OOH Augmented Reality (AR): In the Beginning
Augmented Reality (AR) has leapt off the pages of sci-fi novels, on to our hand-held devices and virtually onto the streets we walk along. In just over a decade, the use of AR has blossomed across a broad range of business disciplines and markets. In the advertising world, it has certainly made its mark, with the likes of Snapchat and Pokémon Go helping to bring AR into the mainstream.
But away from handheld devices, AR has also come to carve out an impressive body of Digital Out-of-Home work – where digital experiences meet the real physical world. On a grander scale, public, large-format AR executions can immerse the audience in the theatre and spectacle, where people gather to watch and take part. AR on a large scale can be responsive and lifelike, helping marketers to create an emotional connection with consumers.
Consumers can meet and interact with their favorite TV characters, explore new products or become the main protagonist of the story. The result is positive brand associations and better recall, making OOH Augmented Reality perfect for both sales performance and brand awareness. There’s the social outreach too, with footage and UGC content gaining traction online and extending the life of the campaign across online and social channels.
OOH Augmented Reality: Through the Ages
In terms of OOH Augmented Reality events, it all began in 2009 with Hand from Above. This was followed by Lynx Angel Ambush, the first large-format branded AR execution to run OOH. It was pioneering for its time and won widespread industry approval as well as being applauded by the public. Shortly after saw Disney Parks ‘Memories’ pushing the boundaries with live-action characters augmented into Times Square, and multiple participants taking part simultaneously.
Other notable examples through the ages have been Heineken in Taiwan 2011, Nat Geo in 2011, The Walking Dead in Madrid 2014, Pepsi MAX in 2015, NTUC Fairprice in Singapore 2016, Emotion Triggered AR in London 2017, an interactive portal to L.A. from London for “Dr. Strange” and a Times Square vortex into the Spider-Verse for Marvel. Swiss World Cup fun from Coca-Cola in 2018. All advance different approaches and techniques, and their success shows that there is still a real appetite for large-scale immersive AR experiences.
OOH Augmented Reality: Top 4 Tips
Tip 1: Environment
Each environment is unique, and tailoring your execution to each location is vital. There are many considerations from the available space, screen size and footfall to light conditions and dwell times. And the list goes on. Depending on the size of the location, there may be additional demands for floor vinyls, crowd control and brand ambassadors. In addition, complications can arise in the form of fluctuating light levels and perspective breach. It is tending to these variations and the attention to detail that really makes the spectacle.
Tip 2: Experience
Every technical build is unique. The key to quality results is quality hardware and innovative implementation. More captivating experiences can be made by fusing different technologies, both hardware and software, together for a big experiential installation. Keeping it streamlined, however, is best for a scalable roll-out.
Tip 3: Engagement
To make OOH AR executions engaging and memorable; the more interactive, the better the results. For example, employing face-tracking software can greatly increase interactivity without introducing barriers for entry, thus keeping it an easy-to- use, ergonomic experience. Again, it’s innovative thinking and development that’s key here; face-tracking is just one example, but there’s a whole world of gyroscopes, accelerometers, 3D cameras, RFID and software libraries out there.
Tip 4: Execution
The quality of AR creative is a key factor in the impact and success of any AR activation. In OOH environments, this requires a unique creative skill set, marrying and developing hardware and software solutions to tackle the varied challenges. This is a large part of a Creative Technologist’s role, and at Grand Visual, we have a broad spectrum of creative, technical and coding backgrounds to draw from. For agencies that don’t have this internal resource, it’s essential to get a reliable partner involved to define what AR setup is the most suitable for the project requirements.
OOH Augmented Reality: What’s Next?
Over the last few years, OOH campaigns with AR production elements have garnered increasing amounts of attention. Creatively and technically, we are still at the tip of the iceberg, but over the next 12 months, we expect to see further developments and add-ons that build on top of AR techniques, such as mixed or mediated reality and increased interactivity. Keeping at the forefront of cutting-edge technologies is what makes all the difference to a successful campaign.
The hard work of introducing the technology to the masses has been done. The appetite from both brands and consumers alike is there. Now the challenge is to continue to innovate whilst delivering quality events that resonate with the audience. It’s an exciting place to work, and I for one can’t wait to continue pushing the boundaries of AR in all its variations across the DOOH landscape.