Welcome to the Dove Direct Print and Marketing Blog. Today's post, "Technologies that Boost Marketing Using Print," features augmented reality (AR) advancements that have become intertwined in the print marketing universe. AR technologies are helping to drive promotions for the USPS and other users of direct mail marketing.
Our Quote of the Day: "The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency." - Bill Gates
Ever since print became a digital operation, the doors have swung wide open for the integration of all things digital into the print press infrastructure. In 2020, marketers will note that not only is print evolving, but you can now enhance print with technological features that heretofore have not been associated with the world of print marketing.
These technologies include Enhanced Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Mixed Reality, Near Field Communication, Video in Print featuring Shoppable Video, Integration with Digital Assistants, and Addressable TV technology applications that can enrich direct mail campaigns. For brevity's sake, in this post, we will focus on various applications using Augmented Reality.
Most folks believe that in order to experience Augmented Reality (AR) technology, one needs to have access to Virtual Reality (VR) head gear. Virtual reality substitutes what people see and experience, while augmented reality actually appends that experience. VR headset devices such as HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Google Cardboard cover and replace a user's visual field in its entirety. In contrast, AR projects front-facing images assigned to a fixed area.
These days, AR is no longer limited to VR headset integration. In fact, AR has a multitude of usages, from apps and in-store displays to TV shows and magazine ads. As popular as the multimedia messaging app, Snapchat may be, the reality is that most people are unaware that they are experiencing a form of AR. The Snapchat app is using 'filters' that reside within the AR footprint, and that deliver the digital design overlays onto the user's device, including real-world environments.
Another example of AR is the gaming app Pokemon Go. Pokemon Go represents the first time that an AR game has gone mainstream. Pokemon Go integrates location tracking and mapping technology to create an AR where players catch and train Pokemon characters. The gaming experience overlays Pokemon characters into the user's real environment and prompts the user to locate, throw Poke balls, and capture animated characters on their smartphones. The goal is to capture as many different Pokemon characters and eggs as possible.
A more widely used application of AR can be seen by most people who watch the Weather Channel or local weather reports. The digital overlays depicting extreme weather events, such as snow, rainfall, tornados, and hurricanes, feature a form of AR.
Augmented Reality Applications
AR is rapidly becoming a go-to marketing tool and may deserve a closer look to determine if AR is a good fit for your brand and print collateral. As it is with all new cutting edge technology, AR requires a learning curve; however, as AR becomes more ubiquitous in everyday applications, the learning curve will become less of a barrier to entry.
Deciding which AR platform to use for marketing is the initial starting step. Apple, Google, Microsoft, and several smaller AR vendors offer an array of programs. Keep in mind that the selection of an AR provider should be measured against seamless AR experiences, as customers are now programmed to accept personalized, seamless experiences.
Therefore, once you have your AR platform ready for testing, it is essential that you understand the exact steps a user will be required to take to engage with the AR content successfully. We also recommend that the testing phase include multiple devices to ensure that all form factors provide the same or comparable experience. You can get a better idea by downloading one of the apps, i.e., its Sunday AR app from Google Play or Apple.
Initially, the focal point should be how to use AR most effectively. For example, if your business model includes product samples, tours, demonstrations, try-on, or product testing, AR can open a new door that invites customers and prospects to engage and experience offerings before making a purchase. One of the more popular usages of AR involves providing product knowledge via real-time engagements.
For example, you can use AR to create compelling, relevant experiences that lift the value proposition, and that helps to speed up the buying process. Additional applications include the ability to add other elements that provide fun, whimsy, and social connections that will further enhance the user experience. Think of AR and Direct Mail like hot dogs and ketchup. They work well together!
As with any new technology, you must test the creative design and execution. If you are new to AR, test the app and, by all means, engage a technical expert and creative team. Before you launch your campaign, be sure that the team has a clear understanding of what the brand wants to achieve in terms of the consumer experience, interaction, and call-to-action.
For example, apparel retailers are implementing AR that allows consumers to scan a print ad or direct mail piece, and virtually try on inventory, test colors, and mix and match. Once they arrive at a purchasing decision, they can purchase directly via the app. Seamless right?
Nowadays, there is a host of assorted products that feature AR, including cosmetics, shoes, accessories, furniture, and a host of other products. Further, the AR experience allows for a simulated in-store experience that can take place anywhere, such as the office, when traveling, or even from home.
In the age of DIY, anything can be learned on the Internet or from video instructions. However, users should become familiar with AR by experimenting with various mediums and on different devices. Testing and experimenting will aid in your ability to determine and create the best AR experience for the brand.
Lastly, make sure that you partner with an AR provider that can create a prototype of the AR experience that you envision. It may take longer to produce; however, it can help ensure that your foray into AR is a positive one for the consumer as well as for your brand.
Technologies such as AR and shop-able video are now becoming a mainstay for brands that want to create, better seamless, personalized experiences. As 2020 unfolds, there will be many opportunities to catch the next wave of technology to boost your bottom line, stoke the interest of prospects, and engage customers. We hope this post sparks your interest and curiosity as to how you can use technologies to drive sales and profits. Thanks for reading" Technologies that Boost Marketing Using Print!"
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