I’ve not been a huge fan of augmented reality over the past couple of years. I’ve struggled to see real world marketing applications, as all the solutions seem to be time-consuming and very niche. However things are changing, as I recently came across a UK company making some significant inroads into major brands with their augmented reality solution, Blippar. With campaigns for Heinz, Marmite, Tesco and Cadburys under their belts it forces you to sit up and take a closer look.

Blippar Marmite Example

Click to watch the video

The consumer heart of Blippar is their mobile app for Android and iOS devices, which essentially provides you a window to interact with brands. I downloaded the app, grabbed a bottle of Heinz Ketchup out of the cupboard, held it to my iPad and was greeted with an interactive interface which linked me to various recipe videos, their Facebook presence and a chance to win a prize. It’s was slick, quick and fluid. Very nice – but significant room for untapped opportunity.

What I REALLY like about this is that they can initiate campaigns and allow consumers to interact with brands WITHOUT having to change the original entry point. My Heinz bottle didn’t have a ‘scan this’ message one it, there was no sign of a code – it was a regular bottle of Ketchup. The technology work on image recognition. This is very powerful in my eyes. Brands can create interactive campaigns and allow consumers to interact with those campaigns by interacting with objects they have already. The mind races:

  • What if I ‘Blippar’ my Sky box and receive a interface allowing me to see the latest box office films?
  • What if I ‘Blippar’ my Oyster card for the London Underground? Because Blippar ‘knows’ where I am it could tell me the status of my Oyster account’s funds, and provide relevant information about the closest station or line.
  • What if I ‘Blipper’ the McDonalds ad on the highest to receive the directions to my nearest resturant.
  • What if I ‘Blipper’ my Costa Coffee card to receive my points balance, a relevant offer, a different choice of drink and the directions to my nearest coffee house?

The list goes on. However each one of these applications currently works by providing a way of interacting with the brand. All the interaction is done within the Blippar interface. Sure, I can be provided links to jump off to the brands Facebook page, but there’s still nothing personal there – it’s still ‘gimmicky’.

Remember that all the tools exists to join up the communications channels to create, establish or continue a conversation. XMPie is just one platform, so what if you were to mix an AR platform like Blippar with a Cross Media Communications platform like XMPie?

What if …. what if I were to ‘Blippar’ an advert for BMW on the high street? I might get some some more information about the model of car that the ad is talking about. Maybe, I could view a 3D model of the car. However, what if I could express an interest in that product by selecting an option. I could then be brought into a dynamic website that is tailored to my geographic location, allowing me see where I can book a test-drive, or by entering my details I can receive a  printed brochure of the car that I am looking at, relative to where my nearest showroom is? All in an instance – initiated by me! That would be cool, and would also allow a conversation to start. It’s pull-advertising at it’s finest. As a consumer, I have expressed an interest in a product, I have then initiated a conversation, by providing my details, which can then be used to create further communications and drive (excuse the intentional pun!) me further down the marketing funnel.

This method would take Blippar even further into the marketing chain, by allowing consumers to both interact with a brand and then initiate a conversation, which is then consistent, immediate and personalised.

There are some questions still outstanding for me that would provide some interesting applications:

  • At the moment Blippar has to do all of the creative work to create the AR elements – which is obviously their business model. However it would be nice to see a licensed, consumer version that agencies and creatives could use to create ‘Blippars’.
  • I am not 100% sure, if the content of a ‘Blippar’ is simply downloaded to a device and executed locally, with no further interaction to the Internet. It would be great if content could consist of dynamic elements. If this were the case, the content could be versioned based on geographical location, or allow the user to enter data directly to provide a personalised experience.

Either way Blippar allows for a very interactive experience – what is lacking is the initiation of a dynamic conversation. Tools like XMPie can offer that extention – it just needs someone to pull them together in a campaign….

[message type=”info”]Full disclosure: At the time of writing this article the author was employed by XMPie, a Xerox Company. [/message]