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Role Of Augmented Reality And Virtual Reality In Marketing And Advertising Industry

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The purpose of the marketing industry is to communicate companies’ offerings to consumers, clients, and the general public. Marketing professionals bridge the gap between companies and their customers. The American Marketing Association defines marketing as “the activity, institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.

Marketing companies employ consultants who advise businesses on ways to improve their marketing tactics, with the goal of understanding what customers want, giving them what they want, and increasing profits. Businesses may hire marketing professionals to conduct marketing and sales research (e.g., public opinion polls, surveys, etc.), sales forecasting, developing marketing objectives and policies, developing and pricing new products, and for other assistance in improving and enhancing their business operations. Governments, educational, religious, social service, and nonprofit organizations hire marketing specialists to help them manage their products and services and promote their brands.

The types of jobs in the marketing industry include marketing managers, market research analysts, and marketing specialists. Marketing professionals may work in-house with companies on a full-time basis or they may be hired as independent consultants. The Department of Labor reported that there were 192,890 marketing managers employed in the United States in May 2015. Other business areas that the marketing industry works closely with include brand and product management and development, advertising, promotions, public relations, and media relations.

Many top marketing companies have global offices that offer a variety of services, making it easier for clients to have more aspects of their projects completed by one company instead of contracting with different companies for different services. Clients often prefer agencies with full-service branding and marketing communications services. The types of services marketing agencies offer include analytics, such as studying data after an advertising campaign is completed to see where improvements can be made, and media research, for traditional, digital, social media, and search engine marketing. Full-service marketing agencies may also offer public relations and social media research and strategy, as well as production and creative services, and consumer research, and brand development. All of these services are done in an effort to improve connections with the customers and boost sales.

The marketing industry is a relatively young industry. It began in the early 1900s, when scholars started to study the relationship between sellers and buyers. By the 1950s, competition between companies was keen. The common tactic of selling as much product as possible without considering what customers wanted had saturated the market. Companies wanted to streamline their sales process and make their sales transactions more efficient and effective, so they started to take buyers into account.

Reasons to choose Augmented and Virtual Reality for Marketing and Advertising Industry

Emotional Connection

Augmented reality ads are immersive, which means they help marketers create a certain emotional connection with customers. Unlike images or banners, for example, AR ads are interactive and lifelike: consumers can see and even interact with them.

Imagine, for instance, an eye-catching billboard advertising a just-released movie. Now think of the magic AR can do: passers-by point their smartphone cameras at the billboard and watch the trailer on their smartphone screens. Which of these two strategies (a billboard or an AR ad) is likely to incite more interest? No doubt, most customers will opt for an AR ad.

Interacting with AR ads, consumers feel like they’re playing an engaging video game. This builds an emotional connection with customers, encouraging them to make purchases. Needless to say, an emotional connection is a great tool for increasing brand awareness. People better recall brands they have positive associations with, so AR ads are perfect not only for promoting sales, but also for building a company’s reputation.

This strategy was used in the Arctic Home Campaign by Coca-Cola and the World-Wide Fund. The campaign, aimed at the protection of polar bears and their natural habitat, included an augmented reality event at the Science Museum in London. Visitors could see themselves interacting with virtual animals in their natural environment. This event helped the Coca-Cola company create deep emotional connections between people and the brand.


Augmented reality offers the opportunity to deepen the digital storytelling experience. A new path that leads away from the abstract depiction of objects on a flat screen towards a more visceral sense of real life scale and physicality. Here we must pause to mention that in virtual reality, where viewers are immersed in a virtual world, also has powerful storytelling capabilities. Both AR and VR can make characters come alive. In VR you live in their world, while in AR can characters step out of the screen into your world.

AR has the potential to be as disruptive as TV. Not only as a new technology but a whole new medium which will develop its own conventions because the audience is no longer a passive recipient of a story when watching it on the screen. They become active participants – interacting with it through the screen. It’s powerful, as this kind of engagement elicits more emotions and will leave a longer lasting impression.

Media companies including The New York Times and Washington Post are exploring the potential of augmented reality to add value to news reporting. To help to satisfy the craving of audiences to get closer to the story. They understand that despite all the camera angles, watching sports on TV creates an experience where you are “passively cocooned on the couch as a mere spectator to miniaturized athletes squeezed through a two-dimensional plane. Their Olympians AR feature stories try to break this mold encouraging viewers to actively engaging by walking around the life-sized athletes suspended in action or see athletes’ race across the table.

A different approach to AR storytelling is taken by Quartz, illustrating text-based stories with augmented objects. The 3D object is not trying to tell the whole story itself, but is replacing flat photos and videos as a more impactful visual communication tool. Providing additional context to the news story told through text. John Keefe from Quartz stated that two-thirds of people who are presented with the possibility of seeing something in AR will do so. Indicating a desire of readers to get closer to the story.

Put Products in the Hands of the User

“Try before you buy” was the axiom of offline. “Free returns” the conversion mantra of online. Neither is as powerful as product visualization in AR.

IKEA perfectly incorporates AR into their marketing strategy in a way that solves a real problem. You can understand how a piece of furniture, in the exact proportions, will look like in your own home. Allowing customers to test the product as they would already own it, reducing returns and regrets.And IKEA is not alone.

WayFair (via their app) and Target (via their mobile site) have both integrated AR into their digital catalogs. Amazon (via their app) has also begun to offer preview-in-place functionality on thousands of items. But it’s not just big retailers exploring AR product visualization.

With people can preview over 2 million pieces of art and customize the frame through AR. Similarly, Dulux allows to visualize what color to paint your walls.Each of these is a practical use case where augmented reality adds significant value to the experience. With AR, you are changing the current visual state of a space.

To see something is more impactful than just trying to visualize it in your own mind. It’s a powerful trigger for that “have to have it moment.” Not only making the decision easier, but making shopping more personalized and fun. The key challenge is how to let customers know you have the option of virtual try on. Including an AR component in your existing app is one proven method. But you can get more creative. Stockless pop-up stores with images as markers, billboards, magazine ads – each of these is an opportunity to trigger an augmented version of the product. Such a strategy may have given Lacoste’s AR virtual try-on experience more reach than the 15,000 users they achieved via their app.Virtual try-before-you-buy, to show products in the context of how they will actually be used, are ideal ground-level use cases for how marketers can use AR .In other marketing channels, there is a much-boarded gap between the experience and the product. What’s more, the scope of the channel often requires generalized messaging.

Focus User Attention

So far, we have focused on augmented reality experiences that add objects to the real world. But there is just as much opportunity in using AR to help consumers focus on specific items that would otherwise be lost in the array of visual clutter.

Let’s take the situation of shopping in a supermarket. What I don’t mean by focusing user attention is some dystopian shopping experience where you’re bombarded by special offers.By focusing user attention, I mean truly useful applications for an easier in-store experience. Package design in recent years hasn’t made nutritional information easily accessible.Rather than staring at small print labels or Googling it for every individual product, why not utilize AR to highlighting food that fits my dietary requirements, be that without nuts, or gluten-free or low calorie?

Similar selection bias could be utilized when trying to find the right bus in a new city, looking for a dog friendly cafe nearby or identifying the most relevant contacts at a networking event.

VR and AR Marketing Examples in Different Industries

Even though VR and AR are both still quite new in marketing, there are some re-occurring strategies that seem to be popular with certain products and services. I’ll go through some of the more common ones, but at the same time it’s good to remember that there are no one right way of doing things. With enough imagination and modification, all these strategies can be used to market just about anything.

Sports Industry

Starting from the sports industry, many fitness centres are offering 360-degree tours on YouTube to show off their venue to potential customers. This makes it possible to get to know the gym from home and see if it has the space and everything the customer would need and want from their gym.

What we’ll also see more is people exercising in VR through simulators and gamification. A company called VirZOOM is selling exercise bikes with handlebar buttons for game controls, so you can play VR cycling games while you exercise. In games like car racing and tank battling for example, the only way to move your “car” or “tank” is by cycling. (TechCrunch, 2017.) This kind of modern VR exercising is great news for marketers, if they’re able to do some digital product placement in the VR apps, where the user will not be able to miss it. Live stream sports events will also come available for everyone through VR, and it will come with the various views to see the game. You could be watching the game from the best seats, or from the “eyes” of the goal keeper for example. VR can also be used to give the viewer a sneak peek to what a game day experience would be like in the premium club, or to give special behind-the-scenes access that would not otherwise be possible.

Live stream sports events will also come available for everyone through VR, and it will come with the various views to see the game. You could be watching the game from the best seats, or from the “eyes” of the goal keeper for example. VR can also be used to give the viewer a sneak peek to what a game day experience would be like in the premium club, or to give special behind-the-scenes access that would not otherwise be possible.

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Food Industry

Some of the biggest challenges for the food industry are spreading knowledge of their products and ingredients, and for restaurants it would be to attract more regular customers. Food manufacturers and grocery stores focus a lot on visual content, so I’m sure VR and AR will come in very handy, especially once the graphics reach their maximum potential. To make regular customers, you need to offer something that makes it beneficial and/or interesting for the customer to keep coming back. This is usually done with offering discounts, or by organizing events of some sort.

Food and beverage manufacturers have started using VR to share their brand message through immersive storytelling. A French cheese manufacturer Boursin takes the viewer into a VR fridge tour to show which foods work well with the cheese. And a premium tequila brand Patrón shows the viewer the entire manufacturing process in VR through the eyes of a bee, starting from the very beginning with the pollination of the blue agave plant, from which tequila is made of. (Food Navigator 2017.) Marketing through VR storytelling seem to be very popular right now, as [image: Image result for patron ar vr]it’s more immersive than AR. After VR headsets hit the mainstream in a more mobile and compact way, we might see more of this kind of marketing.

Another clever marketing trick was done during the Pokémon GO boom in the summer of 2016, but which can still work if you manage to keep up with the game’s newest updates. What the smart restaurant and cafeteria owners and the like would do, assuming they have a PokéStop near their venue, is create a PoGo account, and use that account to buy “lures”, and then use those lures on their closest PokéStop, to attract hungry/thirsty PoGo players. One lure lasts for 30 minutes, and random pokémons will spawnnear that PokéStop during that time. If the player knows that the lure will be on for longer than 30 minutes, they might as well take a break at the coffee shop/restaurant and eat or drink something while playing the game at the same time. Now, since the biggest boom is over, it would make more sense to wait until there are certain events taking place in the game, before taking advantage of PoGo marketing. For example, many of the not-so-active players become more active again during double-exp, or double-candy events, when you get double experience points and loot from the pokémons you catch during the event. These events last for a week or so, and this is when you should be using your lures to attract customers. Also, during some of the events, the lures will last for an hour instead of 30 minutes, so it makes even more sense to use them to your advantage. Another perfect time for lures is when new pokémons are added to the game. That is also when players get very active again, and will hang out near lures. I’ve played Pokémon GO since it came out, and have personally seen how many people simple events can attract to certain locations. It is also interesting, how international players visiting Finland, occasionally join Finnish PokémonGo Facebook groups just to ask which are the best locations to play. Patron VR Marketing

Automotive Industry

Buying a car can be a very big investment, so customers will want to be very convinced of their choice before purchasing. Sellers job is to make this easy for them, by offering tools and ways to compare their options. This is why the automotive industry has been all over AR lately. Volvo promoted its S60 model by creating an AR experience on YouTube, where the users could drive a virtual car by tilting their smartphone left and right. Volvo said there was an outstanding traffic increase of 293% to (CommsCo 2016.)

AR has also been used in letting potential consumers personalize and build their own cars. Jeep dealership visitors are given tablets with an app that lets them explore the Compass car via 360-degree camera options. They can change the cars’ external colors and go through different wheel options, and also open car doors to check out detailed interiors. (Marketing Week, 2017.)

Other cool and useful AR creations in the automotive industry are AR manuals, which help the user with car maintenance and by introducing different car parts to the user through an AR app. Hyundai made an app called the Virtual Guide, which does just that. By using the app to get an AR view of the interior of the car or the engine compartment, floating little dots will appear on the screen showing all points of interest in that view. Tapping one of the dots will give the user an illustrated, step-by-step walkthrough on how that exact maintenance item works. Inside the car, it would give tutorials on how certain functions, like pairing a cell phone with Bluetooth is done. (The Verge 2016.

Entertainment Industry

The VR/AR consumer market in entertainment was the first to develop and is believed to grow to 216 million users by 2025 (Goldman Sachs 2016). For the entertainment industry, both VR and AR can help with creating memorable experiences for their audience. I believe VR and AR has worked best in the entertainment industry, because these technologies alone are a type of entertainment, so it’s quite easy to come up with ways to implement them in the game, movie and music industry for example.

VR and AR have worked perfectly in the game industry and especially VR has taken gaming into a completely different level. The gaming experience intensifies as the player becomes more immersed in the game. Instead of sitting in front of a screen, players are now able to play games while moving around. This is also being improved as developers and engineers try to create a dreadmill-type of equipment for players, where they can safely run and walk around while wearing their headset, without the fear of running into a wall or knocking things over.

In April 2017, Gorillaz, a British virtual band, made a VR music video for YouTube and it got over 3 million views in the first 48 hours. The famous singer Björk also made a cool VR music video setting the viewer in a magical underwater world. With this kind of immersion, viewers get a chance to really become a part of the story. The entertainment industry knows that people are craving for adventure, and it has started to use VR and AR to give people what they want. (ViarBox 2017.)

A number of movie theatres have experimented AR marketing with apps that work by scanning movie posters in the theatre lobby or movie ads on magazines. The AR app then brings up information like a trailer and premiere date, and also serves as a jumping point to buy tickets or visit the movies’ website. (AppReal 2017.) Adding AR elements especially into posters lobbies and bus stops is a brilliant idea, as people tend to already have their smartphones in hand when they’re bored and waiting for something or someone.

Musicians today are mainly earning their living from concerts and merchandise (ViarBox 2017). Soon VR will be used to stream live 360-degree events, like concerts and theatrical performances, as it solves the issue of limited seating and makes events available to anyone anywhere. Watching an event in VR will make the user feel like they’re physically there with the best seat available. (GoldmanSachs 2016).

Architecture & Interior design

AR and VR are making life so much easier for architects, home buyers and interior designers as well as furniture stores. For example, Ikea has an AR application called Ikea Place with over 2000 products that the customer can place in his or her own home to see if the proportions of the products and furniture are correct, and if they match with the existing furniture and décor of that room. To see if an armchair fit in your living room, you just hold up your phone and use the camera to place the digital chair to wherever you want to put it in the room. This 3D furniture shows up at scale with 98% accuracy. (Wired 2017). This saves the customer the time of measuring rooms and spaces, as well as helps them choose the right products and colours for a visually pleasing interior. Home buyers can visit houses virtually from anywhere at any time. This will mean less travel expenses and time spent on going out to look at houses. Sellers and agents can sell homes faster when they can focus on marketing houses to only people who are really interested, instead of also to those who do not find the house worthy of consideration. (Forbes 2017). It’s quite likely this will be a very requested feature if not a requirement for the real estate agencies in the future.

Promising software tools have been developed for architects who’d prefer to visualize, create and edit their 3D models and plans in virtual reality. The advantage of moving from 2D design drawing and floor plants to a 3D environment makes communication between designers, clients and end users easier and more meaningful. This will allow clients and end users to recognize challenges and opportunities as they can better visualize the final product. Another interesting feature you can use with VR models is simulations. For example, if the client would like to know how well the designed hospital can be evacuated in case of a hurricane, it’s possible to run evacuation simulations on the VR model to see what kind of destruction the wind and rain can cause. (ArchDaily 2018).

Innovative examples of some major marketing and PR initiatives using AR and VR

New York Times

There’s no doubt that VR is a great medium to tell a visual story. A couple of years ago, the New York Times delivered Google Cardboard glasses to all of their subscribers in order to watch a VR film and then did it a few times over with different films. These glasses were only delivered to their most loyal customers, so they essentially acted as an incentive or reward for brand loyalty.The films specifically appealed to intellectuals and philanthropists that are likely to grace the list of the NYT’s audience: Seeking Pluto’s Frigid Heart offered the space-obsessed an opportunity to investigate the planet up-close and personal, and a documentary entitled The Displaced offered an intimate glimpse of the ways in which kids all over the world have been displaced by war.The emotional intensity that this experience provided viewers would have reinforced brand loyalty for all three of the products: the glasses, the New York Times, and the featured films.

The Outdoor Niche

The well-regarded hiking shoe brand Merrell created a unique experience as a part of launching their most innovative hiking shoe via TrailScape, a 4-D multisensory hiking experience. This was the first time a company had ever used a particular type of technology called Oculus Rift, which involves tactile elements of walking on different surfaces and even included obstacles such as rockslides that participants would have to navigate around.

This film premiered at the Sundance festival, which added another marketing element, which is cross-promoting outdoor gear with film. This was a completely immersive experience, which was no-doubt something that participants would remember for a long time.

The North Face did something similar by offering participants an opportunity to hike through Yosemite National Park as well as Nepal. This type of immersive experience is brilliant for such a specialized market. People were able to feel what it was like to explore, thus motivating them to actually have a reason to buy the shoes---or, of course, something similar in the Merrell brand.

The Home Improvement Niche

Lowe’s home improvement store set up a virtual reality initiative that allows customers into a Holoroom to help them see what their house will look like after desired home improvements. They also worked with Microsoft to create an experience that allowed customers to select designs and products to help them visualize what they might look like in their own homes. Soon to come is an integration of customer’s Pinterest boards.

The benefit of these types of initiatives is that the VR system is gathering customer data as a part of market research and this is incredibly valuable data to guide a marketing strategy.

IKEA also has a VR-based app that allows customers to “place” furniture into their homes to decide on the look, feel, and fit. This is probably one of the simplest, most accessible and most practical VR applications that we’ve seen to date.


A few years ago, Thomas Cook, a UK-based travel agency tried out a campaign that allowed travel agents to experience certain trips in order to promote them to clients, called “Try Before You Fly.” Although this particular campaign didn’t necessarily take off, it’s a prime example of the ways that we can use VR marketing through both the B2B and B2C tourism spheres. This is a growing trend today as many companies are not only advertising the tourism bit, but also accommodations are able to share an up-close experience of what it feels like to stay in their spaces.

Toms Shoes

Toms is a shoe company that’s known for their philanthropy. They give away a pair of shoes for every one that is purchased. Their ingenious VR tool was to create an experience of a giving trip where they would go to Peru and gift someone a shoe. They set this up in-store for customers to experience. This is a great example of using VR to appeal to touch into an emotional, feelings-based marketing campaign, which can be the most effective way of selling a product at the best of times.

McDonald’s Happy Goggles

Leave it to the biggest fast food company in the world to introduce a simplified VR experience that’s completely accessible to the under-12 set. McDonald’s has managed to create a Happy Meal Box that easily folds into a VR headset. The initiative was created based on Google Cardboard, which is their own slant on offering VR experiences to people in a simple, affordable format. The boxes even came with instructions on how to build their own at home.

In offering consumers an opportunity to build their own, as well as making it easy enough for kids to use, McDonald’s has paved the way, at least in one example, for this technology to be available to the masses as a simple, fun tool rather than a high-tech, ungraspable investment. It’s also a wonderful example of repurposing.

Volvo Test Drive

Possibly one of the best applications of VR is using it to test drive a car when you don’t have a dealership nearby, and that’s exactly what Volvo did a few years ago. They continue to come out with updated versions that are easily downloadable onto your mobile phone. This is another Google Cardboard initiative, which is also available as a downloadable app (even if you don’t have Google Cardboard).

This is a brilliant marketing move because, not only has it put Volvo on the map (again) for something innovative, it’s also accessible. They’re now offering a “weekend escape” version of the app which includes 360-degree landscapes, allowing adventurers a chance to cement the pairing of “adventure” and “Volvo” in their heads, something which, given the practical element of Volvo’s branding, may never have occurred before.

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Role Of Augmented Reality And Virtual Reality In Marketing And Advertising Industry. (2022, July 08). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 5, 2024, from
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