By Olivia Cahoon
Augmented Reality (AR), and to some extent—quick response codes—offer an interactive experience between physical and virtual worlds with the aid of technology. AR works by utilizing scanning software to scan images or objects embedded with technology that allows digital information and media to overlay in real time through the camera view of a smartphone, tablet, PC, or other connected devices.
According to research firm, Markets to Markets, AR and Virtual Reality Market Global Forecast, by 2022 the global AR market is expected to reach $111.40B at a compound annual growth rate of 75.72 percent during the forecast period.
AR has great potential in retail and e-commerce sectors due to its ability to make print interactive and connect creative content with the user.
AR provides a view of real-world environments with virtual elements through computer-generated sensory input. Depending on the application, it offers vibrant graphics accessible to video, audio, and three-dimensional (3D) content. Marketers benefit from AR by facilitating brand interaction across devices and bridging physical and virtual elements of a brand.
Printed materials serve as a launch point for an AR experience. According to Eric Hawkinson, marketing senior director, Production Print Solutions, Canon Solutions America, digital printing is an ideal launch point for AR because it prints embedded applications cost effectively and allows for variable objects in a single run.
Hawkinson notices AR applications in retail applications, including catalogs, magazines, signs, and point of purchase (POP) displays. “One large furniture and homewares retailer embeds AR into its catalog so viewers can scan an item and view it in their home via AR on their smartphone,” he shares.
AR may also be used for direct mail to enhance campaigns, with publications adding videos, and posters and signs driving curiosity. By promoting active engagement, interactive print leads to high return on investments because users are engaged and undergoing authentic experiences.
Interactive print is also implemented in the education industry, enabling virtual-related immersive learning experiences. The real estate industry leverages AR to provide prospects with video tours of homes for sale by scanning the selling sheet with mobile phones. “This is just a small sample of industries using AR, but the key is that AR can enrich a user’s perception of the real world and make standard print applications highly engaging and interactive,” says Hawkinson.
Mobile application (app) developers also have an interest in AR due to the popularity of smartphones equipped with GPS and geomagnetic sensors. The technology allows user interactivity to be enhanced by relevant information.
Mobile apps like Layar allow users to bring everyday objects to life by uploading images of greeting cards, flyers, and packages to instantly create a personalized AR experience. The application also allows drag and drop interactive digital elements including video messages, music clips, interactive photo slideshows, and social media links. Using social media, users publish and share creations, allowing others to scan created items for an interactive experience.
Layar SDK allows users to embed its AR software into existing applications to create a custom vision or location-based mobile AR experience. It features customized default designs and interfaces to match the look and feel of brands, and integrates into application workflows using PhoneGap framework plug in. Layar also promotes custom application solutions and offers experts one-on-one help regarding concept, design, build, launch, and evaluation.
AR plays a role in omni-channel marketing campaigns where marketers provide a seamless experience, regardless of channel or devices. Hawkinson sees a growing demand as consumers now engage with a company in a physical store, on an online website, or a mobile app through a catalog or social media. “AR offers an effective device to help consumers transition seamlessly among channels.”
With the growing popularity of this technology, there still comes the decision for print providers and companies to offer AR applications. Hawkinson believes that companies should offer these applications to better serve customers. “It can take a traditional print application and make it interactive, which can ultimately boost response rates.”
Consumers seek integrated direct mail and mobile experiences. It is important to integrate mobile technology with print and other media to be active and engage customers. “If print providers can help their customers increase response rates and engagement through AR, it can lead to more profitable and successful applications,” says Hawkinson.
Practicing what it preaches, Canon Solutions America recently implemented AR for an omni-channel campaign of the Connection Video Series. The Connection Video Series allows viewers to see Canon Solutions America’s commitment to connect with costumers to build a results-driven future in digital production printing technology. The Connection Video Series includes videos of customers sharing personal experiences of their relationship with Canon Solutions America.
The company sent two direct mail campaigns to its database and submitted print advertisements to numerous printing industry publications, all of which included embedded AR using the Layar app to drive traffic to the video series.
“We saw the higher number of scans and web traffic on both the direct mail and print advertisements compared to previous direct mail and advertisements that contained vanity URLs,” says Hawkinson. By using AR, relevant information is accessible and enhances the user’s interactions.
AR allows Canon Solutions America content viewers to scan advertisements and mail pieces immediately to direct viewers to videos. Hawkinson believes this process offers a more seamless experience than asking consumers to remember a URL to type it into their computer. “We saw return on higher engagement rates with our printed materials and higher video views—all of which led to a successful omni-channel campaign.”
For printed applications, Canon Solutions America also uses Blippar and Augmented. Blippar offers a range of AR, artificial intelligence products, and APIs capable of being tailored to clients’ needs, resources, and budgets. The Blippar mobile application is available on iOS, Android, and wearables.
AR brings new life to print. It is popularly being used in retail for brand promotion, POP, signs, magazines, and catalogs. “AR plays a huge role in omni-channel marketing campaigns,” explains Hawkinson. As a fast-growing market trend, the technology is expected to improve and further integrate itself into digital print.
A Digital World
As AR continues to grow, digital printing is an excellent launch point for it to prosper. Print applications embedded with AR give consumers an innovative experience that is convenient and useful. As the technology strengthens, it becomes a growing trend for print providers to consider for implementation.
Mar2017, DPS Magazine