Apple Offers a Glimpse of an Augmented Reality Future

Apple Offers a Glimpse of an Augmented Reality Future

Branding

Apple’s September 12 special event was mostly about hardware product launches, as it usually is. But Apple also reminded us of the company’s commitment to building an augmented reality future.

First, let’s recap a few of the big announcements:

  • Pushing into healthcare: Apple also revealed the latest version of the Apple Watch 4, which features a slew of personal wellness features such as the ability to monitor and report when the wearer experiences a fall and better heart monitoring/reporting. The Apple Watch is one essential element of Apple’s growth as a healthcare player, with the development of wellness apps being another essential element. In coming months, watch for Apple to make more announcements about healthcare as part of a broader strategy to develop its services.

The above announcements have dominated the news. In addition, two developments caught my eye:

  • Augmented reality for learning: the launch of a new iPhone app, HomeCourt, which uses augmented reality (AR) for basketball training. As reported in GeekWire, HomeCourt uses AR to track basketball shots. According to GeekWire, “AR tech built into the iPhone — including the newA12 Bionic chip— and artificial intelligence technology developed by HomeCourt maker Nex Team can detect a hoop and basketball to measure kinematics, trajectory, release times, and number of shots made.”
  • Augmented reality for play: the announcement about a new real-time augmented reality game, Galaga AR. As VentureBeat reported, “This AR adaptation of Galaga comes from Directive Games. When you look at your iPhone screen, you can see a bunch of alien-bug spaceships that you have to shoot down. You’re not only trying to survive, but you’re also trying to beat the other players. It was a pretty cool demo, with a lot of blasting onscreen and loud sounds.”

These launches are not so much about sports and gaming – they are signs of Apple’s continued growth as an AR leader. CEO Tim Cook has made no secret of his passion for AR. It’s telling that Apple demoed two very different forms of AR – one for training and one for entertainment. Both learning and entertainment comprise the sweet spot for AR.

As I noted earlier this year, various AR apps and games are currently being introduced into the App Store and Google Play, and many more are in the process of being developed using Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore. Consequently, incorporating AR technology into new tools or games for phones, tablets, and laptops will become the new norm.

You can take it to the bank: AR is going to continue growing for both business and pleasure – and Apple will have a leadership role in that growth. For more insight into how businesses can use AR to build their brands, contact True Interactive.

Facebook Changes the Narrative at F8

Facebook Changes the Narrative at F8

Social media

The 2018 Facebook F8 Developer Conference created an opportunity for Facebook to change the narrative about the embattled company. At the annual event, Facebook usually unveils new products and a glimpse at the company’s future. This year’s event just happened to occur only weeks after CEO Mark Zuckerberg spent two days on Capitol Hill defending the company’s approach to data privacy. So you can be sure Facebook was eager to inspire coverage about something besides Mark Zuckerberg going head to head with angry legislators and trying to assure investors that Facebook is improving its approach to protecting user data.

And Facebook delivered with a slew of announcements and demonstrations that reminded Facebook watchers of its commitment to connecting people through an ever-evolving social platform. Highlights included:

  • FaceDate, a dating feature in which Facebook members can make their profiles to non-friends who opt in to look for someone to date. With FaceDate, Facebook is reinforcing its core mission of connecting people, a mission that Facebook periodically updates as it did last year with the rollout of the “bring the world closer together” mantra. It looks as though Facebook wants to bring the world closer together one person at a time and in relationships that go beyond friending. It’s a reasonable move that doesn’t stray too far from Facebook on its best day: connecting people.
  • Augmented and virtual reality: Facebook has been marching down a path of creating augmented and virtual reality experiences for some time, as manifested by the purchase of VR firm Oculus in 2014. In 2016, Mark Zuckerberg placed AR/VR at the far end of a 10-year roadmap. Facebook F8 showed that Facebook appears to be right on schedule. The company released Oculus Go, a lightweight, relatively affordable VR headset that liberates VR from the confines of a stationary computer. Oculus Go is important because it’s supposed to make VR more affordable while delivering a reasonably high-quality VR experience. Meanwhile, on the AR front, Facebook showed off progress with its AR camera for interacting with AR content in the real world. Among other announcements, Facebook disclosed that AR is coming to its Messenger platform.

Facebook also embedded AR into the actual F8 experience, such as with an AR scavenger hunt in which participants looked for objects using their devices. Through the hunt, Facebook tested with the camera (accessible from inside Facebook) by, in effect, relying on F8 attendees as the test group. Although there is nothing inherently new about an AR scavenger hunt, the hunt gave Facebook a chance to test target-recognition technology, which unlocks AR effects without requiring you to tap on your camera app. The feature is not yet available and so F8 amounted to a beta test.

For two days, Facebook succeeded in repositioning itself as a media company shaping the future of social experiences. Some of the news coverage reflects the kind of narrative Facebook wanted to tell at F8:

Never mind that Facebook’s AR and VR experiences still come down to providing developing tools disconnected from consistently good content. What matters is that Facebook changed the narrative. For a larger rundown of everything Facebook announced at F8, go here. And contact us to discuss how to build your brand on Facebook.

Google Pushes Businesses Toward an Augmented Reality Future

Google Pushes Businesses Toward an Augmented Reality Future

Marketing

I recently blogged about businesses adopting augmented reality to make the consumer experience more dynamic and exciting. On March 14, Google reminded businesses that augmented reality is coming whether they use it or not. The search giant and media company said that it has developed a tool that makes it possible for developers to turn Google Maps locations into augmented reality enhanced make-believe settings.

In a blog post, Google said,

The mobile gaming landscape is changing as more and more studios develop augmented reality games. In order to mix realities, developers first need to understand the real world — the physical environment around their players. we’re excited to announce a new offering for building real-world games using Google Maps’ tried-and-tested model of the world.

Game studios can easily reimagine our world as a medieval fantasy, a bubble gum candy land, or a zombie-infested post-apocalyptic city. With Google Maps’ real-time updates and rich location data, developers can find the best places for playing games, no matter where their players are.

Now let’s connect the dots about what’s going on here. Remember how the skyrocketing popularity of Pokémon GO turned real-world businesses into make-believe Poké Stops and Gyms where Pokémon GO players could do battle with Pokémon and collect rewards? Well, nearly two years later, millions of people still play Pokemon GO, proving that a game using augmented reality:

  • Has staying power.
  • Can draw people to real-world location – creating foot traffic and sales for brick-and-mortar businesses such as coffee shops, stores, and restaurants.

Now, we’re seeing an explosion of more games that will probably have the same impact on businesses – experiences such as the forthcoming Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, Jurassic World Alive, Ghostbusters World, and Walking Dead: Our World.  All those augmented reality games are coming in 2018, and the Jurassic World, Ghostbusters, and Walking Dead games were developed with the Google ARCore toolkit for developing augmented reality experiences.

Here’s what’s going to happen this summer:

  • An uptick of augmented reality promotions from the studios producing the movies associated with the games. These promotions will likely involve co-brands with restaurants and other locations where fans can play the games.
  • Brick-and-mortar businesses jumping on to the augmented reality bandwagon when they see how many consumers are using their mobile phones to play the games near their locations, even if those businesses don’t co-brand with studios. We’ll have businesses promoting themselves as the hottest place for Harry Potter fans to battle Lord Voldemort, and stores offering promotions for fans to celebrate the joy of playing Ghostbusters together – just as brick-and-mortar companies did with Pokémon GO at the height of its popularity.

At the center of all this action: Google. Google, like Apple, is developing the tools to make augmented reality spread. Google sees the future and wants to be an active participant by creating augmented reality based marketing and advertising of its own. And Google has the power to shape that future.

By making an augmented reality toolkit available, Google is opening the door for many, many more augmented reality games to get developed way beyond the major titles being released by studios and Niantic (creator of Pokémon Go and the new Harry Potter game). If Google has its way, more businesses and developers will work together to create their own customized games relying on a business’s location. The development could become huge – or also create some augmented reality burnout if too many games get developed at once. Ultimately, consumers will decide which games win and which ones fall by the wayside. As Pokémon GO showed, people will respond to an experience that engages them.

To discuss how to create a more engaging digital brand, contact us. We’re here to help.

ARe You Ready for Augmented Reality?

ARe You Ready for Augmented Reality?

Marketing

Glasses. Lenses. Apps. Games. Ads. These are all examples of products and experiences being shaped by augmented reality (AR). While not entirely new, AR will become an increasingly popular tool used to engage shoppers throughout 2018.  Various apps and games are currently being introduced into the App Store and Google Play, and many more are in the process of being developed using Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore. Consequently, incorporating AR technology into new tools or games for phones, tablets, and laptops will become the new norm.

The last few years have brought a glimpse of what augmented reality can do. Popular apps such as the Pokémon GO game, Ikea Place, Fitness AR, and MeasureKit introduced the world of augmented and virtual reality to our actual reality. Unlike VR, which creates a false reality, AR enhances your surroundings and adds to your current reality.

Snapchat

One example of a brand already incorporating AR is Snapchat. Snapchat introduced AR advertising features through its lenses and is launching a new AR Lens Studio. Brands are able to use these lenses to advertise their products as well as their brand name on social media in a more interactive setting. What sets these lenses/filters apart is the more engaging and lively nature of the tool. Customers are generally more inclined to convert when they are given an actual experience. The lenses also make for a more memorable and fun way to target millennials.

Shopping Ads

Augmented reality will also enhance how shopping ads operate. Online shoppers sometimes miss out on the in-store experience when searching for a product or service through the web. The use of AR will help create this virtual experience for online shoppers, increasing engagement rates, building brand awareness, and potentially drive conversions. AR will enhance these ads to be more interactive and memorable because AR makes it possible for users to view much more than a flat image. Imagine being able to view a product in its actual setting, sampling clothing without having to drive to a store, or even taking a 360-degree tour of how furniture will look inside your own home before you decide to make a purchase. In fact, the Ikea Place AR app provides this functionality already. Place allows for users to sample furniture within the comfort of their own homes.

Another app similar to Ikea Place is from Houzz. Its app allows the users to virtually remodel or redecorate their homes before actually committing to these larger, more permanent changes. AR makes it possible to configure a potential purchase from the comfort of your own home, saving you time from having to make returns when a product doesn’t work well, or even previewing renovation changes before they take place. Experiences such as these represent the future of shopping ads.

What to Expect

Apple and Google have already created their own AR software kits and introduced them into their operating software — Apple’s ARKit in iOS11 and Android’s ARCore. Many resourceful apps have already been launched using this technology. In January 2018, Apple announced that many “customers are now enjoying close to 2,000 ARKit-enabled apps spanning every category on the App Store.” From these platforms, we can expect to see more apps include AR features. From games, fitness tracking and coaching apps, to shopping tools and travel apps that include interactive maps — the list of uses for augmented reality goes on and on.

The technology to improve these apps will still be developing well into 2018, but we can expect to see more and more businesses incorporate AR into their marketing strategies. ARe you ready for what 2018 and the world of augmented reality will bring?

 

True Interactive Predicts 6 Digital Marketing Trends to Watch in 2018

True Interactive Predicts 6 Digital Marketing Trends to Watch in 2018

Marketing

What trends will influence how businesses spend their digital marketing dollars in 2018? To find the answers, we asked our own people. The following six predictions from True Interactive employees cover a lot of ground befitting the sprawling nature of digital marketing. Our predictions include:

  • A big year for augmented reality – for both brands and consumers.
  • Possibly rough sailing ahead for Facebook, but exciting times for LinkedIn.
  • A more thoughtful approach to influencer marketing.
  • Growth of visual search.

Check out the following predictions, and let us know how you believe 2018 will shape up for your business. Thank you to True Interactive employees for sharing your thoughts! Learn more about our subject matter experts here.

Augmented Reality

In 2018 the use of Augmented Reality will become an increasingly popular tool used to engage shoppers. Online shoppers sometimes miss out on the in-store experience when searching for a product or service through the web. The use of AR will help create this virtual experience for online shoppers; in return it will increase engagement rates, brand awareness, and hopefully conversions. While the technology to effectively use AR will still be developing well into 2018, I predict that many companies will begin to incorporate these features into their brand awareness and digital marketing strategy. —Bella Schneider, digital marketing associate

Facebook

With the recent admission by former Facebook executives that the social media platform was designed to get its users addicted and that it is ripping apart the social fabric of how society works, 2018 might be the year we see a significant decline in active users. Although industry analysts have been predicting a reduction in Facebook users for the past few years, the fact that ex-Facebook executives are admitting guilt over the monster they’ve created might finally be the wakeup call that many social media users have been waiting for. If Facebook usage does suffer a significant decline, it’s fair to expect that marketers will also see diminished performance from their Facebook ads. Many advertisers use the Facebook advertising platform as a brand awareness tactic, paying advertising fees based on the number of times an ad is shown versus the number of times someone interacts with an ad. In 2018, advertisers will need to keep a watchful eye on Facebook as an advertising platform. — Beth Bauch, senior manager

Influencer Outreach

Celebrity influencer outreach took a major hit in 2017 through some dubious events such as the collapse of the Fyre Festival, which relied on influencer outreach to lure tourists to a disastrous event. But influencer outreach is alive and well. Why? Because people tend to trust other people more than they do brands. Businesses will get more micro-targeted with influencer outreach in 2018, segmenting audiences more carefully and building outreach around influencers who index high in popularity and credibility with those audiences even if those influencers lack national cache. Influencer outreach will become more targeted and scientific. — Mark Smith, co-founder

LinkedIn

LinkedIn will become a more popular platform for companies to build their brands. LinkedIn has been adding a number of features such as Matched Audiences and Website Retargeting to make it a stronger advertising platform. As my colleague Beth Bauch noted on our blog, recently LinkedIn ran a pilot program with more 370 participating advertisers and saw a 30-percent increase in click-through rates and a 14-percent drop in post-click cost-per-conversion with Website Retargeting. In early 2018, LinkedIn is going to launch for enterprises organic videos and then native sponsored videos in its feed, thus capitalizing on the more visually oriented culture we have become. Businesses should take a closer look at LinkedIn as part of their advertising and content marketing strategies. —Taylor Murphy, digital media manager

Social Media

Social media will remain a messy and imperfect place for brands to live. The major platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube will roll out more programs to police user activity on their sites in an effort to protect their integrity for advertisers. Recently we saw YouTube do just that by committing to hiring more people to teach computers to police its site, which YouTube hopes will prevent advertisers’ content from appearing next to inappropriate content. But as my colleague Tim Colucci argued recently, YouTube’s ad problems aren’t going away. Social media sites have become incredibly effective destinations for advertisers and will continue to be. But part of the appeal of social media is its openness. On social media, anyone can have an opinion. In 2018, advertisers will need to come to terms with the imperfect nature of social while capitalizing on its many advantages.  — Kurt Anagnostopolous, owner/founder

 Visual Search

As voice-based search continues to gain momentum, 2018 will bring more interest onto visual search. Although they both use artificial intelligence, they have a different focus, thus their use is not the same. Voice search is best suited for providing access to information on known objects, as systems become more capable distinguishing the context of a certain request. Visual search, on the other hand, is ideal for in-the-moment discovery, as it can provide contextual information for any object we can see. Now that Google has improved its visual analysis software Google Lens, and Pinterest has adopted the trend with Pinterest Lens, we’ll most likely see more social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram exploiting visual discovery technology. In this way, they could serve ads based on what people take pictures of. They could even combine location service intelligence with visual product recognition technology to provide even more relevant ads. So if you snap a selfie at McDonalds, and you are wearing a Nike hat, you will be served ads from Burger King and Reebok on Snapchat. —Héctor Ariza, digital marketing associate

Image source: ancient-code.com