Augmented reality is boldly going nowhere

Lara O’Reilly is Marketing Week’s digital and telecoms specialist and here she gives her own view on what companies from Apple to Zynga are up to in the wired world of the web.

Augmented reality sounds so space age, but in the real world, it’s as naff as 1990s Star Trek (Deep Space Nine – of course).

Apps like Layar, which was originally developed to help users explore cities by holding up their smartphones to the street to be presented with further information from Wikipedia, YouTube et al., were filled with such hope, such promise…

And then brands got involved.

We’ve seen everything here at Marketing Week, from cereal boxes that turn into birds, to milkshake bottles that turn into babes.

The latest example comes from Cadbury, as part of their Spots v Stripes Olympics campaign.

The app (Blippar) recognises the Cadbury bars linked to the sponsorship activity – which, alone, is impressive – and then allows users to play a loosely related game.

The video below probably explains it better:

I just have one question regarding this app: why?

Firstly, the game seemingly has no added benefit from being in augemented reality, in fact, it actually hampers with the gameplay and means it keeps pausing if you accidently jaunt your arm.

But the biggest why is aimed at the brand: why would consumers want to play this game? It adds little value to the brand experience and seems to have been created just because the technology is there, rather than using augmented reality to provide the consumer with something useful.

And that to me seems the problem with branded augmented reality as a whole: just because the technology is there, doesn’t mean brands should just jump in and use it. Without adding value to the consumer it’s a waste of money and could actually reflect badly on your brand.

I’m not looking to discredit the idea of augmented reality as a whole, there’s plenty of ways it could be implemented practically or as a form of entertainment.

Please feel free to correct me, I would love to see some really creative examples of augmented reality utilised by brands in the right way.

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