Telefonica in augmented reality drive for brands

Telefonica’s global digital division has forged a partnership with HP-owned Aurasma to integrate augmented reality into the digital marketing services it offers brands.

Telefonica Digital has penned a deal with software company Aurusma to roll out augmented reality promotions across its services.

The O2 owner claims the deal is the biggest ever in the augmented reality space, offering advertisers the potential to reach 300 million customers worldwide.

The partnership will allow brands to use augmented reality in marketing campaigns alongside existing services such as location-based promotions and mobile coupons. Telefonica will also look to increase the distribution of Aurasma’s app through its mobile customer base as well as use augmented reality in its own marketing campaigns. It will initially roll out in the UK through O2 and offered to brands through O2 Media.

Telefonica Digital brokered the deal and says that that “augmented reality has the potential to fundamentally change advertising.” Brands such as Kellogg’s and Universal are increasingly turning to augmented reality, which is forecasted to be worth $600bn (£369.4m) by 2016, according to analyst firm Semico.

Shaun Gregory, global director of advertising at Telefonica Digital, adds that traditional forms of advertising such as outdoor and print are struggling to deliver a “multifaceted experience”.

He says: “One of the big trends in the advertising sector is that brands and agencies are looking for more regional global solutions. I don’t see anybody else in the market that can offer the geographical reach that we provide through our global customer base and the levels of interactivity that Aurasma can bring to static advertising channels.

“Augmented reality can drive better click throughs, mobile purchases and campaign performance for advertisers.”

Since its launch in 2011, Aurasma’s augmented reality technology has been used by about 4 million people, according to the company. Matt Mills head of global partnerships at the business says this figure is “niche” and adds that the Telefonica deal could multiply those numbers by a hundred.

He says: “Brands can now run augmented-reality campaigns with the reach that comes from being part of a widely accepted advertising platform. Whereas traditionally augmented reality has been a niche channel for brands it’s going to be at the forefront of the consumer experiences on mobile now.”

The partnership is part of a wider strategy from Telefonica to adopt new technology much faster than it has done in the past as it looks to compete with the mobile advertising solutions of companies such as Facebook and Google. It formed Telefonica Digital last year to spearhead the move that includes investing in areas such as video and online content as well as online payment systems.

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