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What’s Exciting in Mobile Marketing? – Augmented Reality

December 31, 2009 1 comment

In this final installment of a multi-part post, we wrap-up a look at three technologies in particular that will have a potentially huge impact on mobile marketing, whether used independently, or in various combinations: mobile barcodes & tagging, location based advertising (LBA), and augmented reality (AR).  This third and final post will focus on augmented reality (AR). 

Augmented Reality (AR)

How does it work?

If you’ve ever seen football games on TV where scores, statistics, first down lines, and yards-to-go indicators are superimposed over the live action, you’ve already experienced a form of augmented reality.  However, the much more interactive world of mobile and the Web allow augmented reality to be taken to new levels.    

In the mobile world, the cameras in our smart phones allow us to view and take photos of our surrounding indoor or outdoor environments (people, objects, signs, buildings, street corners, etc). Augmented reality technology allows for additional imagery, graphics, symbols, and data to be superimposed over this view to “augment” what you see.  Examples of this augmentation includes maps & directions, descriptions, statistics, and more.

The mobile augmented reality content is currently delivered through a variety of different methods, including individual smart phone applications, tools, and mobile browser plug-ins. 

What capabilities does it provide to marketers?

The scope of capabilities and possible applications for mobile augmented reality is truly immense.  In his PersonalizeMedia blog, author Gary Hayes does the best job I’ve seen so far of identifying the types of, and potential business models for, augmented reality:

Nearly all of the models outlined above hold a strong potential for marketers, particularly in a mobile environment.    

Great, but does it have legs?

Yes, definitely!  I believe mobile in particular is an ideally suited platform for the use of augmented reality,  as it comes the closest to approximating how we naturally encounter people, places, and things in the real world.     

The potential applications for mobile augmented reality are further enhanced by how it can be used in varying combinations with other versatile mobile technologies such as GPS, mobile barcoding & tagging, and location based advertising (LBA).

In terms of revenue potential, a recent study by marketing intelligence company ABI Research states that “new handheld platforms will transform the Augmented Reality ecosystem”, forecasting revenue associated with Augmented Reality will grow from around $6 million in 2008 to more than $350 million in 2014, with the bulk of the increase occuring during the latter portion of that time frame.

This prediction of a growth “curve” makes sense to me.  As smart phones continue to evolve into ever more powerful mobile computing devices with a true convergence of capabilities, the prediction here is that the number of tools, apps, plug-ins, browsers, and content providers that support mobile augmented reality will dramatically increase over the coming 1 – 2 years.  Beyond this period of maturation, I believe that revenue generation will really begin to take off. 

Want to learn more?

There are a ton of great online resources and articles on augmented reality and its use in mobile marketing.  In fact, the real challenge in identifying additional suggested reading was knowing when to stop!  Though the focus of this particular blog post was the use of augmented reality for mobile marketing purposes, I’ve included links that cover its use in the web world as well.  Each delves further into the types, models, and potential uses of augmented reality:

Mobile augmented reality builds deep consumer engagement 

16 Top augmented reality business models

10 Awesome uses of augmented reality marketing

Location-based ads come to augmented reality in the US

IKEA uses augmented reality to engage shoppers’ imagination

GPS based augmented reality

There are also some very cool demonstrations of augmented reality apps of all types on YouTube

Got feedback?

This wraps up my first series on what’s exciting in mobile marketing, but based on the explosion of growth in mobile technologies, you can bet it won’t be the last.  It is certain that we’ll be visiting this topic again in the near future.  In the meantime, I’m always interested in hearing your questions, comments, and points of view. Please let me know what you think!

– Jim S.