“Brand managers need to think differently when it comes to AR”

Vivek Aiyer, Founder, CEO of Appearition, shares his viewpoints on the application of augmented reality (AR) solutions in the OOH space in an exclusive interview with Outdoor Asia’s Rajiv Raghunath.

Edited excerpts:

Augmented Reality (AR)/ Virtual Reality (VR) technologies are not new to the Indian market. Yet, it has taken a long while for these technologies and applications to find a larger, ready market in India. What steps are needed to evangelise AR/ VR technologies & apps in the Indian market, more so in the OOH advertising space?

It is quite interesting to see the advent of these technologies. Both AR and VR are not new technologies, having been around for more than a few decades. Yet there remains a lack of awareness among the wider consumer audience.

The fact of the matter is that AR has been in our lives for years – used most commonly in weather reports on the news and in live sports broadcasts. AR is quite literally the augmentation (or improvement) of reality – altered with an overlay of information on a pre-existing line of sight. The difference in today’s experience is that handheld devices have replaced televisions – but the application of the basic technology has remained consistent.

In comparison, VR  is where the consumer of the technology is fully immersed in the virtual world. Common experiences include experience capsules at science museums, but due to cost implications, has been used more in a commercial sense for medical or training purposes. Once again, handheld devices have made the experience more accessible – but application of the concept remains the same.

Beyond the evolution of hardware, campaigns have too often been utilised as one-off flash-in-the-pan attempts to display brands “innovatively” – whereas at Appearition we believe that AR is a media channel, more than just a solution. A media channel, just like print, radio, television, web and mobile, before it. Just as a brand would identify a core messaging and then develop creatives and iterations for television or print – and more recently digital, concepts need to be developed to funnel through this medium – enhancing the consumer experience but staying completely aligned to core messaging.

As a media channel, the right utilisation of these technologies enable the overlay of contextual information that enables decision making including purchase decisions – a key goal of any brand managers. In a nation as broad as India this enables the application of custom language communication depending on an automatic identification of the user’s location or pre-defined preferences. In the OOH space this enables experiences triggered by the once creative – but absolutely customised to the user being exposed to the experience – be they Punjabi,  Bengali, Marathi or Tamil. This is quite powerful as a method of customised engagement.

How effective are VR/AR applications in OOH advertising in the more developed markets? Have you handled any such project in those markets?

JCDecaux recently finished a campaign where they had integrated an AR application with Batman and Superman. The opportunity was for passers-by to “evolve” into their favourite superhero. The novelty factor was very high and it certainly had a very positive response. Tesco also had a highly successful campaign where consumers could “do their shopping” whilst waiting for their bus; the AR experience was triggered off by the media board on the bus stop.

Our approach to AR is to be more of an integrated solution. We haven’t been involved in outdoor specific advertising in that context. We have however been involved in several projects where outdoor based navigation that triggers off AR experience.This was used to promote tourism. Furthermore, we have been involved in arts and theatre productions, open days, etc. The point to consider is that a brand needs to have specific content for its AR channel just as it would for the other audio-visual channels. There needs to be an overall degree of consistency in how this content is being presented and the shift needs to be in the eyes of the brand manager to move away from thinking of this area as a novelty technology solution and start to incorporate it into planning as a new communication channel. There would have been a similar shift at the introduction of each new media – initially an exciting new innovation, but eventually just another medium as part of a multi-platform approach.

Are AR/VR applications more attuned to indoor advertising media, such as airport media, mall media, etc? Is there scope for their application on traditional billboards and the like?

Absolutely. Let’s consider a sample scenario – assume a brand wishes to launch a soft drink in a nationwide campaign. The brand manager would have content and campaigns ready for the traditional channels – print, web, mall media, etc. If we take the approach mentioned earlier where we see AR as just another media channel – it provides a novel fashion to present the launch campaign. However, it also offers the opportunity to merge other media through an integrated approach.

An AR app can be configured such that based on the temperature of the city that the consumer is in while using the app, it could initiate push message featuring specific discounts or promotions. Essentially the consumer experience when triggering off the billboard may be vastly different based on whether it is a 30-degree day or 20-degree day. Secondly the same AR app could attract on-premise customers where they take the app into a store in order to redeem vouchers  (vouchers redeemed off packing of the product), and last but not least, integration of location based e-commerce component.

This is the power of an integrated AR solution; it can spread across all traditional media channels and can bring them to life. The key to success here is not to treat them as once-off campaign, but have them all tightly linked.

Source:  Outdoor Asia | November 2016

Follow this space for part-2 of the interview.

Best Augmented Travel Apps to use On The Go

Augmented reality technology has already proven immensely successful in the realm of gaming and entertainment. It’s also made forays into industries such as defence and the military. But it doesn’t stop there. AR is making some interesting inroads into the industries of transportation and tourism through more augmented travel apps.

Related post: What is Augmented Reality?

AR apps for public transport

One such example is illustrated by a new breed of AR-based apps for public transportation. These apps take pertinent information such as train schedules, delays, stop information and so on and overlay it on real world images. For example, fire up an app, point your phone at a train map in New York City, and immediately your display comes to life with information about train schedules, turnstile date and even how many people are in the subway.

 

 

 

 

 

This is exactly how an iOS augmented travel app called Tunnel Vision works. Pulling data from the Metropolitan Transport Authority, the app draws over your camera feed, giving the user real time information. It also provides complementary information such as rent prices or median incomes of various neighbourhoods, giving the user a unique depth of information. Quite a refreshing change from gazing at a static train map for a few minutes.

Related post: How AR is changing the way we travel?

AR apps to overcome the language barriers

Similarly, if you find yourself travelling in Switzerland, download the Departures Switzerland app. This one doesn’t even require a map. Just point your phone in the direction of the nearest station or stop and a digital destination board overlays your image. It sure beats asking for directions, especially if you don’t speak the language. Already, the updated Google Translate app now features augmented reality capabilities. Imagine pairing that with a public transport/tourism app. You could confidently navigate the intricate train networks of Tokyo or Moscow without fear of complexity or language barriers.

Related post: Augmented Reality Transport Improving Daily Life?

Virtual tours

Furthermore, existing AR apps that allow you to take virtual tours of your intended hotel or explore local attractions. That would be amazing transportation-cum-tourism app. Augmented travel apps have helped tourists navigate train lines, to assisting cyclists in urban traffic and improving logistics transportation optimization. However, augmented reality has significant room to develop in this industry and will do so over the coming years.

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Immersive Technologies – Museum visits made interesting

We have seen that use of immersive technologies enhances productivity, aids emergency response situations, makes education interactive and simplifies shopping. Augmented Reality and museum visits – sounds like chalk and cheese isn’t it? Well, it no longer is.
Several museums across the globe have successfully incorporated Augmented and Virtual Reality in their channels.

Museums have been using AR-VR to their advantage to bring exhibits and artefacts to life. Let’s look at how this has changed museum visits:

Promotes easy learning

The ‘Story of Forest’ art, in Singapore museum, had about 69 giant murals, housed in the museum’s glass rotunda. Visitors use an app and hunt for flora and fauna within the drawings. After hunting various drawings, the photos are added to a collection. Visitors can use this collection to know more information on the plant or animal variety. These kind of fun exercises and over-lay learning helps them understand on an animal’s dietary plans, species and other general information.

Brings display to life

Smithsonian Natural Museum of History, Washington D C, utilised Augmented Reality innovatively. They launched an app called ‘Skins and Bones’, which brought animals to life using AR technology’s super-imposed pictures. Users can scan and point the app at an animal bone in display and view it in flesh and movement. These kinds of activities enable visualisation of extinct animals or artefacts.
Virtual Museum visits

Furthermore, the app also provided an immersive experience to users who were unable to visit the museum. They provided enthusiasts with ‘trigger images’ (See picture below) that they can aim at and experience the same picture from home comfort.

Image Courtesy

Hologram – Immersive walk-throughs

The Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, USA, brought former astronauts to life and enabled an immersive experience with them. Interactive pieces located throughout the building allow early astronauts and NASA legends to tell their stories.

Image Courtesy

Hologram – Immersive walk-throughs

The Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, USA, brought former astronauts to life and enabled an immersive experience with them. Interactive pieces located throughout the building allow early astronauts and NASA legends to tell their stories.

Image Courtesy

Interactive Learning

England’s Historic cities app serves as one-stop-AR interactive view of over 12 cities from Durham to Salisbury. This app is an example of learning while viewing. Users can know more on each city by clicking on the Augmented information on display.

Image Courtesy

This is blog is a re-written excerpt from Smithsonian.com

AR-VR in Retail: More than just a tool for marketing

Highlights of the Retail Trends Vol 2 of Deloitte

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) have proved their ability to enhance processes across industry verticals. They’ve proven to reduce errors, prevent mistakes and increase productivity. However, perception of these technologies in the retail space has always been a marketing tool.

Let’s look at the multiple use-case(s) that they have:

Pre-plan shopping trips

AR-VR can provide complete fore-hand information on a product – which will motivate people pressed for time to complete the long-due shopping. Often, shoppers race against time and retailers are against inverse staff to consumer ratio. AR-VR can solve this issue, two-in-one. This increases the buyer conversion rate.

Information Delivery

Target the right customer with right information. AR-VR helps retailers send personalised and targeted ads, product and offer information while shopping. This will ensure filtering unnecessary spam ads and enable customer to take notice of quintessential information.

In-store engagement

In a multi-product store or a mall, AR and VR can be used to assist customer navigation; collect information on customer preference (through a poll/game). These apps take self-help counter help to the next level.

Product customisation

Customers will be able to try multiple colours, shapes without having to physically try each product. Also, the visuals offer options to mix and match styles.

Experiential campaigns

True potent of what a retailer is trying to sell is often seen only when the actual product is delivered. AR-VR helps bridge this gap is visualisation and actual product by giving a realistic experience of the product before delivery.

Low-cost visualisation of high-cost assets

High-cost assets often carry a high cost sales cycle because of customers’ hesitation in purchasing something they can’t properly visualise. Using VR, models of high-cost assets can be developed at a much lower cost, increasing accessibility.

Lo-fi testing: Testing multiple scenarios in virtual spaces to iterate on solutions and identify the best customer solution to mitigate implementation risk.

These use-cases bust the myth that AR/VR is not just a gaming tool.

Deloitte says: the most successful adopters of VR and AR will be retailers which use the technology to enhance their relationship with customers, rather than replace it.

Excerpt from the Deloitte Vol 2 Virtual and augmented reality – a guide for Australian retailers

How AR will change the face of Retail and Advertising

Sarmistha Banerjee, Head of Solutions, Appearition talks on AR in Retail & Advertising, brand building and the future of ads:

Retail is a very competitive industry. How can one survive the cut-throat competition? (Especially in today’s time when an idea/product can spread easily, how does one manage to retain the unique selling point?)

  • There is a big difference between shopping and buying. Pause and consider it. Shopping is largely “EXPERIENTIAL” whereas buying relates to a “TRANSACTION” activity.

For example, an online e-commerce transaction i.e. buying function is the end outcome of the in-store, online or personal browsing / shopping experience which can be tactile, fun, interactive or whatever. If retailers and marketers can hone in on this one thing: Moments that Matter, they are likely to generate a competitive edge over their competition by engaging customers in a meaningful way.

  • A cloud-based PoS and retail management platform for running retail business operations seems like a no- brainer. The system would allow tracking of sales and inventory, in real-time and enable that data to be used intelligently to make faster business decisions. For example: What product sells on a weekday / weekend or during seasonal /promotional events; there is no need to wait until end of day / month to determine what’s hot and what’s not. In a nutshell, the Sales Cycle becomes short and compressed; this leads to less wastage of resources.

Digital Transformation is the tech talk of the hour. How do you think retail sector is reacting to it? (Are they adopting, are they cautious etc)

  • Actually, Amazon has aced it. The rest are playing catch-up everywhere else. Balancing web-rooming and show-roomingis a journey for most retailers. This is highly dependent on the digital maturity of the business – how they overhaul and adapt their operations. Doing nothing will lead to inevitable demise.
  • For those who delve into luxe, integrating innovation, customer experience and brand value is synonymous. The “BRAND IS THE EXPERIENCE.”

Retail is largely a B2C industry. For those businesses supplying B2B2C, what are the challenges in supply-chain?

  • In retail, consumers on one side and providers/suppliers on the other (typical B2C) can be limiting. However, to achieve scale in a B2B2C scenario, the wholesaler must adopt business practices that connects them with multiple vendors seamlessly. Technology can therefore, be an enabler to build a retail centric ecosystem that leverages channels and community needs. With data intelligence, time to market and stocking products on shelves could be drastically reduced. B2B2C needs to compete hard for the ON-DEMAND economy and even capitalize on the SHARING ECONOMY.

How will AR/VR/MR help in branding and digital marketing?

    • The immersive / interactive mediums allow infinite possibilities to capture human attention and provide sensory experiences that are quite unique. We are only limited by our imagination as to how AR/VR/MR can exploit this technology medium to connect with customers in an intimate way with their psyche. First movers, and early adopters have obvious advantages if the marketing strategy is executed well.

In your opinion, how should one work towards audience engagement through advertisements?

    • Advertisements have become annoying and their messaging do not resonate with respective audiences any longer. That’s why people deploy Adbloc online in their browsers; people flick channels on television during Ad breaks; Print media needs innovation to keep up with new media ads; People are switching to paid streaming to avoid pop-up ads.

    Clearly, marketers need to engage people and brands differently which makes the products /services/information relevant for the consumer.

    Thus, advertising will become increasingly personalised in 2018. We’ve been on this trajectory for several years, but the use of audience data is now pervasive in all modes of digital advertising. In tandem with ad personalization, new interactive ad formats will aim to break through the noise and increase user engagement.

The Oodl story

Impressive Advertising is a leading advertising and branding enterprise, based out of Adelaide, Australia.  They produce print, online, video and audio advertisements and campaigns for their clients.

Advertisements are of many forms these days. From simple print ads to social media campaigns, there are plethora of brands targeting the consumers. However, today’s audience prefer more visuals, concise and innovative ads. An ad these days is not just consumed, but shared, liked and discussed about on social networking sites, more often than before. This form of ad consumption has paved way for more innovative presentation.

Adapting to changes in Digital Transformation has been the order of ad campaigns in the last decade. If everyone is doing the same, how does one stand out?

Met with one such need for innovation, Impressive Advertising decided to improvise using Augmented Reality (AR). The idea was to bring an image to life by augmenting it. Thereby, enabling the best of both mediums for a campaign – print and mobile.

Oodl it

Generally, while skimming through ads, extensions or teasers grabs one’s attention. Bearing that in mind, the team used Appearition’s 8AR platform to create an image recognition app called Oodl.

Oodl is an image recognition browser tool, delivering informative and relatable content embedded in everyday surroundings.

The Oodl app cloud technology allows one to visualise digital information in a completely new way, taking you from a one-dimensional experience into a whole new world of exciting discoveries.

A holistic AR experience

To build their audience engagement goals they have produced adverts that include AR experiences throughout, created full page Oodl experience newspaper adverts and produced promotional card campaigns to entice consumers to download the app.

These posters and ad campaigns contain the Oodl icon, which when scanned through the app projects augmented information.

AR allows us to create computer-generated enhancements in video or animation atop of existing reality which is very exciting, says Trevor Worley, Managing Director, Impressive Advertising.

The 8AR platform

8AR is a SaaS based platform, therefore is highly extensible and can be easily customized and monetized. It does not require any coding, making it easy for enterprise to augment.

Customer response

We expect Oodl to develop in AR as it has easier consumer reach, i.e. anyone with a smartphone, says the team.  The UI designed is simple and attractive. Upon logging in and scanning an object, there is an auto-pop video and further information that appear alongside.

Customer response to the Oodl AR/VR feature app has always been met with a ‘wow’ beams the team. “AR market is where we see Oodl developing as AR is less intrusive and is accessible to every person that has a smart phone. It allows us to create computer-generated enhancements in video or animation atop of existing reality which is very exciting,” adds Trevor.

As more and more media options developed, Impressive Advertising was looking to combine the best of all worlds and found the answer in AR.

 

Stand out with AR. Get in touch with us to know more about launching your own 8AR platform!