Is 2020 the Year of Augmented Reality?

Over the past two decades, the marketing landscape has shifted entirely. We’ve seen the introduction of SEO, search engine performance, and artificial intelligence with marketing tools and social media. Now, could we be just around the corner from the rise of augmented reality (AR)?

The Story of AR So Far

You may have seen this article title a few times in recent years, and this is because AR is expected to be the next big jump for marketers and businesses alike. Just like AI and other technologies, AR started as something reserved for the biggest names and the biggest budgets. Now, it’s something hard to ignore with the growing availability and the many ways we can integrate it into our marketing strategy. As we’re going to see later, AR is something Facebook has been investing in heavily.

From a small piece of the marketing puzzle, some estimates believe that by 2022, ads using AR will generate revenue of around $13 billion. Of all mobile ad revenue in that year, estimates say that AR ads will account for 12%. With this in mind, 2020 is expected to be the start of this. So, it’s essential that businesses keep AR in mind. If you can move early, there’s a chance to outshine competition and grow within a particular target market.

Important Notes

Thanks to a recent report from Business Insider, we can get a better look into this market and why 2020 could be the year that AR gains the most traction. For example, in 2018, mobile AR users doubled compared to the year before; with this, the total number surpassed the one billion mark for the first time. Of course, the best mobile AR experiences seem to be coming from the social media platforms.

If you’re wondering why you should invest in AR now, the report showed that consumers are now widely accepting AR as the next stage of transition for social media platforms. The brands who are adopting this technology early are enjoying the following two benefits:

  • Improved reach and exposure
  • Improved engagement with consumers

These benefits are going to grow considering that the technology surrounding AR is only set to improve in the coming months and years. As technology improves, AR usage will increase both inside social media and beyond.

How do you start to use AR in your marketing strategy? This is something we’re going to discover in the second half of this guide, but there are three main focal points for businesses thus far. Firstly, brands are implementing AR in order to boost consumer engagement. Secondly, brands want to increase exposure. Thirdly, both of these together should increase downloads and sales.

Facebook AR Adoption

If you advertise on Facebook, you’ve probably seen that AR solutions are now available with the global social media giant. Towards the end of 2019, it revealed that all marketers would have access through the Ad Manager. Thanks to the Spark AR engine from Facebook, we can use AR effects in any ad campaign. From here, we simply send the ads out through the targeting system as normal.

For those keeping up with Facebook and AR, you’ll know that it was actually introduced at the end of 2018. However, only a handful of brands were able to access the feature at that time. For example, you may have seen a Michael Kors ad where it was possible to ‘try on’ glasses from the News Feed. Using the camera on the device, users could try on different pairs of glasses virtually.

What does this mean for marketers and businesses? If you advertise on Facebook, the good news is that this is all hopefully leading in one direction: improving commerce on the platform. We assume Facebook is aiming to help marketers with their advertising efforts by allowing users to test products before buying. If you’re a furniture manufacturer, for example, you could use an AR ad where recipients test a sofa in their living room using the camera on their phone or tablet. If they like it, they’re more likely to click through and take their interest further. This technique is more likely to lead to clicks compared to just an image or standard ad.

As well as Facebook, it seems Instagram is also gearing up for AR ads. We saw the start of this with Nars Cosmetics and Ray-Ban. For the former, users could try makeup on their face using nothing but the camera on their phone. Again, for the marketer, exposure increases because who doesn’t have fun trying on glasses and testing makeup? As long as the recipient is in the target market, there’s going to be some level of interest. Therefore, this should hopefully boost conversion rates as more people are willing to go further.

Consumer and Marketing Growth — The Perfect Partnership

In the world of marketing, every action needs some form of validation. With AR, the reason platforms like Facebook are introducing the technology is because more consumers are embracing it. The more people start to explore AR, the less of a risk it becomes for both Facebook and the advertisers who utilize the technology.

If some estimates are to be believed, the number of people using AR at least once per month will reach 78 million by the end of 2020. This is an increase of just under 10 million compared to 2019 figures. As you can see, this is a significant increase, and one that will continue into 2021 and beyond.

With filters and all sorts of other features, Snapchat has been a clear leader in AR for some time. When Instagram built on this, it again catered to the younger market. On Instagram and Snapchat, over 60% of the user base are between the ages of 18 and 29. With this addition from Facebook, it’s the first time we’re seeing AR features available to an older market. In 2020, whether or not the year will get the title ‘the year of AR’ will likely depend on the receptiveness of the older generations on Facebook. If it gets the thumbs up, it will soon be a feature in marketing strategies all over the world.

In a recent survey, over half of people over the age of 65 said that they use Facebook. Similarly, nearly seven in ten people between 50 and 64 use the platform. Younger people are certainly more receptive to this form of technology, but could the popularity among older audiences actually sway results? If the experiment isn’t a success on Facebook, we could see AR remain within Snapchat, Instagram, and other platforms designed for a younger audience.

If you target a younger audience anyway, we highly recommend getting to grips with AR as soon as possible. In an eMarketer and Gfk survey, nearly half of those between 19 and 28 said that an AR or VR experience would encourage them to visit a physical store.

Planning an AR Campaign — Top Tips

Earlier, we mentioned starting to plan your AR campaigns and taking advantage of this new wave. If AR is the way forward for you, we have some advice.

  • Just because this is a new marketing technique, this doesn’t mean we abandon all the other marketing principles. For example, everything should start with a plan that lays out SMART objectives. What do you want to achieve with your AR campaign? How will you achieve it?
  • Next up, decide whether or not you need to hire help. While some will go at it alone, you might decide that you need an external service in order to achieve your creative brief.
  • We said that you can’t abandon all marketing principles… and this means knowing what to track in advance. Instead of getting excited about all the different statistics and data points, know the KPIs and metrics you want to track before you start. This way, you’ll know if the investment has brought a return…or not.
  • Remember the call to action and remember that people normally need something in return in order to engage with a brand. If you offer a voucher, special offer, product, or prize, results will improve very quickly.
  • Since AR is new, don’t be afraid to direct people and tell them what to do. Especially if you have an older target market. There’s nothing wrong with lending a helping hand! Normally, the best campaigns are the ones that explain how viewers can engage.

With this, keep all your other marketing principles in mind (like creating a message that will resonate) and have fun!

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