What the surge in use of AR/VR means for brands & digital advertising
With technology further entrenching itself in all aspects of brand communication, marketers are waking up to the new reality of operating in and adopting tools like Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and programmatic marketing.
But what does it entail for brands? How will it impact digital marketing and advertising in the times to come? How can brands best adopt these tools?
Adgully spoke to a cross-section of digital experts to find out more, as it gears up for the second edition of its annual property – DIGIXX 2018.
“In e-commerce, AR/VR has so far been used to showcase products in a way which isn’t possible with just the Internet,” said Anand Bhaskaran, Manager, Digital Marketing, bigbasket.com. He cited examples of how AR/VR has been used to show how a sofa or wardrobe looks in a customer’s home or how an apparel looks on a customer. He added, “I expect this trend to continue, with AR/VR being used to showcase more product categories. For example, it is possible that in the next few years, before planning a vacation, people could virtually ‘visit’ a few options before deciding on their final choices. Or test driving multiple cars virtually before zeroing in on 2-3 options. In general, customers could ‘try’ experiences before choosing them. Some of these may take more than 2-3 years to happen, but they should happen eventually.”
“I think the way advertising will happen on AR/VR is as follows: some movies or TV shows (in general entertainment) will move to the AR/VR arena, and brands will figure out a way to integrate into these experiences. Or, exactly like with TV, you might have ad-sponsored shows with the ads themselves being AR/VR experiences. I’m not sure how it will pan out nor when this will happen, but there are exciting times ahead,” he enthused.
According to Bhaskaran, another exciting trend is the use of AI and machine learning in various aspects of marketing. Citing the example of Bigbasket, he said that the online grocery portal is increasingly using campaign management tools that use machine learning to optimise campaigns. “We also think there’s a lot of scope to use machine learning to improve our popular SmartBasket technology, which recommends products to our customers. The applications are quite endless,” he added.
In a similar vein, Rubeena Singh, CEO, iProspect India, too, believes machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will both be eagerly embraced in 2018 as a way of helping marketers leverage data more effectively, allowing them to make better decisions through processing bigger data sets and deliver personalised content at scale.
“Advances in machine learning will allow for greater effectiveness and efficiency in marketing communications, allowing both marketers and agencies to focus on adding strategic value, whilst allowing machines to take on more of the more complex administrative tasks associated with digital optimisation. The greatest success will be delivered by those brands who invest in the future, effectively leveraging the strength of their human strategic capital to create the new machine rules. Savvy marketers will, therefore, increasingly need to understand how to balance the Human v/s Machine elements of their business to ensure they leverage the true value of both. After all, the machines will only ever be as good as the human strategists in the background who set the direction of travel, develop the strategy, and feed the machine with data and hypotheses, testing new variables and applying learnings as appropriate,” Singh further said.
Both virtual and augmented reality were first used for gaming, but now marketers are seeing an untapped potential to connect with audiences who use these platforms and the industry is poised for a huge transition and opportunity to reshape digital advertising experiences, though still very nascent in India.
According to Hemant Jain, Senior Executive VP – Lokmat Media and Business Head, ClickStart, “Unlike virtual reality, which creates a completely immersive environment for the user, AR manages to integrate digital information into the user’s real life. Think of the millions of players who spent over $1 billion collecting Pokémon Go eggs on their phones, it is apparent Augmented Reality (AR) is going to have a large influence on digital advertising. It is going to change the way the always-connected consumer works, shops and plays. AR has empowered the consumer with the ability to make efficient and comfortable buying decisions and thereby, opens up an entirely new way for brands to contextually advertise in a new form and seamlessly transit from content to commerce.”
Jain also feels that AR-based gamification will become an integral part of the digital advertising plan in future. Ad funded content will become an integral part of the consumers buying journey cycle, both online and offline and will have the biggest influence on the retail industry. Melding together traditional forms of advertising (Print, Outdoor, POS etc) with augmented reality will bring the synergy of a brand’s voice turning one channel into many.
VR and AR will have a significant effect on the growth of programmatic. All of the benefits of programmatic are based on data. To get programmatic to grow, it needs more data. “With VR, you have more real estate and thus more data points to measure and ways to engage a user to see more products, options, etc. without having to click through [on an ad to go to another site]. It will also helps sustain interactivity and the ability to add more touch points and keep gathering data, and create new data points like eye tracking to improve targeting and customize the user experience,” Jain added.
Listing the three ways in which AR/VR will impact the digital advertising space, Rajiv Dingra, Founder & CEO, WATConsult, noted, “It will drive the convergence of digital and outdoor activations. It will also help in marketers thinking beyond the regular launches for their product and use AR/VR as an experiential tool. Another impact will be in driving investments in owner IP or platform that uses AR or VR by brands.”
Asher further said, “Hyperlocal advertising will see a surge. As AR/VR takes off, brands will be able to create interactive hyperlocal advertising and build relevant context.” “Experiences will replace advertising with AR/VR. Like the Ikea ARKit app, we will see more brands creating experiences rather than advertising,” he concluded.