By now most everyone is familiar with augmented reality (AR) in try on and try out applications as well as with its use of data tags and overlays that pop up over virtual and real objects, providing details and actions. Any one can see real and virtual items at the same time whether on a smartphone, with glasses, or googles.
Today, many brands are interested in using or are already starting to use AR for marketing in the metaverse. Online stores today use AR-based product visualizations that deliver interactive product experiences that connect with customers on an emotional level and potential customers can use the technology to check out products from practically any location. For businesses, moving augmented reality from online shopping to the metaverse may be the incentive needed to move AR-based marketing to the masses.
Augmented Reality in ecommerce
Most people have already experienced AR technology through a smartphone app with over 50% of smartphone owners claiming to have already used AR apps when shopping.
In this post we will define and focus on augmented reality as a virtual interactive experience of a real-world environment where real objects are enhanced by digitalized perceptual information, and virtual objects can also appear within the real-world environment.
AR enables brands to create an online store where shoppers can move around and interact with virtual and real objects. For marketers, AI enables the creation of new advertising and product interaction experiences such as virtual storefronts, signs and billboards that are visible to all who are within a defined area of the metaverse.
Why Augmented Reality?
When using augmented reality the real world becomes metaverse-enhanced and doesn’t require people to leave reality to visit. That’s a key reason why AR and its blended real world and virtual world experience will likely become a part of our own world.
The viewing experience is also more relaxed and more palatable to most people than say a VR experience as there are few people who are willing to stare for hours at screens a half-inch from their eyes and remain detached from the world around them.
Metaverse AR worlds include radically different elements from those in real life. These AR worlds have persistence and immersion and give one a sense of presence. The view is a first-person perspective with a few differences available for personal preference, however, by and large what one person sees and experiences all others do as well. Being cut off from our surroundings and unable to see or hear is considered by most as being unnatural, dangerous, and disconcerting.
AR enables users to see and remain a part of their surroundings rather than cutting them off entirely and an AR user experiencing the metaverse can still see others in the room and be aware of when someone is nearby.
AR as a Marketing Tool
In order for there to be an effective AR-based marketing campaign, there must be an audience to which to market. Today you may not know anyone that regularly spends time in the metaverse or perhaps you know someone that spends a regular amount of time in a metaverse wearing AR glasses or using an AR app. Looking ahead we expect that most people will experience AR and the metaverse.
This doesn’t mean that brands should wait for broad adoption of AR as now is the time to start preparing for emerging marketing trends in the current environment and in the metaverse.
Businesses and marketers need to study the trends of the metaverse now so they don’t find themselves left behind when the technology is mainstream. The initial interest in the metaverse reveals a major opportunity for brands to start experimenting with sales and marketing strategies.
The widespread use of AR is here and now as the hardware has now become technologically advanced and low enough in cost to be adopted by a mass market. Widespread adoption will largely depend on whether there are enough easily identifiable use cases for AR.
AR has the potential to enable marketers to position their products in the best light possible, as it enables marketers to provide a narrative of their products in real-life and allows customers to experience this reality.
When used properly, AR is a powerful tool for businesses and marketers as it allows customers to experience products in a variety of use cases that may not be immediately obvious and it gives them the freedom of how to engage with a brand.
AR in the Metaverse
Consumers have high expectations for brand experiences in the metaverse and they expect to be receiving more dynamic, enriching product information in this new environment. The brands that will win out are those that are willing to try out the technology now, so they can deliver positive experiences when consumers start rushing to join. The biggest advantage of using AR is that it opens up a world of possibilities that don’t exist in real life and it is available to use now.
A consumer can create virtual artwork that appears on the wall or ceiling, and may be animated or continually changing and is always available for anyone with AR glasses to see and engage.
For those skittish about needles perhaps virtual tattoos will be more to their liking and yes, they may be animated. As consumers walk down a store aisle, they may look at a product to see an AR enabled product descriptions, pricing, available accessories, and so forth.In your home, instead of sitting in a particular room with a TV, one could sit anywhere, indoors or outdoors, to watch a movie on a wall-sized screen. When working on your car, you could look at the area being worked on to see a schematic overlay. For almost any item a person can purchase, they can use AR to view it in their home or on their body.
This metaverse vision is about being in real places where mixed reality glasses can reveal otherwise invisible digital layers. For businesses, marketers and advertisers, these types of scenarios present opportunities to interact with prospects and customers.
Currently, many brands use augmented reality to enhance their marketing efforts through the use of AR-enhanced mobile apps that allows potential customers to try out clothing, makeup and hairstyles on themselves or see a piece of furniture in their own homes.
Many consumers have stated that they prefer shopping online over in person, however, there is an element missing from much of today’s online shopping and that is the act of trying on, and interacting with a product before you buy it. AR allows consumers to experience and interact with a product before purchasing it, creating a strong bond between the buyer and the product. Consumers can do that today with current AR experiences and that capability will become even more rich in the metaverse.
In stores, retail spaces, online and in the metaverse, shoppers can use virtual try-on filters to simulate how they might look any type of apparel (hats, shoes, watches and jewelry) without visiting a store. This allows users to purchase with confidence, leading to greater customer satisfaction and far fewer returns and exchanges. The same principles can also be applied to furniture, automobiles, electronics, appliances, testing out the product or seeing how it looks or will fit in your home.
Augmented reality can radically change how we view the world around us. The full potential of AR is staggering and, when combined with the metaverse, offers unlimited opportunities for marketers to take advantage of its unique properties.
The broader metaverse has the potential to impact the world of marketing because it is not limited to a singular big tech or gaming platform nor is it reliant on proximity or attachment to a computer. It is inclusive of every connected place, person, device and space.
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