As augmented reality applications continue to appear, many marketers and technologist ponder the endless implications of this new technology. Currently, developers are using AR to develop applications for a variety of uses such as directions, gaming or entertainment, browsing physical landscapes, identifying objects, or location based communication. The most practical use for AR comes from apps such as Yelp or Bionic Eye. These AR apps help users identify locations based on informational overlays that may contain distance, pictures, brand images, direction etc. This new form of "search" presents a number of challenges and opportunities for marketers. As consumers begin to adopt this technology, it will become very important that businesses consider how people view their location through these AR applications. When we look at an application like Bionic Eye, we see that it displays digital images over the real-time video. Currently, within Bionic Eye these digital images only identify locations and provide distances and direction. Soon enough, these digital images could act as display advertisements, providing information, special offers, and most importantly reviews.
In the most recent Nielsen Online Global Survey, over 90% of consumers said they trust recommendations from people they know, while 70% trusted consumer reviews online. These overwhelming numbers make personal acquaintances and opinions posted by consumers online, the most trusted forms of advertising globally. This should come as no surprise as information overload plagues modern society. How else are consumers and businesses supposed to sort through the noise? Most seek out trusted opinions that help them make decisions, whether it be a close circle of friends or a review site on the internet. Amazon was one of first businesses to understand the importance of product reviews. Today, most of their best selling products have positive reviews. There is a clear correlation between good reviews and sales, and products are not the only thing being reviewed online. Reviews exist for a good majority of services industries ranging from restaurants and travel, (UrbanSpoon and Tripadvisor), to automotive and healthcare (JeepReview & Rate-my-doctor).
So what is the implication for augmented reality? Developers can integrate ratings and reviews into their augmented reality applications. Consumers trust this information to make decisions, especially around service related businesses such as restaurants. Businesses should also embrace AR browsers to develop creative ways to market their business through AR. Retailers might use the digital display to advertise a sale or promotion, or contests could be held to identify clues shown only by AR apps. The possibilities really are limitless, but one social component that will increase in importance will be ratings and reviews displayed by the AR apps. For example, consumers could use augmented reality to identify products in-store and get real time consumer reviews, or they might search a new city for the highest rated restaurant. AR could potentially place the power of thousands of consumers in an individual's own pocket. The technology also may even raise some questions about privacy in the near future. Will this technology be able to recognize and identify people someday? Do we really want to see everyone's tweets as we walk down the street? Regardless, It will be interesting to see how this technology unfolds.
For more on ratings and reviews as the new advertising visit: http://trendwatching.com/briefing/