about needing to return everything. This is more convenient for the customer and reduces the expensive return rate for the retailer. The online health and beauty stores Youcam Makeup and Sephora also operate using the same principle. Customers can try out various different make-up looks on themselves one after another using AR filters – and order them online.

  • At the Serviceplan Innovation Day, viewers were able to evaluate Florian Haller’s speech in an entertaining way through the AR app…

  • …this guest seemed particularly critical.

Extended Realities are more honest

Extended realities (XR) are often a helpful service as they enable B2B customers to easily better visualise a new aircraft cabin or allow or B2C customers to experience a hotel room. It is more honest. From a certain angle, almost any hotel room can look at least tolerable. But in 360° there’s no hiding how things really look, and when it comes to holidays, most people prefer to play it safe.

AR caught on a long time ago, especially through popular apps like PokemonGo and camera filters with funny faces. So the time when I could still annoy my mother-in-law using the IKEA Place App is gone. Back then I could trick her into believing that I’d replaced all the furniture in her holiday home but now she’s running AR chickens through her garden on Instagram as a matter of course.

AR offers agencies great opportunities for creativity

This is a great time for agency colleagues. Most of the first and obvious XR ideas have been implemented but things are getting really exciting now that AR filters and 360° films are the norm for people. How can XR retell the campaign idea virtually? Maybe an XR is even the core of the campaign. It’s now time to deal with the topic in a deeper and more sustainable way and use it to stand out creatively and competently from other agencies.

The topic isn’t an easy one for marketing managers. Many sense that extended realities are relevant for individual departments and could even save a lot of money.

But the questions is: How do you get started? The classic model where client briefs agency, which then presents the solution two weeks later, often does not work here. Internal structures and processes must be taken into account.

The best solutions can only be achieved by the client and the agency working closely together

The solution is to bring everyone together at one table: marketing managers, sales people, experts in XR (or other issues), creatives, strategists, programmers, lots of gadgets to try out, plus the desire to really make something better. A board presentation or even a prototype can be created using Design Thinking methodology in one to three days.

We set up the Plan.Net Innovation Studio for precisely these kinds of cases. It is a kind of external innovation lab that marketing departments can use without having to set up one themselves.

Plan.Net Innovation Studio: First try everything out, then develop ideas together.

In conclusion, the extended realities success story is continuing at a rapid pace. Technologically, creatively and in terms of popularity.

Here’s a final tip for your grandma, colleagues and customers: a PokemonGo successor is coming this year. This time it centres around the world of Harry Potter. Rumour has it that AR and voice control will be brought into the mix. This could mean that soon people on the streets may no longer be throwing virtual balls, but will instead start shouting out magic spells. It’s not about whether you like this kind of game yourself, but rather about understanding what millions of people are excited about and what will soon become the new normal for millions of potential customers. So, why not join in?

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