Recently, consumers who purchased Wonder Woman on Blu-ray or DVD were treated with a bonus augmented reality (AR) experience. All they had to do was download an app from DC Comics, load up the AR feature, and scan their movie cases to access images such as Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth, sword, or shield which they could overlay onto their phone’s camera. This type of AR experience, while seemingly simple, is becoming more widespread in the video marketing and mobile video worlds.
Since mid-2016, video marketers couldn’t seem to talk about anything but virtual reality  (VR). But now AR has taken over the conversation, thanks to continued adoption and innovation in that field. For example, Snapchat and Instagram have been on the forefront of augmented reality features for a while now, allowing users to include 3D Bitmojis and AR overlays in their images and videos. And just earlier this year, Facebook launched an AR studio for developers and brands looking to create their own camera effects.
Essentially, augmented reality holds much promise for the future of video marketing. Here’s how brands can take advantage of this potential.
What AR Offers Video Marketers
The appeal of augmented reality for both consumers and video marketers is, simply put, the technology’s ability to provide a customized, interactive experience for brands’ consumers. This benefit is especially important to millennials and digitally-savvy younger consumers, who value experiences like luxury items and want to use the latest technology to communicate with others.
“Experiences are the best ways to engage this new generation of consumers and transform them into brand advocates,” said Ashley Crowder, CEO and co-founder of augmented reality and hologram company VNTANA . “So if you could create a fun, memorable experience around your brand, that consumer is going to remember it and hold onto that. It will be something that they will share with their friends or share on their social media.” Overall, Crowder said this experiential marketing is “much more impactful than a banner ad that they’re looking at.”
Jon Cheney, CEO of augmented reality content sharing app Seek , agrees with Crowder’s assessment of the value of AR. “Higher levels of interaction will naturally be more engaging,” he said. “People remember what they do far more than what they just see. If interaction comes after getting excited through a cool video, consumers will have far better recollection of products’ selling points.”
Additionally, Cheney noted that since AR is more accessible and requires less hardware investment than technologies like VR, “the content created for AR will grow much, much quicker because of the easy adoption.”
“AR also has far broader application, from entertainment, to shopping, to training, to even manufacturing and factory work,” Cheney said. “Virtually every single industry can benefit from AR, and the same does not apply to VR.”
How Augmented Reality Works in Video Marketing
Augmented reality is an incredibly powerful tool for brands looking to improve their video marketing game, especially when implemented in settings with large groups of people or made shareable on social media. In Crowder’s experience in particular, AR has proven results which convert directly to more brand awareness and sales. She provided the example of Lexus, which has used AR activations in its marketing campaigns with considerable success. The automotive brand has more than doubled its qualified leads by using AR technology and tracking data points such as age, gender, and even in-person facial reactions and sentiments.
“I know you’re happier looking at a blue car than a red car so we can use that to track product preference, as well,” Crowder explained.
“When you’re looking to spend your dollars and engage consumers, you want numbers,” Crowder added. “AR is great for getting groups of people engaged together; it’s also a very shareable piece of content so you get people sharing on social media and that user-generated content is so valuable. It’s 50 percent more trusted and 20 percent more likely to lead to a sale than other types of digital advertising, so that’s why we see AR being the best way to advertise.”
How Video Marketers Can Adopt Augmented Reality
While AR might be more accessible on the consumer end, the technology to create augmented reality experiences is currently limited to a specialized few. Video marketers interested in integrating AR content into their campaigns will have to be willing to work with outside technology companies or start dedicating more resources to developing augmented reality internally.
“AR is not something that can just be created by anyone,” Cheney said. “It will require partnerships with AR content creation companies, of which there are about a dozen right now that are any good.” If video marketers take this route, they should look for technology companies which are not only able to create high-quality AR content, but are also capable of tracking data vital to the analysis and interpretation of video campaigns, such as user actions and demographics. Some companies are even able to offer artificial intelligence solutions to enhance AR content campaigns.
For brands serious about investing in the future of AR, Cheney also suggested hiring new team members to focus solely on the creation and distribution of AR content. He believes more tools and software will appear on the market over the next few years to make this task easier for brands to perform in-house. Additionally, video marketers may already have more material on hand to help create AR content than they realize.
“There could be some assets you’ve already created that you could use with augmented reality,” explained Crowder. “Anything with FBX files, 3D models of products, all those [things] that you might be creating for your videos could be used to create AR. It’s not necessarily having to create something from scratch; it’s creating something that ties in with your campaign in a cohesive way.”
This AR adoption route is a more long-term investment which not all video marketers may be willing or able to do. In this case, outsourcing AR content development to technology platforms and companies who specialize in AR is a good solution on the road to creating a more customized, engaging video experience for consumers.