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.