From Hype to the Rise of Augmented Reality in Marketing as an Engaging, Effective and Measurable Tactic

Especially when it comes to mobile, savvy brands are constantly seeking new approaches to reach consumers that deliver meaningful engagement that meets their goals in ways consumers actually like. Augmented Reality technology options have emerged as an exciting way to address these marketer needs.

Augmented Reality (AR) is an experience that utilizes a camera to change or enhances the user’s view of the world. AR experiences are a new way to create context and add experiences over physical world objects and attributes like location or a recognized image or object. With rising consumer awareness and technological advancements over the years, today we are seeing AR experiences being used in numerous applications for marketing purposes, from First Party Consumer/Social Applications to Gaming, Retail, Branding and Editorial experiences. The mobile-first era has ushered in new forms of storytelling and marketers are increasingly expressing interest in the possibilities that AR technology can provide to break through the clutter and engage with consumers in truly organic ways that drive engagement and affinity.

In response to the growing appetite for the use of AR for marketing purposes, the IAB Mobile Advertising and Digital Video Committees came together to form a working group* to create the Augmented Reality for Marketing, An IAB Playbook. The goal was to provide a framework for brands and their agencies who are considering and exploring the opportunities that AR can achieve for marketing based on today’s technologies. The resulting playbook is a comprehensive view of the AR space designed to help the buy side quickly identify, create, buy and measure numerous AR options. The guide provides an easy to understand overview of the technologies that enable AR. There are also helpful tips you should think about upfront to get started with AR campaigns to ensure maximum impact.

IAB identified four key reasons why AR is commanding brand and agency attention as depicted in this infographic found in the new playbook:

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The working group* co-chairs shared some behind-the-scenes insights about the playbook:

AR for Marketing: What’s Driving Growth
“The working group spent a great deal of time outlining the history of AR use cases to provide insight into how this technology came into existence and why it is now truly beginning to display signs of its bright future for marketing purposes. From smartphone advancements, particularly with camera/video technology, to television innovations that have enabled an exciting AR reality, consumers are increasingly becoming more aware of AR and are drawn to the format. These advancements, plus increased investment in development platforms and the introduction of AR SDKs have helped springboard AR adoption.”
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AR for Marketing: How Consumers Access AR; The Consumer Journey
“Many marketers/agencies have questions about how AR actually works. We get it… it can be confusing and this confusion may be inhibiting adoption. That’s why the working group felt it was important to clearly show how consumers access AR and how AR lends itself to a number of different types of experiences including front-facing and back-facing camera activations. The playbook shows, with helpful examples, how consumers access AR and, importantly, how AR experiences are activated via a phone camera, an AR-enabled app, AR in-feed or even via a head-mounted display.”
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AR for Marketing: Why AR for Marketing and Current Use Cases
“The IAB Playbook highlights studies that show how being presented with AR experiences can increase both retention and consideration among consumers of all ages. AR campaigns can also support increases in brand recognition, engagement, conversion/sales and product information/try on. Examples of use cases on social platforms, gaming and retail are shown along with specific examples of how AR can be deployed across ad units, app sponsorship, website enhancement, editorial and branded content. The Playbook also provides guidance on five key considerations for brands seeking to get started with AR.”
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AR for Marketing: Measurement
“AR is bringing to light a new dimension of digital. And with it, the need to align metrics to understand consumer impact. New use cases in content and ad experiences are growing opportunities for marketers to be more involved, but jumping in doesn’t have to be difficult. Marketers can start by aligning with their existing digital metrics for consistency in the way they buy and measure. Beyond these, you can start to examine the additional impact of interactivity afforded by the camera view, measuring new ways to interact beyond traditional clicks, redefining potential impact on your brand and embracing a new era of earned impact propelled by these extremely engaging experiences.”
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It is clear that Augmented Reality opens up new opportunities for marketers looking to engage consumers in deeply personalized and relevant ways that are not possible in other channels while also meeting key KPIs, said Julian Soler, Director, IAB Mobile Center of Excellence and the working group lead. It is IAB’s hope that this Playbook provides the information that brands and their agencies need to help evaluate and, hopefully, adopt today’s Augmented Reality options for marketing success.


*IAB gratefully acknowledges the working group members listed in the Playbook from the following companies for their contributions; Adform, Amazon, BrightLine, Conversant Media, Facebook, Google, GumGum, IAB Canada, Instreamatic, Inc., Kargo, Media Japan Network, MediaMath, Meredith Corp., MiQ, Neustar, The New York Times Company, PGA TOUR, PubMatic, RYOT, Sales Athlete, Inc., Snap, Inc., SpotX, SundaySky, Taboola, Teads, Unity Technologies, Verizon Media, Vertebrae, Viacom, Vivoom, Inc., Xandr.


Susan Borst
Head of Social and Content Marketing Solutions
at IAB