5 December 2020 Rosemary Kay

Augmented reality story games

…and how they can move audiences as never before…

One of the exciting things about Augmented Reality is that it can be geolocated. That means we can move people. Of course, we’ve been able to move people emotionally with powerful stories for a long time, but now we can also move people physically, so they can explore places they’ve never explored before, or see the old places they know and love, but in a different way.

violet on the beach

Our experience shows that moving people, through interactive, immersive story, can be transformational for organisations wanting to get a message across. It can cut-through all the other messages, change behaviour and onboard people to a cause or a campaign in places and in ways never before achieved.

People sometimes think that you need an expensive headset to enjoy Augmented Reality.  But it can be accessed using an ordinary smartphone. You point your phone camera at something, like a picture in a magazine, or a billboard, and augmented reality brings them to life – 3D images, sound, text, characters, come out of the 2D images – appearing in front of you. It’s often mind-blowing – and if you add story, it can be deeply moving

Augmented reality is already happening. There’s the Ikea app, which lets you place furniture in your own home, which is a useful function for shoppers

ikea augmented reality app(no more getting lost in the Vortex of Scandi Living which is the Ikea store!)

Or you could maybe get your favourite team of footballers to play on your living room table (we’re working on this!)

Manchester City football AR

Or you can curate your own augmented reality story, like our Incognito Frog, which we’re creating so that children can place favourite characters, companion avatars, wherever they want, at home, in the garden, in the park…

What we’re finding is that the interactivity, and the fun factor this gives, creates much more engagement with ideas, products and services. There’s an old saying: “I Hear and I Forget, I See and I Remember, I Do and I Understand” So interactive experience where you do something, creates deeper, longer engagement than hearing or seeing alone.

The definition of immersive from Thinkwithgoogle is really relevant. ‘Immersing oneself in other worlds provides the user with an extraordinary intensity – reinforcing customer relationships and brand recognition.’

The big tech giants know augmented reality will create radical change.  Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon are investing massively in it, in smart glasses and augmented reality platforms.

Augmented Reality will be bigger than the iPhone

Because as Tim Cook says, it’s going to be bigger than when they brought out the Iphone

The massive wave of augmented reality is about to crash onto our shores because several factors are coming together at the same time.

Most phones are AR activated nowadays, and in the next year, smart glasses will be rolled out.

And then, of course, 5G is coming, which will make all this augmented reality activity faster, easier, and much more effective. That’ll have a massive impact on the way we consume our media.

And consumers are ready. Millennials, and Gen Z just don’t consume media in the same way as older generations.They live through their phones. Even older demographics are adept with smart phones, of course, now. So, in a few years, even the oldest customer will have forgotten what life was like before augmented reality….

gazooky studios catch the AR wave

So that’s why we are finding more and more companies are coming to us, to explore the potential, and get ahead of the competition.

ROB DICKENS,  Global Strategy Director for Mediacom, a highly creative media agency, wrote a blog recently about how people are now much more aware of things like QR codes. Since Covid, consumers are much more familiar with new technology. And this creates “a more ambitious opportunity to create a whole new channel for ‘surprise and delight’ content discovery”.  And he calls the digital revolution “A portal to give consumers access to compelling product stories…”

mediacom blog

Marketing companies like this, who harness the power of compelling digital stories, will be at the front of the augmented reality wave, reaching people in new ways, giving consumers something they want.

And people want to be moved, they like to be drawn into a meaty, emotional, or funny story, to find out what will happen in the end, and maybe even interact with the characters, feel they are influencing the story. That’s the fun of storygames.

Stories make people care about other human beings, put audiences into another person’s shoes, give them meaning and reasons to do things. Story activates people.

Sophisticated augmented reality story could become the hub which allows a joined-up marketing campaign, combining all creative content to work in harmony, augmenting the power of all ideas. Mixing digital technology, story & location takes Out of Home Marketing to another level.

augmented reality billboard

courtesy: Blippar

There is still a need for print, for TV, that sort of creative content isn’t going to go away.  The different forms of messaging can join forces, enhance each other, give consumers something better and more exciting, something they can get excited about, something to care about.

And with cutting edge geolocation technology, using European Space Agency space tech, we now have the opportunity to deliver geolocated stories, so that people can seek out the story, in new locations.

european space agency

european space agency satellite

Using space tech means users can access high quality augmented reality content anywhere. And it can be done at a fraction of the cost compared to traditional advertising, with the same creative content being leveraged in a variety of ways.

If augmented reality stories are compelling enough, creative enough, then customers will want to engage, want to be part of this new, sociable, sharable activity. Customers become part of the brand community, taking part in, and even amplifying the message.

And then there’s the impact of WebAR.  This tech means customers can just point their phone at an image or QR code in a magazine, or hidden in a billboard, and it will come to life. No need to mess about downloading anything. It’s instant.

QR codes have been around a long time. But WebAR is rapidly getting a whole lot more sophisticated. Take a look at some of the campaigns already out there, for instance on the WebAR platform of 8th Wall – they are like the Netflix of AR, which is why we are partnering with them. Check out the Pink Floyd campaign for Sony which delivered 2 minutes of dwell time across 140 countries

Pink floyd augmented reality

It’s a really creative augmented reality campaign, loved by fans, made by the brilliant Draw and Code

We’ve worked on a couple of cool projects with Draw and Codedraw and code logo

and they are doing ground-breaking stuff; like us they have the developers who are skilled at WebAR as well as app-based AR and creatives making the only just possible….

WebAR means that augmented reality geolocated content could provide you something fun to play with whilst waiting for a bus.

coffee advert billboardIt could show future choices, menu option, make take-outs easier.  And the content can be time specific, so we can change the augmented reality content easily, quickly and cheaply, to respond to let’s say, a Christmas campaign, for instance..

coffee advert xmas augmented reality

Or more ambitiously: what about an entire branded storyworld, of avatar companions, who appear on your table, who can draw audiences into storyworlds to get messages out, like our Homeless Christmas donkey.

The possibilities and power of augmented reality stories are endless.

Because sometimes, no matter how brilliant a campaign, a product or service, people need to be moved, before they take action.

augmented reality ship