Augmented Reality: Snapchat Leads the Pack, Sorry Pikachu!

augmented reality

By Carolyn Ann De Melo, Project Manager

With the instant and widespread popularity of Pokémon Go, augmented reality was thrust outward to the masses in a way it has never been before. While useful as a marketing platform (or, more-so, a gaming experience that can be capitalized on from a marketing/PR perspective) it is simply a successful closed ecosystem combined with a consensus reality using augmented reality, or AR.

Many gaming opportunities are closed ecosystems in a way social media platforms are not. Snapchat’s filters and stickers are stationary but have the possibility to be creatively used for an AR type commentary or experiences, as they exist upon static reality after a video or image has been taken. While access to some is located based (through Geofilters), the bigger deal here is the true augmented reality within facial lenses. They have inherent facial recognition capability, as popularized recently by the draw-your-own feature, but the mass use of companies creating facial lenses or filters that have the “wow” factor of something like 3D optical illusion images remains as of yet untapped. While not perfected quite yet, and extensive in workload, these filters and lenses bode well for innovative gamification. The Gatorade lens for the Super Bowl was one success story. Other lenses, such as the Taco Bell lens were also popular, despite being visually less than appealing. It is also important to note is that the focus of these should be on the user, not the brand, almost as if the infamous Toast-Head lens was brought to you by Wonder Bread.  

Outside of Snapchat, there are a few apps out there actually using augmented reality to either inform the user (Star Chart, which is all about the night sky) or for upgraded gamification (NYC Lotto, especially Gold Castle). 3D immersive experiences like VR cafes are popping up in Japan, and 4D movie experiences are now appearing in major cities. Social media is inching closer with experiences like 360 video, but no network is closer than Snapchat. So, until social media networks or commonly used media platforms (like Netflix) implement easy, fun, and accessible AR, the best bet is either to play in an easy accessible AR space right now (like Snapchat), or latch onto the popularity of something that just so happens to be AR, like Pokémon Go. Right now, we are in the novelty stage of AR, so anything social media marketers can do to capitalize on that and create fun game-like experiences or moments of joy, is a smart strategy. 

How have you been using augmented reality for your brand? Share your thoughts with the Likeable Media team below!