Augmented Reality in Marketing

Esquire augmented reality

Perhaps the largest area of development in Augmented Reality is marketing. From very simple to complex, marketers are jumping on the AR bandwagon. Many examples in the previous few paragraphs cross-over into the field of marketing. Music and movies are already using AR for promotion, but products as varied as snack foods, running shoes, and house sales are being marketed through AR browsers, AR markers and webcam interaction. Many examples could be classified as gimmicky, but others are practical and time saving. The key for marketers will be to produce meaningful additions that produce added value.

It's no secret that print media is under threat; revenues are declining as people spend more and more time with multimedia online. In November 2009, Esquire known for its techy gimmicks was the first magazine to have an augmented reality issue. To access the AR extras, readers must first download software. Once that is done the user points the AR marker on the cover to a web cam and cover boy Robert Downey Junior does a little song and dance in promotion of his movie Sherlock Holmes. Point the marker in a different direction and he does something different. Inside the issue are other interactions. In a fashion picture the marker triggers different weather and different outfits. The joke of the day read by an attractive woman changes depending on the day and time you have the marker under the webcam view. Said to have cost 6 figures to produce, the issue certainly garnered a lot of attention.

But as the Gillian Reagan in the Observer asks, "Is it worth it?" Perhaps the issue's sales numbers will tell us whether AR pays off. Okay, augmented reality is cool, new technology and it's great that a traditional media company is playing with it. But the thrill is gone for readers after about 30 seconds and it's a pain to download all of the applications to make it work. Nobody reads a magazine to look at 3-D images. We can go to a 3-D Pixar movie or cue up YouTube or even play a video game for that kind of experience. Reading a magazine like Esquire is all about the great writing and original content within its pages. These augmented reality features are beautiful, but not useful to the reader just yet."'' []

See a short video tour Esquire AR Esquire's Augmented Reality Issue

It probably wasn't long after the release of the Nearest Tube application that Stella Artois realized why not a Stella Artois locator.

Stella Artois Le Bar Guide<

Blink 182

When Blink-182 decided to plan a reunion tour, '''Doritos''' saw an opportunity. Together they produced an AR promotion. A marker on special edition Doritos bags triggered a preview of the show. When users went to the website and flashed the marker, the band appeared to explode out of the Doritos bag. Manipulating and shaking the bag created different band interactions. []

See a video of how it worked

n the 60s, not so super secret agent, Maxwell Smart used his shoe as a telephone. Today your shoe may be a game controller.'''Adidas''' launched the first Augmented Reality experience in footwear February 2010. Play AR games with your shoe. Maybe it's best to play the games before you wear them though!

Adidas Originals - Augmented Reality Sneaker Experience


When Yelp released a mobile application for the iPhone, many users were unaware that the app has a secret augmented reality view. The basic Yelp application allows users to share information and experiences about local businesses. To enable the secret augmented reality version of Yelp on the iPhone, users need only shake their phones three times while Yelp is active. Suddenly, something called Monocle appears. Launching it brings up overlaid information on bars and restaurants that change as the user moves throughout the city. See a demo Yelp! Augmented Reality in iPhone 3GS with Monocle]

In time for Passover 2010 comes the Augmented Reality Matza from Saatchi and Saatchi Israel

Real Estate

Looking for a new home is becoming easier through the use of '''Layar''' Browser and AR applications. In an 8 minute video '''RSVP Real Estate''' illustrates how potential buyers can point their iPhone or Android phones to find house listing. Not only will users be able to see places for sale within a certain radius, but they would even have details, pictures, movies of the location and of course quick phone links, or texting links to the selling agents. [ RSVP Real Estate - New Augmented Reality Technology] On the downside, it makes detailed information of a home open to any person walking by. Of course this information has been available on the internet through Multiple Listing Services, but usually a person would have to take the time to look that information up at a computer usually at a removed location.
See also Layar, a Reality Browser demonstrates its use for real estate, [ Augmented Reality Browser-Real Estate]


Marketing of products through catalogues will see changes with AR interaction. A marker under a web cam will trigger the product to come to life. See a short video example [ Interactive Product Catalogue- Duo Schreib & Spiel]

Talking Dog Studios is working on a number of AR projects. One of their sites [ ExpandAR] is a visual face tracking toy using augmented reality for strange visual face altering effects. Once on the site just allow the use of your webcam and play. In a March 19, 2010 Talking Dog AR blog post titled Alice in AR Land, the authors talk about the potential for using face recognition on TV and movies to insert a viewer's face onto characters in movies and shows. "Can you imagine watching a program or a commercial where you see yourself inserted into the action using the approach we're showing here, with your face changing to different characters, or being modified in interesting ways as different things happen to you?" Talking Dog Studios wants to put you in the picture. Their software uses flash and does not require markers or downloaded software. Read more about their vision [ Alice in AR Land -Talking Dog AR]

Military Recruiting

Military recruiting sites are using Augmented Reality to attract potential recruits. One example is the Race for Strength Challenge at Download the AR graphic and "Test your skills against the army's high tech vehicles."Try your driving skills here [ Race for Strength Challenge]


In an April 26, 2010 YouTube video [ The Future of Retail Touchpoints] Edward Westenberg of Cisco IBSG talks about the changing nature of "retail touchpoints" the places and vehicles that influence a consumer's shopping journey. He talks about how Augmented Reality applications turn shoppers into moving targets, but also how these applications and social networks and behavioural targeting will tell them even more about their potential customers.

Travel wants you to experience cities around the U.S. through augmented reality. Their microsite []allows a printed marker in an ad to trigger 3D AR of cities like New York, Denver, and Las Vegas. Their claymation mascot guides the user through the experience. The virtual experiences include getting married in Las Vegas, taking part in Mardi Gras and riding a Bull. See the video [ Virtual Vacation from Inside Story]

Print a marker code and place it around your wrist to see how that Tissot watch looks on your wrist

Molson's Party Bottles

Augmented Reality Ads

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