Last month, we delivered our first Digital Catapult NETV Immersive for Brands Spotlight event which focused on helping brands explore how immersive technologies can be used to engage new audiences and deliver better brand experiences.

Four leading North East organisations shared insights of how immersive could work for brands. In this blog, we outline our key takeaways.

Interested in watching the full spotlight? The recording is available on our YouTube.

Aircards: Marketing Use Cases for AR

Aircards kicked off the event with examples of how marketers can deploy augmented reality campaigns. Use cases include:

  • Outdoor advertising: "AR is the new OOH". When choosing a location for your AR experience,  pick a spot where people are likely to be stationary for a period of time, such as a train station. AR can provide a welcome and fun break from the wait.
  • Print marketing: AR can help brands add a level of interactivity to a leaflet or business card. An example of this is Aircard’s work with investment advisers, Motley Fool. Using AR, Motley's leaflet asked viewers what they would like to do more of; relax on a beach, play golf, or explore the mountains. The AR experience would then take the user to that experience, featuring the strapline that Motley can “help take you here”. 
  • Product packaging: AR can help you bring a product to life, encouraging purchases and social sharing. You could use AR to tell a story (e.g. do you have an interesting production process?), provide handy tips (such as a recipe), and to introduce an element of gamification. 
  • Online deployment: Online deployment is increasingly popular among brands, as AR can give customers the ability to view a product in 3D in their own home environment. 

In terms of deployment, AR can be activated in different ways: via QR code, an ‘NFC’ chip (a chip that is automatically recognised by modern devices), or via web links. It can be integrated within a website or used as a 'standalone', all with in-build analytics.

Curious about Aircards? Visit its website at https://www.aircards.co/.

Animmersion: The Immersive Process

While both AR and VR experiences can help build user engagement, it's important that users are firstly educated about the use of these technologies and are able to interact with them intuitively.

Building user familiarity could start with revisiting the foundations of immersive technologies, which primarily involves 3D models. Using 3D models is a great first step to adopting immersive technologies as these models don't rely on advanced kit such as headsets, but still add a level of interactivity and immersion to existing channels. While the level of interactivity with 3D models is limited, these models can still improve engagement and inform purchasing decisions.

Furthermore, 3D models can easily be integrated into immersive environments when brands feel ready to transition into immersive technology.

Transitioning into Immersive

This transition into immersive technologies is becoming ever more important. The coronavirus pandemic has presented a challenge for organisations to adapt their marketing and communications strategies and find new ways to sell face-to-face. This challenge isn't short-term, as “nonessential travel” is going to become a permanent part of the workplace.

Animmersion's solution to this is its own VIE platform. VIE offers brands customisable, fully interactive virtual meeting spaces that can load any brand assets. At the spotlight event, Animmersion showcased an interactive virtual booth which featured a full suite of brand assets, including viewable PDF brochures and a video gallery featured on an in-booth 'video wall'. Customers were in full control and could explore the booth in first or third person. Furthermore, a brand representative was on-site to talk customers through the products, powered with the ability to 'conjure up' any additional 3D assets or products.

Curious about Animmersion? Visit its website here: https://www.animmersion.co.uk/

Fuzzy Logic: Driving Tangible ROI with AR

Fuzzy Logic further delved into some of the considerations and benefits of using AR. Using its extensive experience in developing AR applications, Fuzzy Logic demonstrated the tangible outcomes that AR can deliver, which includes increased dwell times, engagement rates and reduced costs. Analysing these levels of ROI, Fuzzy Logic predicted that AR's relevancy to marketing is only going to grow.

Benefits that AR can provide include:

  • Efficient localisation: Users can change the language of AR collateral with the tap of a finger. This means that digital assets such as flyers and brochures can be widely distributed without the need for printing in different languages.
  • Gamification: The use of gamification in immersive technology is well documented, and for good reason. Analytics indicate that incorporating elements of gamification into AR experiences lead to greater dwell times.
  • Greater conversions: Clear Call To Action buttons in AR experiences significantly increase conversion rates, as conversion follows immediate positive conditioning. CTA can range from direct product purchases to newsletter subscriptions and more.
  • Customisation: AR experiences allow for unique customisation, which means that customers are less likely to browse at competitors. They've gone through the process of customising a product with you; changing its colour and adding features in AR. Now they want exactly what they created. 
  • Effective across all parts of the customer journey. While AR is typically associated as a touch point prior to product purchase, it can also play an effective role in customer retention and service provision. For example, AR could help walk customers through product assembly and provide tips on maintenance or product use.

Curious about Fuzzy Logic? Visit its website: https://www.fuzzylogicstudio.io/

MAADigital: Customer Experience at the front of AR

There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to AR. Effective AR experiences should align with company objectives and suit the target audience. MAADigital shared three AR case studies which each embedded a different technology targeted at a different audience.

GEON: Winged Tales of the North. This project engaged members of the public with the winged tales story, which enabled users to take selfies with customisable wings. To achieve this, MAADigital blended two technologies using green screen pop-ups around the city. This experience felt intuitive to members of the public, who were already familiar with selfies and photo filters. By enabling people to take photos of themselves with a customised element of augmentation, such as wings, the experience was widely shared on social media and helped users feel more positively about the winged tales story.

Siemens: This project helped SIEMENS staff make better decisions regarding energy efficiency across the campus. To better understand the audience, MAADigital conducted research on how staff interacted with 3D environments. The company quickly realised that, in this scenario, the AR experience had to look like the real thing. "The detail is important for people to gel with."

MAADigital used drones to map out the Siemens campus in 3D. To further make the experience intuitive, MAADigital knew it had to give users guidance on what objects could or couldn't be interacted with in AR. It implemented virtual location tracking technology to ensure interactive objects would ‘light up’ when users were nearby.

Siemens Life of Charles William Siemens: In this project, MAADigital helped Siemens use AR to improve both external and internal communications. The experience focused on celebrating the life of Charles William Siemens who grew the Siemens brand in the UK. The AR animation was developed using motion capture technology in order to help bring the characters to life, and used outfits from the same era.

Curious about MAADigital? Visit its website: https://www.maadigital.co.uk/

Watch the full video

You can watch the full Immersive for Brands Spotlight video on YouTube to learn more about how immersive technologies can support branding. The video also features a Q&A panel covering topics such as “common mistakes brand marketers are making when exploring immersive tech.”