So, your agency is pitching you on an Augmented Reality (AR) execution. And as much as you’d love to move forward with something, the fact is you might not know that much about AR. And why should you? It’s rather “cutting edge”, especially in terms of its marketing implications, and you have a ton of other things to worry about.
As a marketing agency (Zugara) that also develops our own proprietary AR technologies (and seeing as how it’s the holiday season and all that jazz) we thought it might be nice to arm you with some important questions to ask your agency. This way, you hopefully don’t end up paying for an agency to simply have an AR execution that looks great on their reel, but never actually engages a consumer. Noted below, are a few questions/issues you should be cognizant of, and the reason they should be included in your thinking. HAPPY FESTIVUS!
The Question: Will this be built in Flash (if online)?
The Reason: One word: “Downloads”. We’ve harped on this before, proprietary technologies require downloads and a significant number of consumers drop out of a process when faced with one. So why do it? Flash’s install rate is nearly 100%. If you’re going to put your budget and time into AR, the least you can do is give your consumer the opportunity to enjoy it. Below, you’ll see a tweet that was sent to me. I track the term “augmented reality” on Twitter, and whenever someone tweets that term, I see it. @woscholar tweeted about an unpleasant experience he was having with a Avatar cross-promotion that McDonalds is running. I engaged him in a conversation, and here’s his feedback regarding the download that AR execution required:
The Question: Why aren’t we just creating this experience within the browser (i.e. Why isn’t this just a traditional web site?)?
The Reason: Is the idea you’re being pitched to just have a 3-D model pop out of a marker and essentially push your message to the consumer (be it via a key-ed out video or the like)? If the AR doesn’t truly add anything to the experience, why put the budget against it and limit your campaign’s potential reach (due to the need for a web cam)? Ask your team if you’re using this technology just to use it. Think about your goals. Think about your objectives. Think about your consumers. If AR can be a natural extension of the story you’re trying to tell, then perfect! If not, just keep it in your arsenal/thinking.
The Question: Will you walk me through the entire consumer experience?
The Reason: Taking the time to answer this question can expose fundamental flaws with the concept. Sometimes an idea can sound fantastic on the surface, but when you go step by step through the consumer experience you begin to realize something: no consumer would ever do everything it takes to participate (e.g. you may realize that the user would need to put their computer or web cam on the floor to get the necessary camera angle). Seeing as how you want consumers to “do stuff”, this can be a good way of vetting ideas.
The Question: Why do you think a consumer would do this? What is their payoff?
The Reason: Obviously, the days of the consumer sitting there patiently listening to your entire message/ad are long gone. It’s the consumer’s world, and we’re just living in it. They need a compelling reason to interact with your engagement… to give you their time. One good litmus test is to put your “consumer hat on”. Odds are (unless you’re working for Nike, Apple, or a few others) most of your consumers “like” your brand, but aren’t passionately fanatical about it. So, think about a brand you “like” (not yours), and think about whether or not you would interact with it if they launched an execution similar to the one you’re contemplating. If the answer is “no”, then think about what it would take to make you participate. If you can’t find anything to make the offering compelling, perhaps this execution is not “the one”.
The Question: Why are you pitching me a mobile idea, versus an online idea?
The Reason: A mobile execution would be cool and cutting edge, granted. But for the near term, it’s limited in its reach (do more people have computers or iphones/blackberrys?), and functionality. Although not widely publicized, the fact is the hardware running on smartphones is not ready to deliver the consumer experience you’re expecting (I wrote more about this back in June), and the much beloved iPhone’s API still remains mostly closed to developers (which means you can’t have an iPhone read a marker like online unless it’s been jail-broken – which most consumers would never do). Not to mention, there’s apparently no rhyme or reason as to how Apple accepts/declines apps for the app store… so there’s the potential for your investment to never see the light of day. To be clear, in our opinion mobile AR will be huge in the future, it’s just not there yet.
The Question: What’s the experience for the consumer that doesn’t have access to a webcam?
The Reason: There aren’t any publicly available, industry standard metrics on web cam penetration rates. This much is certain though, as of today, a significant number of your audience doesn’t have a webcam and you can’t ignore them because they will come to the site looking for an experience.
The Question: Are you sure this is even possible?
The Reason: Odds are, you’re being pitched by someone who’s not an expert in the technology. They’re creative, and smart, but most of the time their ideas just flat out aren’t doable (either in the near term or without a ton of R&D). Before you get your boss excited about the idea, it’s probably prudent to make sure that it’s technologically feasible.
So, what do you think? Agree? Disagree? Are there other questions that brand managers should be asking their agency? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
You can find me on twitter @jack_benoff