Is augmented reality now a marketing channel?

With the dust now set­tling after the mete­oric rise of app phe­nom­e­non, Poké­mon Go, is it time mar­keters start­ed pay­ing seri­ous thought to aug­ment­ed real­i­ty as a mar­ket­ing chan­nel?

Robert White By Robert White from MRS Digital. Join the discussion » 2 comments

On the news that earth­quake dam­aged pre­fec­tures of Japan have teamed up with devel­op­ers Niantic in a bid to use Poké­mon Go to regen­er­ate the area, it’s clear the aug­ment­ed real­i­ty app has a great deal of poten­tial in dri­ving con­sumer expe­ri­ences. Here’s the low-down on how and why aug­ment­ed real­i­ty could be imple­ment­ed by brands in the not-so-dis­tant future.


In case you’ve been liv­ing in a cave on Mars with your fin­gers in your ears for the past cou­ple of months, aug­ment­ed real­i­ty games (ARGs) are very much in the lime­light. Poké­mon Go has tak­en the world by storm, quick­ly sur­pass­ing the num­ber of users on Tin­der and Snapchat. The app is blaz­ing a trail in cap­tur­ing people’s imag­i­na­tions with the pos­si­bil­i­ties of aug­ment­ed real­i­ty.

Yes, aug­ment­ed real­i­ty has been around for years, and yes, tech­ni­cal­ly, Poké­mon Go is just a geo­t­ag­ging app with a nice look­ing skin on it. But with tens of mil­lions of active users in its first week alone, you can’t ignore the impact the app is hav­ing.

So, what oppor­tu­ni­ties are there for adver­tis­ers with the rise of aug­ment­ed real­i­ty expe­ri­ences?

Brand new consumer experiences

In a world where we are bom­bard­ed by adver­tis­ing 24/7, mar­keters need a way to stand out in the crowd. Great ad copy and a com­pre­hen­sive through-the-line mar­ket­ing cam­paign can be great, but not enough to stand out. Con­tent mar­ket­ing is pop­u­lar too. Blogs and gat­ed con­tent all play an impor­tant role too, but con­sumers are being more and more apa­thet­ic to typ­i­cal online mar­ket­ing.

The best way to reach peo­ple today is through mean­ing­ful expe­ri­ences. ARGs give peo­ple the oppor­tu­ni­ty to have a unique expe­ri­ence in a way that requires noth­ing more than the device they use every day: their smart­phone. ARGs allow cus­tomers to become immersed in your world. You can take them on a brand new con­sumer expe­ri­ence with very lit­tle bar­ri­er to entry. A great exam­ple of this is how Star­bucks pro­mot­ed their Christ­mas cups:

One of the ini­tial ideas behind Google Glass was that with the rise of wear­ables tech, rather than car­ry­ing out a Google search for a prod­uct or restau­rant or any­thing else, users could just look around at a near­by brand logo and be giv­en infor­ma­tion there and then. It won’t nec­es­sar­i­ly be long before a logo won’t just be a sym­bol of brand val­ues, but a direc­to­ry of open­ing hours and an ad-board show­ing the lat­est deals

Branded partnerships

Poké­mon Go is blaz­ing a trail in this direc­tion with its busi­ness strat­e­gy. John Han­ke, chief exec­u­tive of Niantic, who devel­oped Poké­mon Go in part­ner­ship with Nin­ten­do, said “spon­sored loca­tions” would pro­vide a new rev­enue stream, in addi­tion to in-app pur­chas­es of pow­er-ups and vir­tu­al items.

McDonald’s was the first com­pa­ny to make a deal with Niantic. Every McDonald’s restau­rant will be a PokéStop or gym, attract­ing play­ers to the Gold­en Arch­es. Com­pa­nies are being encour­aged to pay for their loca­tions to appear on the vir­tu­al map in order to increase foot­fall and dri­ve mar­ket­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties. They will be charged on a “cost per vis­it” basis, sim­i­lar to Google’s “cost per click” mod­el.

Aug­ment­ed Real­i­ty allows brands to give con­sumers amaz­ing expe­ri­ences that reach right into their very lives. This tech­nol­o­gy allows mar­keters to take peo­ple on a jour­ney that tran­scends web­sites, ebooks, and email mar­ket­ing, to the very heart of your brand val­ues, mak­ing a last­ing impres­sion that they’ll love to share.

Robert White

Written by Robert White

Content Writer, MRS Digital

Robert White is a content writer at MRS Digital. He splits his time between professional copywriting, narrative design and dungeon mastery.

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