Finweek English Edition - - INSIGHT - AS VO­RA­CIOUS CON­SUMERS

DIG­I­TAL MAKEOVER Put sim­ply, AR is an emerg­ing tech­nol­ogy that en­hances the ‘real world’ with a dig­i­tal over­lay – usu­ally viewed via a smart­phone app or tablet. Through the cam­era and sen­sors in a mo­bile de­vice, AR adds in­ter­est­ing lay­ers of dig­i­tal in­for­ma­tion – videos, pho­tos, sounds – di­rectly on top of real-world items.

Diane Char­ton, MD of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing school Red & Yel­low, be­lieves that pub­lish­ers, for one, could im­prove their prod­ucts by in­te­grat­ing them with dig­i­tal ex­pe­ri­ences and in­ter­ac­tive con­tent us­ing AR. She says that new ad­ver­tis­ing op­tions could also be pre­sented to

of (mostly) dig­i­tal con­tent, the way that we ab­sorb and process in­for­ma­tion has changed. Not only do we want to learn, but we also want to en­gage and in­ter­act. This has, for the most part, pre­sented a mas­sive chal­lenge for ad­ver­tis­ers and mar­keters, who are used to be­ing able to sim­ply pack­age and place con­tent in front of the right eye­balls, via the right medium, at the right time – and reap healthy re­wards.

Print pub­lish­ers are in a sim­i­lar bind as they strug­gle to re­tain read­ers who are be­ing in­creas­ingly drawn to more dy­namic and com­pelling dig­i­tal plat­forms, and what the gu­rus call the “sec­ond screen”. There is no straight­for­ward so­lu­tion, but one of the tools that mar­keters, ad­ver­tis­ers and pub­lish­ers are ea­gerly ex­plor­ing is aug­mented re­al­ity (AR) – which has the po­ten­tial to bring much-needed in­no­va­tion into worlds that are still stuck in two di­men­sions. pub­lish­ing clients – “ones that are more im­mer­sive and tan­gi­ble than static print ads”, for ex­am­ple.

While she points out that AR has been around for sev­eral years, lo­cal use has been lim­ited to Quick Re­sponse (QR) codes that South African pub­li­ca­tions and brands have used with vary­ing lev­els of suc­cess.

“But the big change we have seen in the mar­ket is that the tech­nol­ogy has be­come cheaper and eas­ier to use,” Char­ton ex­plains. “So­lu­tions such as La­yar, for ex­am­ple, make it sim­ple for pub­lish­ers to cre­ate aug­mented re­al­ity ex­pe­ri­ences with­out hir­ing de­vel­op­ers, in­stalling soft­ware, or buy­ing ex­pen­sive so­lu­tions.” The pop­u­lar La­yar app al­lows pub­lish­ers and brands to build their own AR and in­ter­ac­tive print cam­paigns, and La­yar down­loads cur­rently sit at over 40m across 200 coun­tries. Ac­cord­ing to La­yar Cer­ti­fied Part­ner, Dig­i­tal Nar­ra­tive, there has been a sig­nif­i­cant up­take in the SA mar­ket, with 25% growth in La­yar app down­loads in 2014. AR 2.0 Ja­son Ried, MD of Fuzzy Logic, a lo­cal de­vel­oper of games, aug­mented re­al­ity and apps, has ob­served a sim­i­lar trend – not­ing that there is grow­ing in­ter­est in AR tech­nol­ogy, and more so­phis­ti­cated ap­pli­ca­tions be­ing im­ple­mented.

“Peo­ple are start­ing to see that the de­vices to sup­port the tech are now read­ily avail­able, and the users are in­ter­ested in see­ing use­ful AR cam­paigns,” he ex­plains. “AR is start­ing to get over the gim­mick phase where peo­ple sim­ply want to ac­ti­vate their logo, for ex­am­ple, and cus­tomers are now ask­ing for in­no­va­tive and use­ful ex­pe­ri­ences to be cre­ated.”

He adds that while AR 1.0 wasn’t great (a phase of QR codes and logo ac­ti­va­tion), they’re al­ready onto AR 2.0, and “be­ing part of AR puts you in a po­si­tion to do as yet un­heard of things”. For strug­gling pub­lish­ers and frus­trated mar­keters, the ar­rival of AR 2.0 should come as good news.

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