Here, Jon Stubley (pictured below), managing director ANZ of GumGum, says augmented marketing is only just hitting its stride here in Australia and, he warns, you ain’t seen nothing yet…!
Last month, Ikea acquired online gig economy platform Task Rabbit (the US equivalent of our own Airtasker). It makes perfect sense as a move to improve the customer experience of millions of consumers who struggle to decipher their hieroglyphic-like instructions. It also makes sense in a world where customer experience is becoming the key differentiator for most organisations; retail or not.
According to Ikea CEO Jesper Brodin, the acquisition will also enable the company to “learn from TaskRabbit’s digital expertise.”
Ikea has long been experimenting in the digital world. For example, it was an early adopter of Virtual Reality (VR), launching an Australian VR store earlier this year. However, it has recently launched a new Augmented Reality (AR) app that really gets me excited.
Ikea Place, which uses Apple’s new ARKit (the developer toolkit created to drive the augmented reality capabilities on iOS devices), will allow customers to tap through the app’s 2,000 different products, then hold up their phone and use the camera to show how the product looks in their own room. The app can even sense walls and determine how light and shadows sit on the furniture along with the ability to purchase in-app.
The app demonstrates one of the most exciting things about the new wave of augmented reality; the use of computer vision to put things in their proper context and scale them to their desired destination. It is possible thanks to recent technological advances that use computer vision to enable mobile devices to detect their position relative to the world around them.
And it’s pertinent to the media and marketing world as it can be used in anything from advertising to branding to retail to customer service.
As with the adoption of any new technology, there’s bound to be some misfire – innovation for innovation’s sake versus providing a true utility to boost the customer experience.
However, there are some interesting early examples out there which illustrate its future potential for the media and marketing industry as follows.
If you are bemused to see so many people taking photos of their food in restaurants these days, then the bad news is you will probably see more people pointing their cameras at the table.
AR start up Kabaq is aiming to transform the traditional restaurant menu by allowing diners to see 360 degrees, near photorealistic 3D images presented to scale on the plate in front of them. Check out the video to see precisely what I mean, but it’s akin to the old laminated photo menu on steroids.
From a wider marketing perspective, the company is also seeking to develop custom applications for brands. For example, consumers could point their phones at product packaging and visualise recipes made with the product – an interesting option for FMCG and supermarkets.
In the US, home improvement giant, Lowes have developed Lowe’s Vision: In-Store Navigation app that lets customers use their Google Tango-enabled smartphone to search for products online, add them to a shopping list and then use their phone to find the products they need inside the store.
Here the excitement is in the ‘what if’. The reality is that there are hardly any smartphones with Tango incorporated as it requires hardware that is pretty expensive (to resolve this issue, Google have recently introduced a ARCore – its answer to ARKit so it can bring augmented reality experiences to other phones without requiring the hardware).
However, going forward we are likely to see brands using this type of functionality both inside and outside of the physical store. For example, theoretically you could use it in busy urban areas and point your phone to find your favourite artisanal coffee or kombucha.
The beauty industry is a natural fit for augmented reality apps and they have been early adopters and experimenters. Makeup mega-store Sephora introduced its Virtual Artist iOS app earlier this year. It scans your face, locates your eyes and lips, and lets you try on different looks. The app also offers virtual tutorials to demonstrate how to do things like contour and apply eyeliner virtually, right on their faces.
L’Oréal also has several branded AR apps (Makeup Genius, Style My Hair) that let users apply makeup and hair looks to their selfies before trying a product. Outside of providing utility to consumers, it uses the data to find out what customers like and don’t like.
It is still early days, but as technologies like ARKit and ARCore continue to mature, we will absolutely see AR become increasingly integral to marketing and advertising campaigns. The trick will be to create an experience that provides genuine utility and engagement for the consumer.
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