Augmented Reality has long been an interesting side-show experiment with lots of potential, but has not been a particularly crucial component of the digital marketer’s toolbox. Does Pokemon GO represent the tipping point that will legitimize the platform and bring it onto the main stage? Maybe.
One of AR’s drawbacks has been the need to prefaceit to the user. It required at least a bit of a set-up or explanation for the potential user to “get it”, and take the risk and commitment to spend the time, data and energy to actually download the app. With the explosion of Pokemon GO related stories and memes that will hit the airwaves over the next few weeks, everyone but the most cloistered hermit will have a better understanding about AR.
But this new familiarity also has a down side. Until now, AR was cutting edge and new, and it could rely upon that newness to generate buzz and interest. With the countless me-too apps that will likely ride Po-GO’s coat tails in the next few months, Marketers and Developers will find it a challenge to create AR interactions that are truly interesting, relevant and valuable.
AR’s strength is its ability to bridge the barrier between the digital and physical space. Digital marketers have – with varied success – utilized other tools to help them extend their digital reach into the real world, and vice versa. Proximity beacons, geo-targeted mobile ads, smart digital adboards, and a host of other technologies can extend your digital ecosystem to target users with specific needs, in particular contexts, at designated locations.
Smart retailers who have noticed hoards of Pokemon GO players bouncing into lamp-posts outside their shops, have quickly set up PokeStop Lures and Gyms – or at least offered free charging stations - to encourage gamers into their locations.
Now that users and marketers have gotten their feet wet with AR technology, it is a shorter leap to engage it for a subsequent dive into the AR pool.
As the technology becomes more accessible and pervasive, smart digital marketers will seize on opportunities to integrate their message into this digital environment.
But as with any digital or communications endeavor, the key will be making sure the interaction is relevant and valuable to the consumer.
Now if you’ll excuse me, Squirtle and I need to hit the gym.