Augmented reality, the overlaying of digital content which can be in the form of information of graphics, over objects, people and locations in the real world as viewed through a mobile platform or webcam, is a term we are all fairly familiar with these days.
Its natural pairing with mobile augmented platforms in smart phones, and the ever-increasing adoption trends for smart-phones worldwide, has enabled us to see many consumer products adopt AR based apps as part of their integrated marketing campaigns. From cars to magazines, and just about every other thing in between, we have seen innovative and engaging uses of AR technology aimed at the consumer market.
The B2B scene however has seen few AR marketing applications developed and most seem to lack the punch and pizzazz delivered by their B2C counterparts. A big part of this lies in the early adopters focussing on the novelty of the new technology over the marketing goals of their campaign.
AR solutions can be used as part of a B2B company’s integrated marketing plan to reinforce their brand, as part of employee engagement, maximize presence at events, and bring product demos to life amongst others. The key to successfully using this technology remains understanding the business and/or marketing goal you want to achieve and using the technology as a means of achieving that goal.
Datacraft in Singapore organizes several training workshops and seminars round the year for partner sales engineers and managers. These events saw a gradual but consistent decline in participation. Furthermore, they found it increasingly difficult to keep the audience engaged for the whole duration of 3-hour long sessions. Datacraft was looking for a solution to boost attendance, increase engagement levels and retain audience interest till the end of the event.
GetIT Comms developed and implemented a Reason-to-Stay (RTS) solution based on Augmented Reality (AR) - the simplicity of idea was in a postcard carrying a cryptic design with a note inviting the attendees to flash it at a camera placed in a booth at the end of the event to win themselves a surprise gift. When the design is flashed at the camera, a virtual gift would pop out of the screen with a virtual 3D feel, and the attendee wins what he/she sees. Attempts were made to personalize the experience for each attendee to the extent possible.
GetIT Comms’ Reason-to-Stay (RTS) solution raised considerable curiosity and interest among the attendees; they were delighted by an idea that was futuristic, the extent of personalization, and the novelty value it held for the content was unlike any of its peer events. Not only did the participation remain active till the end of the event, word of this unique initiative also spread among their partner community driving up attendance at future events. Recognizing the success, other country teams also expressed interest in incorporate AR element in their events.
With mobile devices projected to overtake PCs as the most common web devices by 2013 (Ref: Gartner Highlights Key Predictions for IT Organizations and Users in 2010 and Beyond) B2B companies will have to reevaluate their marketing plans to target their audience of buyers and influencers much more effectively.
While AR is just one means of leveraging on the mobile trend it is rapidly becoming a more mature technology whilst retaining its engagement factor with audiences. As AR apps become cheaper and easier to develop it makes sense for B2B companies to incorporate them in their strategies.
Marketers must bear in mind their organization’s business imperatives and marketing objectives and accordingly use technology to develop the right app and actively engage their audiences.
This exclusive guest post was written by Anol who consults hi-tech and telco clients (Cisco Systems Inc, IBM, IDC Asia Pacific, HP, Datacraft etc.) on behalf of GetIT (Singapore), in the field of B2B marketing, demand generation, lead nurturing, social media strategy & implementation, interactive digital media for marketing initiatives and user experience design.
He is a regular columnist on the topic of B2B marketing in various print and online newspapers, such as Business Times, Straits Times, Marketing Interactive, Asia One etc. He is also the editor-in-chief of B2Bento.com, a leading blog about news, views and reviews of the B2B marketing space and social media scene in Asia.
Image Courtesy: www.getitcomms.com