SMPL Q&A is a blog feature in which we interview experts on all things relevant to branding, design and simplicity. In this Q&A we speak with Joseph Pack, strategy analyst, about brand experience and the evolving role of augmented reality (AR). 

What is AR and why does it matter?

Augmented reality is the process of overlapping a digital experience on top of the existing world as we see it, usually through monitors and smartphones that are connected to a live camera. But unlike virtual reality (VR) that requires independent hardware, software and specific user conditions to operate, brands can take advantage of more than two billion smartphones in the world to create unique, branded experiences without making customers go too far out of their way. By bringing the user and the user’s surroundings, into a branded experience, AR enables people to feel more immersed than ever before. When done right, this can build user engagement and help brands grow.

How can AR help to foster brand awareness?

AR offers a way to show users how a brand or product could fit into their lives. By overlapping a branded touchpoint with the user’s real world, AR creates a deeper way for consumers to interact with brands than other traditional digital marketing tactics, helping to create unique and memorable moments. This helps to facilitate organic growth by creating distinct content that users are more likely to share with their like-minded peers.

How can AR help to drive marketing objectives?

As a fundamental requirement, AR campaigns need to create memorable experiences for users. But beyond that, campaigns must also include some sort of “artifact,” or tangible offering for a user that exists beyond the initial interaction. By considering this important element, AR campaigns can be more than just a fun experience and can help to drive clear marketing and brand objectives. Most commonly, marketers create AR campaigns that are sharable through social media, creating an artifact that can be easily pushed to social channels. Notably, Snapchat introduced the 3D World Lens in 2017, which allows brands to create AR experiences and prompt users to share with their friends. With this, users aren’t just interacting with a brand, they’re sharing an artifact that can then help to build brand awareness. According to Snapchat, brands can expect to see a 19.7% average increase in ad awareness and a 6.4% increase in brand awareness when compared to non-AR based campaigns.

Click here to see Snapchat’s 3D World Lens in action, via @frntofficesport .

What is the future of AR?

As technology continues to improve, augmented reality will only continue to grow. Modern consumers are seeking new and distinct ways to interact with brands and successful campaigns have shown that AR is a viable option. Recent examples, like the Sephora Virtual Artist, which allows users to “try on” makeup with the help of AR, have already seen success with options for customers to purchase directly from the Sephora app, or share via social media. With smartphone cameras only getting better, and the continuing emphasis on mobile marketing, augmented reality will continue to become a staple for marketing and branded experiences.

Sephora Virtual Artist allows users to “try on” make-up and get expert advice before making a purchase directly from their app.

 Joseph Pack is a Strategy Analyst at Siegel+Gale. Follow him on Twitter @JPack95.