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Merging Marketing and Utility can Make AR a Success for Brands says Oath’s RYOT Lab’s Zeda Stone

Tim Cross  29 January, 2018

While augmented reality (AR) has had some one off hits like Pokemon Go and Snapchat filters, it remains to be seen whether the tech is more than a passing fad. Opinion is split on whether AR will ever really take off, but Zeda Stone, head of Oath’s AR/VR studio RYOT Lab, believes it is here to stay, and can provide real value for brands. Here Stone tells VAN where Oath thinks there are opportunities in AR, and why it’s important for brands to ensure their AR ads provide real utility to customers.

At this moment in time is AR just a gimmick, or is AR working at scale yet today?
AR isn’t just for face filters and dancing cartoons anymore. There is very real value to be derived from the format and we’re now at a point where marketers and brands can start to think about investing resources to exploit these new possibilities. At its core, the technology is more than just a platform to consume games in a real world setting; it’s an advertising tool, a utility and most importantly, it’s a storytelling tool. RYOT Studio, Oath’s creative studio, recently compiled data on the consumer and brand adoption of AR and found that there’s been a 33 percent growth in brand interest in AR advertising.

To meet that demand, we have created Oath’s four new ad experiences which we think will bring a different and exciting perspective to advertisers and consumers this year. Additionally, interest in AR advertising has grown significantly since the launch of Apple’s ARKit last year. We’re already working with big brands like The Home Depot and Pottery Barn to launch AR mobile ad units that really do push creative boundaries and engage consumers in novel ways.

What is AR penetration like at the moment in terms of AR compatible smartphones?
Device compatibility is continuing to rise with Apple leading the charge in market penetration. Google is making large strides toward market penetration as well and we foresee there being a significant amount of devices capable of AR by the end of the year on both iOS and Android.

360 video seems to have fallen off the radar a bit, are we in a trough of disillusionment or was 360 video just a passing fad?
2016 was really the year we saw 360 video take off, and while it’s continuing to become more popular, we’re now also seeing the rise of other compelling emerging formats. Marketers are now faced with creative decisions around what the best format to deliver their message is versus having only one immersive solution. Whether it’s 360 video, VR or AR, each experience brings a unique perspective and a new way for people to explore and engage with the content.

How do you measure success with AR campaigns?
In addition to the standard metrics that are already available, such as views and click-throughs, advertisers will now have access to analytics from the actual AR experience — i.e., did the viewer spin the product or look at all three shoes available in the experience? And of course, there’s always reach and engagement. Acura for example, reached over of 3.5 million people through a live stream of an AR-equipped driving event. Brands can create captivating and memorable experiences that leave a lasting impression on audiences and draw in more people than ever before — all while seeing tangible KPI-tied results.

What type of AR experiences are delivering the most impact for brands at the moment?
We are consistently seeing a trend toward the merging of marketing and utility. IKEA AR, as an example, delivers a marketing message about its products and simultaneously provides a utility for consumers to place furniture virtually in their home. Consumers want meaningful experiences and innovative storytelling. What will succeed in the long run are AR experiences that enable brands to tell a deeper narrative to consumers, thereby allowing them to be immersed in meaningful ways.

If/when AR becomes more established, will AR marketing be focussed on creating branded experiences, or inserting ads into other AR content? Might the novelty factor of AR wear off, meaning brands can’t rely on the ‘wow’ factor of AR to pull customers into their own experiences?
Much like any other format, you will find a combination of both. If as a marketer you are pairing quality creative with utility and driving value to the end consumer, the ‘wow’ factor is neither what you are pursuing nor is it a fear that should be factored into your decision making. Our suggestion to clients is always to identify the story first then, and only then, determine what is the best technology available to convey it. Utilizing different platforms, technology and continuing to innovate in your storytelling will keep immersive formats new and fresh for customers and brands alike.

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