Augmented reality is on the horizon. What is augmented reality you ask? Let's look at the first word: augmented. Augmented means improved, additional, or multiplied. Add the word reality, and we're looking at improved reality with multiple dimensions. Where are we seeing this most today? Movies. 3D movies are the simplest form of augmented reality. They make you think that you are immersed in the film, experiencing things in front of you, around you, and behind you. While 3D movies are pushing the film industry in new directions, I think the use of augmented reality in advertising is what is really going to change the lives of consumers in the future.
My first introduction to augmented reality in advertising came about a month ago. One of my favorite bands, Blink 182, teamed up with Frito Lay to create a brand awareness campaign for a new flavor of Doritos. What's the catch? If you buy a bag of the Doritos before a certain date you will get a ticket in your bag. With this ticket you can go to a website at a certain time on a certain date, scan the ticket through your webcam, and enter into an exclusive concert venue featuring a live performance from Blink 182. How did this work? With mixed results.
I did go purchase a bag of Doritos and got my ticket. The night of the concert, I scanned the ticket, got into the online venue, and watched the performance. It was pretty cool actually scanning the ticket and feeling like I was seeing an exclusive performance. The concert itself however, didn't deliver much reality at all. Hunter Hidman, creative director behind the promotion stated, "The experience literally explodes out of the bag onto your screen." While that was true (the screen was a Doritos bag, and it ripped open to have the band playing) it wasn't as explosive as I'd thought. My ideas for improvement? Still working on them. But this is just the beginning and companies are starting to find new and innovative ways to approach this idea of augmented reality.
The newest company to hop on the AR campaign is Best Buy. What are they doing to break the barrier? Offering 3D Weekly Advertising promotions through a specialized website that uses your computer's webcam to create virtual 360 degree images that rotate before your eyes. How does this work? To be honest, I haven’t tried it yet. Do I think it's a good idea? I'm on the bubble. The website (http://www.bestbuyin3d.com/) makes it look pretty cool, but truthfully, I don't think were in the technological age yet where people won't leave their homes to go look at products in stores. Seeing an image from an ad in 3D is very interesting, but it still lacks the reality of seeing the product in-store. I think that it's a step in the right direction but it's not 100% there just yet.
Best Buy isn't stopping there. Their next step in breaking the barrier between the company and the consumer is offering a new Twitter based service they call Twelp Force. While I get the play-on-words (Twitter+Help = Twelp) I don't know how this is going to take off. It's a Twitter page managed by technological experts who answer tech questions via Twitter 24/7. I understand the concept, appreciate the simplicity, but am still unsure whether I think Twitter is a good platform for tech questions. With questions and answers restricted to 140 characters, I like the idea of short and simple, but find it hard to believe that most questions can be handled as such. Once again however, I don't see many other companies offering a Twitter based solution service, so my props to you Best Buy.
The point of this post is this: Think outside the box. In fact, think outside the circle, because in today's world I think everyone is connected in ways more reminiscent of a circle than a square. What can companies do in the future with a webcam and a computer? What product or service can you offer your clients via Twitter? What promotion could serve as the next driving force for your brand's identity? It's these new technologies that are paving the way for the next generation of consumers, and it is up to us to find new and exciting ways to communicate our messages to them.
Check out more on the Doritos and Best Buy campaigns here:http://www.wired.com/underwire/2009/07/blink-182-rocks-augmented-reality-show-in-doritos-bag/