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Zagat Survey gears up for augmented reality iPhone app

Zagat Survey, a provider of online travel and leisure information, is gearing up to launch its popular nru (near you) augmented reality application for the iPhone.

The free application is currently available on Google's Android platform. Zagat plans to launch an iPhone version by the end of the year.

?The strategy is to provide a unique but useful experience to engage consumers with the brand,? said Ryan Charles, senior product and marketing manager at Zagat Survey, New York. ?I think the consumers are more engaged in augmented reality than looking at a list of info.

?It?s interactive and users are physically moving to interact with the environment,? he said.

Zagat Survey is a worldwide source for information about where to eat, drink, stay and play.

Nru is a GPS-based application that offers free access to Zagat ratings and cost estimates for nearby restaurants, nightspots and shops in more than 75 cities worldwide.

The closest Zagat-rated establishments are visually plotted on a radar screen showing compass directions and distance from origin.

Each establishment displays Zagat's cost estimate and ratings for food, appeal and quality based on Zagat's 30-point scale.

Augmented reality is used to display a 360-degree first-person view.

After clicking on a location, users are directed to http://zagat.mobi where they can find addresses, phone numbers, photos, click-to-call options and more.

Upon logging in, the user can access the full review if they have subscribed to the Zagat services.

Mr. Charles said that the ideal user for the Zagat application is anyone interested in quality experiences while dining out, going to bars or shopping.

Because the application is free, Mr. Charles said that it addresses the company?s interest in exposing Zagat to consumers and giving them a taste of its content.

There are no advertisements, but users are redirected to the mobile site, which is ad-supported and subscription-based.

Mr. Charles said it is important for brands to leverage augmented reality to help them reach their marketing goals.

?I think augmented reality is important and I think brands should realize they don?t have to build the technology themselves,? Mr. Charles said.

?It is beneficial for marketers who have physical presences, whether it is a major brand like Dunkin Donuts or a museum, to draw consumers in with special offers, because the consumers are physically there, so you can draw them in," he said.