Let’s See: Augmented Reality Making its Mark on Advertising

augmented reality

AR (Augmented Reality) is really beginning to gain traction for marketers, who previously considered the technology just an enhancement for children’s games. But the technology is advancing so quickly—think wearable tech—that savvy marketers are beginning to realize the potential of AR advertising to engage consumers like never before.

Simply, AR works when users point their smartphones or tablets at specific objects, anything from a magazine ad to a store window, a soda can to a billboard. Then, the magic happens. Immersive, engaging, and, advertisers hope, unforgettable, 3D technology is activated. The AR images can’t be seen with the naked eye, only on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. You’re already familiar with the technology if you’ve ever watched a football broadcast: those yellow lines that indicate the downs are obviously not painted on the field; they’re incorporated into your TV viewing experience.


Big brands like Pepsi, Land Rover, American Apparel, and IKEA, are really ramping up their AR budgets, in an effort to reach the nearly half of Americans who own smartphones. AR offers the chance for brands to connect with and engage consumers before, during, and after purchase, in a truly innovative way that, when done right, can feel very personal.

Obviously appealing to young, tech-savvy consumers, who are cynical at best toward traditional advertising, AR blurs lines by creating a digital layer over the real world. But the immersive, sensory experience of AR certainly appeals to people of all ages, with technology that comes alive in your hands. It helps tell a story, and forges an emotional connection with consumers.

Marketers across industries—travel, technology, CPG, retail, automotive, fashion and beauty, jewelry, and more—are recognizing the benefits, including affordability, of incorporating AR components into their digital and print campaigns. Imagine sitting on your couch and holding your phone over your wrist to see how different watch styles look on you!

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When it’s done well, it’s easy to see how an AR campaign can create buzz and brand desire, and boost brand recall and awareness through increased consumer engagement. And regarding its relationship with social media, AR is meant to be shared.


Check out Pepsi’s incredible AR bus stop ad (link)

Pepsi Max outfitted a busy London bus stop with cutting-edge AR graphics, creating an impossible-to-ignore experience for anyone lucky enough to be waiting for the bus. Note all the people using their smartphones to record and, presumably, share the amazing ad on social media, an added benefit of any good AR campaign.

This AR print ad from Land Rover was social media gold(link)

The success of this ad was due to the high quality of the AR technology, which gave the viewer the ability to experience Land Rover’s vehicles in a very tangible way. The campaign used three separate sensory-enhancing AR components, showcasing three specific features on the Range Rover Sport. The ad included the ability to share each experience with friends (Source: Digital Buzz Blog)

Lego used simple but effective AR technology in their stores(link)

To further entice consumers to purchase their products, the toy giant used an augmented reality kiosk to show people what the pieces inside the box would look like when they were assembled. It was a much more effective, appealing, and engaging sales technique compared to the flat, 2D images on the box. (Source: YouTube)

Last summer, IKEA unveiled their spectacular AR catalogue(link)

With IKEA’s groundbreaking catalogue, consumers could envision exactly how specific items would look inside their homes. The technology was even able to determine the measurements of the surrounding room, so shoppers could get a very realistic view of how a piece of furniture would fit into their décor.

The Converse Sampler App took shoe shopping to a whole new level(link)

This user-friendly app allowed shoppers to scroll through a menu of the brand’s most popular styles, and when users held their mobile device as instructed, they could virtually see the sneakers on their feet. Of course, shoppers were encouraged to save their images to their gallery and share them with their friends, and the world. Lastly, the app made it very easy for the already-enamored shoppers to purchase their favorite styles.

American Apparel’s colorful collection gets a boost from AR (link)

Making it easy to see their products in every color, American Apparel’s AR campaign also provided other enhancements to the in-store shopping experience. Consumers could read reviews, see additional images and even videos. And sharing the products, as well as the fun technology, on social media was as easy as touching your screen.

So keep your eyes out for some innovative and unforgettable augmented reality marketing, coming to a magazine ad, product label, or store window near you.

Have you already been amazed by this fun technology?

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