- USA Today released two augmented reality (AR) experiences for the FIFA Women's World Cup, the soccer tournament that kicks off in France on June 8, according to an announcement shared with Mobile Marketer. The AR experiences aim to engage mobile readers with more immersive storytelling as the U.S. women's team seeks to win its second straight championship title.
- The experiences include USA Today's first AR game called "Make the Save" that challenges players to test their virtual goalkeeping skills by blocking penalty kicks. USA Today captured the moves of Alyssa Naeher, the No. 1-ranked goalkeeper in the world, by using photogrammetry.
- Its "Meet the Team" experience lets users learn about individual players on Team USA, set within a virtual soccer field. The interactive content also provides updates on the standing of the team during the tournament, recent match scores and game schedule.
USA Today's two new AR experiences build on the news provider's growing library of immersive content that seeks to engage mobile users with interactive storytelling. By creating its first AR game, USA Today can tap into the surging popularity of mobile games. An estimated 2.4 billion people worldwide will play mobile games this year, according to researcher Newzoo, a massive audience that rivals the reach of social media apps and presents ample opportunity for marketers to reach tech-savvy consumers.
USA Today has previously experimented with AR development and immersive storytelling with an eye toward the future of news consumption. The media organization in April created an immersive experience called "New Heights: Groundbreaking skyscrapers" to showcase some of the world's tallest buildings. The interactive skyscraper exhibit was USA Today's third AR experience this year following a feature about Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson and a display of Oscar-nominated costumes leading into the Academy Awards.
Publishers like USA Today are seeking to engage a new generation of consumers as the audience for print media dwindles amid a shift to digital and mobile platforms. About 1,800 newspapers closed between 2004 and 2018, while only 400 online-only local news sites were created during that time, according to a University of North Carolina study cited by The Wall Street Journal. Facebook and Google have grabbed 58% of digital advertising revenue on a national level, according to estimates from Borrell Associates and eMarketer, competing directly with news publishers that have grown more reliant on consumer revenue from paywalls and subscriptions.