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Brands Boost Customer Engagement and Sales with Web AR (Part II)

After examining AR’s value for consumer brands in Part I, we pick up the discussion here…

by Patrick Johnson

AR marketing campaigns are more likely than traditional formats to convert browsers to buyers. Brands online typically have three to seven seconds to convert consumers. But with AR, dwell times are 75 seconds (4x that of mobile video). Memory response to AR is also 70 percent higher than non-AR.

AR ads meanwhile see a 520 percent increase in intent to purchase (95x the benchmark for non-AR). Virgin Holidays ran an AR-enabled email campaign that saw a 40 percent increase in open rates and a 75 percent increase in click-through-rates (CTR), a key indicator for engagement.

And with e-commerce making up 16.1 percent (about $4.2 trillion) of the overall retail market — and expected to reach 22 percent by 2023 — brands know they need to create standout digital shopping experiences. Shopify has already found that viewing 3D product visualizations result in a 2x boost (200 percent) in conversions.

In addition to these performance benefits, AR offers ways for brands to capture data on what customers like and dislike. This can be valuable in optimizing campaigns through targeted advertising, and “retargeting” services like Facebook Pixel, Google Ads, landing pages, or wish lists.

Does AR Really Boost eCommerce Conversions?

Caveat Emptor

Driven by these AR performance indicators, Rock Paper Reality (RPR) and the Microsoft Mixed Reality Capture Studio recently came together to create a first-of-its-kind holographic modeling and fashion platform that will soon be available to online retailers.

How will this platform improve online shopping? One of the biggest barriers to purchasing clothes and accessories online is the inability to see clothing at scale and in-person, reducing the confidence that products will look and fit as they do in 2D photos.

Studies have also shown that 72 percent of online shoppers use fit predictors and size charts; and 91 percent have ordered clothes that didn’t fit right. 37 percent regularly buy more than one size and return what doesn’t fit. That equates to huge return costs for online retailers who typically operate at thin margins to begin with.

But with this new holographic retail platform, users will be able to view diverse holographic models wearing clothing items at human scale in the real world. This improves buyer confidence — and thus the ability to reduce returns — by bringing the shopper face-to-face with products to inspect fit, look, and quality.

Does AR Really Reduce eCommerce Returns?

AR Gifting

Another option to connect with customers and improve loyalty is the developing art of AR Gifting. RPR collaborated with food & beverage software company Uptown Network to develop an AR gifting platform that helps brands transition from paper gift cards to novel AR-based gifting experiences.

This applies a proprietary photogrammetry process that lets customers send photorealistic, 3D representations of physical products that are digitally wrapped in custom wrapping paper and accompanied by a personalized video message. It can also transport customers to a 1-to-1 virtual representation of a brand’s store, showroom, or restaurant, making it an awareness and sales tool as well.

What’s the Holdup?

The metrics outlined above are enough to drive marketing teams to join the AR bandwagon. Yet, adoption still doesn’t reflect that sentiment.  A study from Boston Consulting Group found that 9/10 brands are using, or plan to use, AR in their marketing. But only 1/10 have actually done so.

So what’s the holdup? Brands are hesitant to invest before seeing what other brands are doing, including best practices and benchmarks. They still question how AR users map to their target personas. How do they deploy AR? What channels are best for them? How do they measure success? And at what point(s) should they insert AR along the customer journey?

These are the right questions because without carefully-considered approaches for exploring, deploying and validating AR marketing, brands won’t see the results they want. This is why RPR has developed an AR blueprint that guides data-driven and goal-oriented campaign launches. It includes mapping out the customer journey, pinpointing their pain points, and navigating campaign activations accordingly. This type of structure and framework is required in AR marketing’s early days.

The Future of Commerce

Brands like Unity, Facebook and Snapchat are already jumping on web AR to push forward its ubiquity. So expect to see native AR ads on many of the platforms you already know and love.

Soon enough, an ad for an IKEA couch will come across your Instagram feed. And within a couple of clicks, you’ll be able to place that couch in your room and see exactly how it fits. The success factors will be connected, seamless and engaging experiences that meet consumers where they are, drive sales, and elevate brand loyalty to new levels.

Patrick Johnson is Co- Founder of Rock Paper Reality


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