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How Brands Can Capture Attention With Augmented Reality

Brands need to consider the creation and consumption mindset of the consumers they’re targeting

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Author, Will Scougal

Augmented Reality (AR) technology is not the future, but the present. It is already being consumed at scale for both fun and practical applications and offers advertisers an unrivalled creative canvas with which to connect with Generation Z.

Marketers have long held the belief that attention is a diminishing commodity and the fleeting attention of Gen Z is a myth that needs to be dispelled. In actual fact, attention hasn’t diminished, it has diversified. People are choosing to spend time paying attention to content that engages them. Brands that are embracing this diversified attention with innovative thinking are being rewarded with people’s time.

People now choose to do so many other things than watch or engage with the content that’s presented in front of them in a traditional format. But the power of AR is that it is a format built on consumer choice. As a user, they have to choose to launch AR; they have to be willing to engage with the experience. Based on our own data, 70% of the 210 million users who use Snapchat daily spend three minutes a day playing with AR; because of the choices they’ve made to get to that moment, they’re arguably in a state of high intent and attention.

Why this matters to brands

So, how can brands start to think in AR and make the most of the time and attention it’s being given? While the canvas we work with and the experiences we create are exciting and new, the fundamentals have not changed. 

First of all, understand your objective. What do you want to achieve? Is this a brand campaign to drive awareness, a performance campaign to drive quality installs, or as something that has a bit of both?

Secondly, understand your audience. Brands need to consider the creation and consumption mindset of the consumers they’re targeting. A simple approach to this when it comes to designing the experience, is to think about the immediately recognisable elements of your brand and product and consider how can you incorporate them when people play with and explore the experience you offer.

Uniquely, part of the power of AR lies in its ability to allow the audience to personalise the narrative with ease. Where previously brand advocacy has been driven by social metrics such as likes and retweets, AR gives us the opportunity to create hyper-relevant, hyper-personalised content that Augmented Reality (AR), the technology that brings you Pokemon Go! and Snapchat Lenses has the potential of changing the rules of how we engage with consumers today. 

AR is being created and consumed at scale for both fun and practical applications. It offers advertisers an unrivalled creative canvas to not only connect with Generation Z – the generation with an increasing spending power – but also to capture their famously fleeting attention that features the audience themselves and is distributed by them within their own networks, which in turn makes it incredibly authentic. 

One overarching philosophy to consider when thinking in AR is the idea of contribution over disruption. For example, Grab may have disrupted the taxi industry, but for a consumer, it has made it easier for them to get from A to B, hence is seen a contribution to better their lives. In the same way consumers choose to use Grab or other ride-sharing platforms, they can choose to use AR to be informed and entertained, or to add a layer of creativity to a conversation, in any given moment. As consumers, if we feel disrupted in that moment, we are more likely to have a negative experience and will probably dismiss it. However, if presented with something that is not only engaging, but useful, we would be more willing to spend our time on it and share that experience with the people close to us. 

AR: New Advertising Frontier

As AR is adopted by more people, it will become an increasingly important tool in the marketing mix of advertisers. Indeed, in some respects, the camera itself should be considered a new channel. For example, when a Snapchatter launches an AR experience, they have made an active choice to play with AR. They have opened the app to the camera, possibly put their headphones in and scanned the world around them – these are three or four very considered and purposeful steps taken. From an intent and attention perspective, it’s an incredibly unique opportunity for marketers. 

We are only at the beginning of what is possible. As we move to having more AR-enabled features within reach, recognising and interacting with more real-world objects, such as we see with Landmarkers feature within Snapchat, advertisers would need to view the camera as a permanent addition to their media plan and not merely a novelty. 

 AR is set to transform the ad industry in the same way TV advertising did in the 1950s. No one watching the first TV advert in 1941 – a short and uninspiring spot for Bulova Watch Co – could have had any idea they were watching the dawn of a revolutionary new era of advertising. The same could be said of today’s rapidly growing number of AR users. More and more people are paying attention to AR. Are you?

Will Scougal, Director, Creative Strategy, Snap Inc.

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