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Augmented reality is the new QR code

Bloomingdales AR

Bloomingdales and NBC augmented reality

Last year, QR codes were the go-to technology that marketers used to connect with tech-savvy consumers. While the medium is still a big force in mobile, augmented reality is increasingly making a name for itself and marketers are embracing all forms of the technology to offer a new type of engagement.

Although augmented reality has been around for a while now, it is more popular in Europe than it is in the United States. Marketers need to continue to embrace the technology and persistently implement it into their day-to-day initiatives to stay on trend.

“QR codes are quickly being replaced by augmented,” said Vivian Rosenthal, founder/CEO of GoldRun. “There are two main types of AR – GPS-based and computer vision.

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“GPS-based AR works simply through geo-fencing a location and having the content visible to you by being in that location without needing to scan anything, whereas computer vision AR requires you to scan a product or logo,” she said.

“We’re seeing augmented reality being used in retail, entertainment, sports and CPG.

New vision
Nowadays, marketers are implementing all forms of augmented reality because it offers a new type of engagement that moves beyond the Web and into users’ lives.

This makes the experience more immersive, experiential and shareable.

“Brands and agencies will increasingly use augmented reality platforms to create deeper engagements with consumers that go beyond a "Like" or comment on Facebook and instead create a call-to-action that allows users to interact with their products and characters in a more personal way,” Ms. Rosenthal said.

“Users are then offered rewards for sharing their photo on social networks, leading to revenue for the brand, either by driving foot traffic to a brick and mortar or offering a coupon on an ecommerce site,” she said. 

Augmented reality helps bridge the physical and digital world.

According to Trak Lord, a spokesman for metaio, augmented reality helps marketers take visual recognition and search and apply it to a more immersive experience in which the user can experience digital in the real world, rather than essentially literring the world with anonymous hyperlinks.

“It’s less that augmented reality is the new QR code than it is the evolution of mobile camera technology,” Mr. Lord said. “The QR code is really just a very base form of computer vision.

“QR codes are actually extremely simple for the camera to recognize and take an action, which is why they’re probably integrated into so many campaigns,” he said.  “Every day there is a new marketing campaign that uses augmented reality as part of its promotion.

“Macy’s recently launched an in-store AR campaign that let mobile users interact with 3D jungles, soccer players and Brazilian dancers and IKEA just released their 2013 catalog, with 43 instances of image recognition and augmented reality experiences.”

Seeing clearly
Augmented reality is a way to visualize information in the real world.

“It’s a technology with almost limitless applications in a variety of industries and sectors,” Mr. Lord said.

When evaluating an augmented reality campaign, the most important aspect is the user experience.

If marketers add an AR element to their campaigns, they should make sure that it will compliment the campaign rather than just be there for the sake of being there.

Additionally, the augmented reality element should not overly complicate and distract from the purpose of the campaign. It is crucial that the technology is implemented seamlessly.

“Augmented Reality has always had strong roots in industrial applications, but engineering projects are rarely used for promotion and are often below the public’s radar,” Mr. Lord said.

Image recognition and augmented reality is a destroyer for QR codes, per Jessica Butcher, marketing and founding director at Blippar, London.

“No longer do you have to have a black and white ugly square to drive engagement,” Ms. Butcher said. “Augmented reality has become a trigger for interactive engagement.

According to Ms. Butcher, marketers have not fully-embraced AR, but are dabbling in the technology and trying out different things.

“Augmented reality and image recognition provides marketers with a way to enhance the real world,” Ms. Butcher said.

Final Take
Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York

Associate Editor Rimma Kats covers media, television, research and social networks. Reach her at rimma@mobilemarketer.com.

Related content: Software and technology, augmented reality, Vivian Rosenthal, Trak Lord, Jessica Butcher, mobile marketing, mobile

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Comments on "Augmented reality is the new QR code"

  1. Niek Theunissen says:

    August 17, 2012 at 10:46am

    Although I love smartphones & AR, there is one major setback: it's practical use. One advantage QR has at the moment is that (some) people recognize it and know what to do in order to put it to use. I never know what objects might have augmented information, when I'm simply walking outside or in a shop.
    Since even more people know what a URL looks like, placing a short URL sticker on an object, would be ideal. If any AR app delivers both, and delivers this as a commodity (simple API & webservice), you have my blessing!
    URL recognition is key, both for users and apps, imho.
  2. Brett Levy says:

    August 16, 2012 at 6:58pm

    At Laurent - I see you work for or own a QR software company so your detailed reply makes sense - I am not knocking QR - I am just suggesting that as more and more smartphones enter the market - AR will take over as consumers are content hungry - we can incidently also track how, where and where the triggers where activated from - but that is a discussion for the media planners who's sole focus is ROI and measurability.

    At Jack - the limitations that you reference insofar as the company that sets up the channel is the contributor to the limitation. The concept behind BAR is to remove this and place everyones content into our channel thereby affording users to view everything with one app. It will be a slow process to start - but so was QR when it started and now look at it. AR should be considered as the evolution of QR - give Kudos to the little black and white blocks but things change.
  3. Brett Levy says:

    August 14, 2012 at 4:35pm

    Great Article - we have developed a fully functional and more importantly incredibly well priced app called BAR - Browse Augmented Reality. Would love your thoughts/comments.


  4. Laurent Tonnelier says:

    August 14, 2012 at 12:17pm

    Everytime a new technology raises, some people wants to replace everything with this new set of tools. Unfortunately for them, this is not the way it works.

    QR Code is far more complex than a matrix of black and white dots. QR Code is all about mobile content - a convenient, open, simple access to the Mobile Internet. Using NFC, QR Code, Image Recognition, Sound Tagging... it's all about mobile content.

    For us to remember, the QR Code was created by DENSO Wave. It belongs to anybody under the ISO/IEC 18004 standard specifications. As part of the "Automatic identification and data capture techniques" ISO Working Group, it was designed to turn each printed into a unique and traceable document.
    This is not how Image Recognition works. If a magazine, a billboard or a post card share the same visual, the same content will be delivered. No specific tracking could be done.

    In order to invite people to use AR, you may avoid printing a QR Code, but you have to print a logo - most of the time, the logo of company that provides the reader...

    Then comes the Data Governance.
    While using an URL, it is straightforward: the one that owns the domain name owns the link. Either you are using Norton Snap, pbSmart, Scanbuy or i-Nigma makes no difference.

    I really do appreciate what Junaio and Total Immersion are doing in AR. They are leveraging the real world, using QR Code, when exists, for a better end user experience.
  5. Jack Forge says:

    August 14, 2012 at 8:24am

    Ask a marketer if they would rather reach 3 million people or 100 million, and I think you would question this article. While QR Codes may be an eye soar, they get noticed and they reach anyone with a qr reader. AR works only with the company that set it up and their specific app. Unless you're Layar, not much of an audience size.
  6. Henry Bendik says:

    August 14, 2012 at 7:18am

    Good article, it would have been more engaging if you gave some examples, sites and companies using AR such as aurasma and blippar Some real creative stuff out there already.
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