Student Perspective: Augmented Reality is the Next Era of Marketing

Augmented Reality Class with Professor ScholzMarketing student Molly Keenan talks to Cal Poly Professor Joachim Scholz about the rise of augmented reality (AR). AR is taking off, with 33 percent of marketers in a recent survey planning to incorporate AR into their marketing strategies. Hear her perspective on the movement that will forever change the marketing industry:

Marketing has seen some changes over the years. As technology has developed, marketing has evolved from traditional to digital to social. The next big transformation to take the marketing world by storm will be augmented reality.

Augmented reality, AR, is a new emerging technology that places digital content  over real world spaces.

Traditional marketing is all about expanding a brand’s reach and conveying a specific message. Social media marketing is about maximizing interactions with consumers and embedding a brand into conversations.

Augmented reality marketing, on the other hand, does all of the above.

Dr. Joachim Scholz, a Marketing professor at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and AR marketing expert, believes AR allows marketers to create a stronger, more meaningful connection with their consumers by having the brand embedded into their physical, everyday lives.

This new space of AR interests Scholz because it gives marketers the ability to interact with consumers on a whole other level.

“Everything you have around, like a desk, billboard advertisement, tree, suddenly becomes a surface for interaction, a user interface in a way, which is why very early on I thought this would fundamental transform how marketing works,” says Scholz.

Seeing the value AR can provide to marketers, Scholz and his co-author, Andrew Smith, published the first paper ever written on augmented reality marketing in the March 2016 issue of Business Horizons.

In their paper, “Augmented Reality: Designing immersive experiences that maximize customer engagement”, they provide a framework of how to use AR and guidelines for marketers to follow when creating a successful augmented reality campaign. Their paper won Business Horizon’s “2016 Paper of the Year.”

Shortly after their paper was published, augmented reality became a hot topic with the release of Pokemon Go and Snapchat’s AR selfie filters.

It has been an exciting time for augmented reality. Just a few weeks ago, Facebook, at its F8 conference, announced that they want to make AR its next major platform. Facebook is opening up their platform’s AR studio tool kit to individual developers so they can easily create AR content.

Other big companies like Apple, Alphabet, and Snap Inc. are continuing to develop this technology as well in terms of AR content and hardware like spectacles.

Right now hardware is limited to cameras on smart phones, but good content needs to be developed first. “Consumers will not buy a $500 device they put on their head if there is no real content out there,” says Scholz.

Companies embracing AR have recognized the need for great content and they are developing ways to make content creation easier for developers. Over the next couple years as content creation becomes easier to develop, it will make AR more fun and useful for the consumer. This will increase their willingness to pay for AR spectacles.

Once consumers adopt these AR glasses, Scholz believes it will kick AR into a whole new level. These devices will provide a direct channel into consumers’ lives where companies can serve content that is interesting and entertaining for consumers.

The future is bright for augmented reality marketing, which is why Scholz and Smith have developed an online blog called Marketing Squad. This blog is an online platform that provides an in-depth analysis of current AR campaigns and generalizing those examples to be applicable to all marketers on how to use AR and MR, mixed reality.

This platform is a space where they, their colleagues, and their students can share ideas about augmented reality marketing as well as other topics. Currently, Scholz teaches the only undergraduate marketing course in the nation that focuses on augmented reality.

In this course, students acquire first-hand experience in content marketing and become thought leaders in AR marketing, which are valuable skills for the job market. Throughout the quarter, students go through a multi-step drafting process of their blog on augmented reality marketing with guidance from Dr. Scholz in the hopes of it being published on Marketing Squad.

Students who provide the best blogs are invited to publish their piece on Marketing Squad. For example, Can Augmented Reality Revolutionize Nonprofit Marketing and How to Boost Customer Engagement with Augmented Reality are articles written by Cal Poly students.

Marketing Squad aims to be one of the best sources online for marketers to understand how to use AR and MR in their own marketing in order to better target their customers and create more value.

Currently, Scholz is working on a paper to help marketers make sense of AR and MR. His point is marketers need to change their marketing approach when using augmented reality.

“Marketers who are trying to apply the old same framework they are lugging around since 1980s will have problems,” says Scholz.

Just as social media marketing is completely different from traditional marketing, AR marketing is a whole new way of thinking.