Say Hello to the Web
Over the past few years, we’ve talked about the camera being a platform for creation, communication and commerce. Through animations, masks, playful effects and contextual information, users have been able to express themselves across the various channels. Moving into 2019, not only will these experiences push the boundaries of what AR has to offer, but they’ll also expand into other communication channels and be easier to access.
The barriers to access augmented reality effects are quickly breaking down and 2019 will bring with it the advancement of Web-based AR. We’ve already seen the building blocks of that with AR Quick Look, which allows users to access AR images of products directly from the Safari browser.
Thanks to a new file format from Apple and Adobe entitled USDZ, developers can easily link their images to ones viewable in AR.
While Safari was the first major browser to offer these capabilities, look for Chrome, Firefox, etc., to jump on board in 2019. Once fully realized, there’s a vast potential for AR on the Web and it doesn’t just stop at commerce. Education, entertainment and more are all areas for ripe disruption and that’s only going to pick up as our method of access moves from phones to less intrusive hardware like glasses or contacts.
The mobile device is an incredibly important aspect of the consumer decision journey and just as consumers came to expect high-quality imagery on mobile sites, they’ll soon come to expect the ability to “try before they buy” through augmented objects. In order to keep consumers engaged and satisfy the needs of their consideration set, it’s important for marketers to begin asking themselves how AR can play a role on their mobile sites. A simple first step is to outfit your site with USDZ image files, while a more advanced approach involves product demonstrations, use cases, stories or linking to alternative educational/entertainment vehicles.
Your News Feed Comes to Life
Portrait mode, beloved by selfie-taking teens and animalobsessed adults alike, is the fruit of wonderfully powerful hardware and software aboard flagship phones. Using a mix of dual cameras and AI algorithms, we’re able to capture images that enhance the view of the subject while slightly blurring the background. This capability has boosted the Instagram profiles for many but it doesn’t just stop there.
Facebook recently rolled out the ability for users (and businesses) to upload 3-D images onto the platform. By using the portrait mode feature, users can upload images that can be scrolled, panned and tilted to give off a 3-D effect. Wayfair was one of the first brands to explore this space, showcasing their products in detail and allowing their consumers to view them from up close.
Outside of commerce, entertainment and event-based brands should be looking toward 3-D imagery to promote their services. Museums and theme parks could give viewers a sneak peek into the attractions while creating a “wow” factor for the endless scrolling of social media users.
3-D imagery is a really powerful tool for brands to enhance their storytelling capabilities through social media. Marketers, especially social community managers, need to consistently be learning and adapting to keep up with the technological advances that these social giants allow their users to create.
Adopting 3-D photos requires a relatively low degree of technical expertise and it will undoubtedly increase engagement for your brand across social. Additionally, CPG brands can easily give their consumers more freedom to view and discover products, in a way that’s currently less intrusive than adding augmented effects.
The Esports Celebrity Has Arrived
Driven by Generation Z, the popularity of gaming and Esports has dramatically risen in the past few years. On average, this demographic actively plays or watches Esports for an hour and half a day; be it on mobile devices, tablets, or home console entertainment systems. For teens, gaming is something that they do with their friends. It’s an activity that helps build social capital and the camaraderie closely resembles many of the reasons why adults get together to play sports.
As these communities grow and develop on platforms like Twitch and YouTube, it’s given rise to a new form of celebrity — the gaming streamer. Personalities like Ninja are gaining a massive following by mastering popular games such as Fortnite and streaming their live game play. The ability to narrate and interact with fans during the game provides them with a unique relationship that’s native to live streaming. This popularity doesn’t just stop at live streaming. Professional Esports teams are gaining massive followings with the eight largest organizations being valued at over $100 million. Viewership of these events is on par with that of the NFL and NBA, both of which, not-surprisingly, own their own Esports organizations.
Brands that are looking to capitalize on the success of Esports and reach a younger demographic need to first ask themselves a question: Do you want to market to gamers or do you want to build a relationship with gamers? If you simply want to market to gamers, there are tons of media channels to execute against to get your brand front and center.
Creating a relationship with gamers means going deeper than that. Brands that are able to create relevant content that’s catered toward improving the game play experience of their target audience have done well in achieving their goal. For example, the NFL did not simply sponsor Fortnite, they struck a deal with them to allow gamers to dress their avatars as their favorite NFL athletes.
Create for Cocreation: Put Viewers in the Driver’s Seat
Digital video — whether on social platforms, branded Websites or streaming services — is increasingly becoming more interactive rather than passive. From choose-your-own adventure storylines to contextual hotspots, brands and platforms alike are quickly realizing the value of increased engagement that interactive content brings to them.
Platforms like Facebook Watch and Netflix are including choose-your-own-adventure storylines to further engage users in the entertainment journey. The popular Netflix series, Black Mirror, will feature an upcoming episode allowing active viewers to have a say in how their journey plays out. More so, when it comes to commerce, interactive content generates two times ore conversions than passive content while also generating reusable value, resulting in repeat visitors and multiple exposures.
Brands looking to reach a younger, more digitally savvy audience should look to interactive video as a way to effectively engage that demographic during their path to purchase. On average, Gen Z consumes upwards of two-and-a-half hours a day with on-demand content. There’s almost an inherent expectation or need to control their entertainment experience.
On the commerce side, clickable hot spots allow publishers and brands to augment their content with additional information as well as create a seamless path to purchase. Brands only have a matter of seconds to engage their audience before they move on. It’s incredibly important to allow your viewers to experience and buy your products as they’re currently engaged.
Time to Cut the Cord on Traditional Advertising
Over the past few years, we’ve added the term “cutting the cord” to our daily vernacular. Simply put, it means consumers are quickly moving away from cable or satellite TV services. Currently almost three-quarters of the US population pays for such services. It’s expected that by 2022, that number will drop to less than two-thirds.
Conversely, the number of digital video viewers is expected to rise to 250 million in the same time period. This behavior opens the door for advertisers to get more precise with their messaging through enhanced programmatic offerings and for marketers to interact with their audiences in ways that traditional TV did not allow.
Live sports is an area of massive growth potential in this space. Amazon began streaming Thursday Night Football games this year through Prime Video as well as costreamed through Twitch. During these streams, viewers were able to take advantage of Amazon’s X-Ray feature to get in-depth stats, game history and even shop for related gear, without moving their eyes away from the screen.
Traditional TV is slowly dying and has been for some time. Newer digital offerings not only have the benefit of more eyeballs, but allow for contextual interactivity and empowerment. Marketers that are looking to take advantage of this trend should look to partner with related platforms or entertainment publishers.
Additionally, it’s important to include programmatic TV advertising as part of your media planning. Reaching consumers at the right place, right time and right device shouldn’t stop after the phone, tablet and desktop.