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Don’t believe the AR Hype? Maybe you should.

Should we all be embracing Augmented Reality? Or is it just an over-hyped distraction from developing your core marketing strategy? Well, let’s have a look.


Don’t believe the AR Hype? Maybe you should.

New technological innovations not only go through a rigorous (and sometimes torturous) process through to launch, but this is just the start. There’s a whole new journey they must battle their way through before they become accepted as a credible and viable solution.

Heard of a company called Gartner? Well here at CE, we kind of like this product of theirs. The much-acclaimed Hype Cycle. The aim of the Hype Cycle is to attempt to plot technology hype at the appropriate point along this journey to help ‘discern the hype from what’s commercially viable.’

AR_graph

The cycle begins with the ‘Innovation Trigger’ which represents a technology’s breakthrough into the market. What follows is a steep upward trajectory Gartner calls the ‘Peak of Inflated Expectations’ – this is where the majority of new technologies sit, predominantly as a result of publicity. The cycle then dives down into the ‘Trough of Disillusionment’ as interest in the technology starts becoming fatigued and falls away. Onwards to the ‘Slope of Enlightenment’ where more instances around the benefits of the technology become apparent. For those technologies then lucky enough to make it, you hit the ‘Plateau of Productivity’ which is the point it becomes commercially viable and mainstream adoption starts to take off.

So, let’s look at Augmented Reality (AR). AR is an interesting one. In Gartner’s 2017 version of the Hype Cycle, AR sits firmly in the bowels of the ‘Trough of Disillusionment’.

However, some would say AR is fast approaching mainstream adoption as an ever-increasing number of brands embrace it and customers become increasingly familiar and comfortable with this technology. For retail brands such as Ikea and Wayfair, AR is helping consumers place scaled versions of their products in their homes. Using a phone’s camera, customers can pick a couch, set it anywhere they’d like in their home and see how it looks.

“It’ll become second nature,” said Shrenik Sadalgi from Wayfair speaking to AdWeek. “Viewing a product in your room will be almost mandatory at some point.”

Others are more sceptical over this technology seeing it very much as a distraction on our core role as marketeers. At a recent Marketing Week conference, Marketing professor, Mark Ritson put it to the audience that technologies – he refers to as ‘techno-porn’ – such as AR, VR and BitCoin are ‘fundamentally not relevant to almost every one of you in this room.’ He explained that this obsession with technology is ‘Distracting you from your real job and the big challenges that we all face.’

Here at CE we’ve had a dabble in AR both for our own marketing – with our last customer Christmas Card – and most recently for our client Grange Fencing in partnership with Brookes & Co where we launched something in-line with Ikea and Wayfair’s functionality enabling you to place garden furniture products against the backdrop of your own garden.

Our take on the argument is that AR must enhance the customer journey and / or make the sales process easier if it is to have long-term success. Do we believe the Hype? Yes, but we’re still very early in this technology’s journey.

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Matthew Bowell – head of client service and operations

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