Augmented Reality.   Immerse your audience.
At Trekk, augmented reality is part of our Paper to Pixels strategy; we use it to move audiences from a single, static touch point to a digital channel that enables connection and continued communication.
We go well beyond AR development. We help you craft multi-channel strategies that aid in the distribution, deployment, and ongoing content management of your AR channels and content.
What makes augmented reality such a game changer for marketers is its ability to engage audiences in different ways over time. By creating content experiences that supplement print collateral, direct mail, packaging, and more, you can create memorable, meaningful, and measurable interactions that increase audience response. More importantly, you can change those experiences over time, creating a communication channel that promotes loyalty.
Whether the AR experience you desire is a 2D or 3D video, an interactive experience, or a fully immersive experience that transports your audience into a virtual environment, our developers can bring your vision to life through:
Direct mail and catalogs
Event marketing programs
Packaging and point of sale
Branded mobile apps
What is augmented reality?
Augmented reality uses a device, usually a smartphone or tablet, to augment the real world — to add an extra layer on the viewer’s physical surroundings. That layer could be an animation, a 3D model, or any combination of images, sound, and video that together create an experience for the viewer.
It’s not the same thing as virtual reality. These technologies are often lumped together, probably because people who are interested in one are often interested in the other. (Trekk is a case in point — we’re also really into VR.)
Virtual reality involves tricking the mind into experiencing a completely alternative world, one that is not really there. Today’s VR usually involves a wearable — a headset or glasses that you put on to block out the real world. Many of these headset experiences have an audio component to more fully immerse the viewer in the virtual world.
One of the important differences between AR and VR is that augmented reality can be used as a bridge between the physical world and the digital one. When implemented with a marker — usually an icon printed on a print piece — AR acts as a catalyst that moves the viewer from that print piece to a digital channel. Markerless augmented reality, on the other hand, is launched directly from an app. Which type you choose — marker-based or markerless — will depend on your audience and your goals.
How are organizations using augmented reality?
The short answer: to communicate better.
There are infinite augmented reality use cases across industries. Our prediction is that we’ll see it more and more frequently in healthcare and education in the coming months and years. Developing a training manual? Imagine bringing the printed piece to life with augmented videos, 3D models, and voice instruction. It’s the multi-dimensional way that people experience most media these days, so why shouldn’t educators be able to harness this technology to reach more learners — and more individual learning styles? At Trekk, we use augmented reality to help our clients reach a larger audience across more channels. When we’re all on our smartphones all day, every day, augmented reality is a way for marketers to meet customers where they are.
Augmented reality: a bridge between channels.
Over the last decade, multi-channel marketers have invested heavily in digital strategies — their websites, their social media presences, online advertising, and inbound marketing. In the physical world, they’re also sending direct mail, representing their brand at live events, and investing in out-of-home advertising.
Augmented reality is game-changing because it ties our digital initiatives to a bigger, multi-channel picture. It can launch someone from your poster to your website, from your trade show booth to your downloadable content offer. The interaction might begin on the pages of your magazine or with a piece of transactional mail, but bridging to digital with AR makes it easier for your audience to engage on the channel of their choice. Suddenly, your multiple channels look less like a set of parallel lines and more like an interconnected web.
Ready to take your audience from paper to pixels? Try:
- Augmented Reality Direct Mail. A postcard with a photo of your product is one thing, but adding videos or 3D models can take engagement and effectiveness to a whole new level.
- Augmented Reality Sales Collateral. Pack collateral with supplemental information, explainer videos, and contact methods. AR helps your sales leave-behinds stay evergreen — just update the AR experience with new information monthly or quarterly and you’ve got a built-in content delivery system.
- Augmented Reality Product Catalogs. Make catalogs three-dimensional and interactive. AR allows customers to explore products at scale in their own homes, test before they buy, and check out easily on mobile.
- Augmented Reality Packaging. Packaging is the perfect opportunity to integrate visual storytelling. Augmented packaging is all about the customer relationship. The viewer has already bought the product, and now the packaging is a platform to deliver even more value with video demos and interactive FAQs.
- Augmented Reality Event Marketing. AR makes a powerful event traffic driver. The technology works well for exploring conferences and large exhibit halls, and gamification gets your audience engaged.
Because it’s easy to add new experiences to an existing AR marker, AR print can have a long shelf life — if it’s designed with some forethought. Include elements that are unlikely to change in the print piece itself, and use the AR component to communicate more timely information.
Take, for example, a pitch book about an organization’s core service offering. Parts of that communication remain fairly static, while some details are more likely to need updating from time to time. Print the static information in the book, and use AR to add informational videos, images, and text, which are easy to refresh when things change or when they feel outdated. The added benefit is that updating your AR content regularly is a great way to incentivize repeat engagement with your catalogs, magazines, and books, extending the value and shelf life of your print even further.
Getting started with augmented reality: experience types.
When creating an augmented reality experience, start with your customers. What do you want them to experience? How do you want them to interact? What is your call to action — what do you want them to do or take away from the experience?
There are five basic AR experience types, although we’ve designed AR apps that include multiple — or even all five — experience types. When conceptualizing how you want your audience to interact, considering the following five types.
AR Experience Type 1: Video Launch
This experience is exactly what it sounds like: you scan the AR marker, and it triggers a video. We’ve found this to be an effective way to move an audience from print to digital channels, and the more valuable the video content, the better it works — think how-to videos or videos that help your audience accomplish a task or goal.
AR Experience Type 2: 3D Object
In this type of experience, scanning the AR marker calls up a 3D object that can then be viewed and manipulated from all angles. This is especially helpful for catalogs or any scenario where a customer might need to examine a product — picture an automotive parts catalog where you can rotate and inspect each part to make sure it’s right before purchasing.
AR Experience Type 3: 360-Degree Surround
Here’s where augmented reality can start to feel a bit like virtual reality — but instead of wearing a VR headset, you’re simply looking through your device, like a window to a virtual world. You, as the viewer, become the center of a virtual space in which you can turn around, look up, look down, and look all around, and through your device be transported. This type of experience is perfect for virtual tours or walkthroughs and has huge potential for education and immersive training — we’ve even used it to give clients’ new employees tours of their workplaces during training. It’s also a great way to give people more information about where products come from, simply by augmenting the label — imagine a bag of coffee beans that launches a 360-degree tour of the roasting company or a wine bottle that transports you to the winery.
AR Experience Type 4: Interactive Game
We’ve had a lot of fun with this experience type at live events and with direct mail promotions. Adding an aspect of gamification is a great way to draw people in and create buzz, as we did with our Hoops Madness traffic driver.
AR Experience Type 5: Information Overlay
Information overlay means adding a little helpful extra content (and context) to the physical world in the form of text, graphs, photos, or audio. Think of it like invisible museum placards that can be called up with an app. This type of experience is great for manuals as well as for virtual tours.
Augmented reality deployment: custom app or third-party platform?
Every AR experience is built using an AR platform or studio; popular options include Layar and Wikitude. The experience can then be deployed via that third-party platform or via your own app, and it can be developed for iOS, Android, or both. Using a third-party app can help to get your experience to market more quickly, and it can be cheaper if you don’t already have an app.
No third-party app, however, can provide the flexibility and control that comes with developing your own custom augmented reality app. If your experience involves gamification, for example, it’s pretty much a necessity to go custom, as most third-party apps don’t allow for the level of interactivity games require. The other benefit of a custom app is that it can be branded so that your audience recognizes it as yours. With third-party apps, you’re confined to sending your audience to someone else’s app. Not only is this asking your customers to jump through an additional hoop and potentially introducing some confusion, it’s also possible that the positive brand equity you create might be mistakenly directed at someone else’s brand.
If you already have an app, it’s simply a matter of deciding whether you want to add AR functionality to your existing app — which may or may not make sense, depending on your app’s purpose. When we’re deciding whether to go third-party, custom, or build out an existing app, we always come back to the question: what will make for the best user experience?