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Why the time is right for augmented reality (AR) in marketing

30-second summary:

  • As we age, AR offers a plethora of opportunities for marketers that go well beyond facial filters on social media.
  • The continued and widespread adoption of 5G networks will open the floodgates for the mass adoption of AR and finally allow the technology to reach its full potential.
  • In addition to 5G connectivity, a number of technological developments are coming together to drive AR into the mainstream. AR-enabled smartphones and wearable devices are opening up incredible opportunities for marketers.
  • From product launches to test drives, AR can help marketers build virtual experiences and engage audiences in new and innovative ways.

Marketers have been playing with Augmented Reality (AR) for years and using it for fun and simple gadgets that can be shared on social media to keep their audiences entertained.

But the technology that was once considered a novelty is now catching on fast and is expected to grow from over $ 13 billion this year to over $ 67 billion by 2024.

Gen Z is already using AR on a regular basis through filters and lenses on popular platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, and Tik Tok, while Google is integrating AR into mobile search, starting with its popular 3D animal feature.

As we age, AR offers a plethora of opportunities for marketers that go well beyond facial filters on social media.

AR technologies such as LiDAR and Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) open up opportunities for product visualization that consumers can try out before buying. They actively explore the features and functions of potential purchases and see how they fit into their immediate surroundings.

It enables marketers to present product information in an engaging way, for example to illustrate how and where an item is made or to highlight its sustainability features. It enables them to hold virtual live events to stage new products or services where a wide audience can interact with the brand and be part of a visceral, emotional experience.

Finally, AR can be fully integrated into advertising campaigns to create a deep connection with consumers and increase conversions by up to 40%.

AR becomes part of the “new normal” and will help marketers with their strategies for 2021. So what are the most important developments that now represent the right time for AR in marketing? Here are just a few of the events that help this disruptive technology take center stage.

Advanced 5G connectivity

Advances in bandwidth and telecommunications infrastructure can have a significant impact on the introduction and development of new technologies. This can be seen in the rise of streaming platforms and video chat services, as well as in support for developments in broadband, 3G and 4G.

The continued and widespread adoption of 5G networks will open the floodgates for the mass adoption of AR and finally allow the technology to reach its full potential. Research has shown that 5G will unlock AR applications that will generate cumulative revenues of more than $ 140 billion between 2021 and 2028

With 100 times the bandwidth of 4G, 5G enables extremely low latency and the ultimate in device connectivity. This in turn enables developers and content providers to create an immersive, experimental 3D computing environment in which users can interact with the people, objects, and information around them.

5G not only enables faster surfing on Facebook, but also changes the way consumers interact with their surroundings.

Ongoing technical development

In addition to 5G connectivity, a number of technological developments are coming together to drive AR into the mainstream. Over the past two years, Google and Apple have invested heavily in integrating AR hardware and software into their mobile tech stacks.

With the introduction of ARCore and ARKit, over four billion smartphones worldwide are already AR-compatible. This opens up incredible opportunities for marketers, especially when combined with the exceptional cameras and batteries of the latest devices.

By 2022, mobile applications with embedded AR are expected to be 4,670,800 million worldwide and downloads of standalone AR applications are estimated to be 1,389,000 million.

AR enabled smartphones are expected to be some kind of wearable device to open up the next generation of intuitive and immersive computing. Glasses are the most likely competitor. Google, Facebook, Snap, and many independent companies plan to launch AR glasses in the near future.

In the next ten years these devices could become as ubiquitous as the smartphone. Around 22.8 million units with smart AR glasses are expected to be shipped by 2022, compared to 150,000 in 2016.

Wearables take smartphone usability to the next level, with intuitive 3D interfaces and controls controlled by gestures and eye movements. They enable consumers to access relevant content in real time across all industries and provide endless marketing use cases.

To drive mass adoption, consideration must be given to how these devices control, process, and deliver information without overwhelming consumers. Glasses and other AR wearables also require an extensible content creation platform that unifies any separately evolving standards and enables marketers to publish campaigns anywhere, on any device.

The COVID-19 context

In addition to technological developments, the adoption of new technologies is often accelerated by contextual circumstances and the COVID-19 situation is certainly driving the growth of AR due to changing consumer needs and behaviors.

As consumers have had to avoid crowded locations such as city centers, shopping malls and physical events, the absorption and demand for virtual, contactless experiences has increased. From product launches to test drives, AR can help marketers build those virtual experiences and engage audiences in new and innovative ways.

AR is entering a new phase in its journey. A combination of cutting edge technological advances and contextual circumstances means that it is evolving from a novel technology to the next generation computing platform.

AR will transform the way consumers interact with their surroundings, and it is time marketers incorporate the immersive and engaging experiences they enable into their 2021 strategies.

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