MarketingSquad Marketing Squad Mon, 03 Jun 2019 05:21:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 MarketingSquad 32 32 22975190 How to engage millennials and why Taco Bell gets it right Mon, 03 Jun 2019 16:00:41 +0000 I have this one friend on Twitter, they’re the best. I’ll bet you have at least one friend like them too. They tell jokes,...

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I have this one friend on Twitter, they’re the best. I’ll bet you have at least one friend like them too.

They tell jokes, they know their life is a mess and aren’t afraid to embrace it, they know they aren’t creating world peace and they aren’t afraid to admit it. They posted one tweet that had me laughing for 10 minutes.

My friend is a taco…

Taco Bell offers far more to engage with millennials than cheap and easy food.

Well more specifically, Taco Bell.

Taco Bell isn’t competing to stand up for social causes like Nike or Gillette. They instead focus on creating relatable content to engage millennials. They distribute content on platforms where consumers can engage and interact with their brand.

Taco Bell has brand intimacy because of their ability to follow and adopt millennial trends. This allows them to appear in people’s minds as a “cool friend”, providing them with stories and memes rather than advertisements.

They use honest, transparent, and engaging marketing across multiple platforms to develop their brand authenticity.

Below: we will discuss their presence on Reddit, the Taco emoji campaign, and their voice on social media, particularly Twitter to show how your company can engage millennials and stay relevant in 2019.

Engaging with millennials – Twitter.

Successful branding in 2019 means making connections. That can be by taking a stance on social issues or taking a stab at your competitors. But the content most likely to engage Millenials? Humor.

Taco Bell creates brand authenticity with its philosophy of not taking itself too seriously, meaning it is perceived as a friend as opposed to a brand.

Taco Bell engages with millennials by targeting other brands on Twitter
Taco Bell claps back at Old Spice in a playful interaction.

Generally, when HuffPost says they want to be your best friend, you’re getting something right. Taco Bell shows us: by inserting yourself in the right spaces, you can prove you are in tune with millennial culture.

Tweeting about Mean Girls, Taco Bell presents itself as a fan, relating with the Mean Girls fans of the world. Clapping back at Old Spice, Taco Bell presents itself as human and shows it too can be sassy and facetious.

Through sending gifts to customers, it leverages its social relevance to earn advocacy from users. This includes everyday users to influencers with up to 600,000 followers.

Taco Bell’s authentic branding is evident in every tweet.  

So how can you stick out to consumers as a friend rather than a brand? Stay light-hearted, actively respond to critiques, and keep up to date with trends and tastes.

The Taco Emoji

Taco Bell uses the emoji trend to engage with millennials
Taco Bell utilizes the emoji trend to engage with customers.

One of Taco Bell’s most remarkable feats is recognizing the increasing dependence on Emojis across society. On June 17th, 2015, the taco was inducted into Unicode’s set of emojis. This was because Taco Bell ran a petition on which reached 32,687 signatures.

Taco Bell used its perception as a casual brand. Leveraging a usually serious medium to talk about an almost comedic issue.

Not only did they reach 10s of thousands through and secure the bragging rights associated with creating an emoji. Taco Bell earned huge amounts of engagement on Twitter. Users could tweet Taco Bell to combine two emojis into one (as shown below). Taco Bell would respond with a creation from its emoji engine.

Watch to see how Taco Bell created an emoji to engage with millennial smartphone users.

Taco Bell caused a spike in user engagement on Twitter. Being able to directly interact with the corporation’s official Twitter account builds personability and relatability.

Also, they turn core fans into influencers, leveraging their accounts to spread advocacy and build trust.

Millennials resonate far more with influencers than traditional marketing.

Traditional marketers design campaigns to display product value. However, for Taco Bell, marketing means ​creating ​value by delivering meaningful content to consumers.

In short, marketing shouldn’t be about the product, but about the connection people feel to your brand.

Taco Bell on Reddit

Reddit has historically been unfriendly to brands, being considered by CNBC to have the least valuable users.

So, instead of trying to seek ways to advertise to redditors, Taco Bell breaks the cycle, giving Redditors what they need – something to talk about. Users in r/TacoBell can find discussion about the restaurant, memes, and frequent posts of user’s meals.

Reddit is a close-knit community of people sharing information and opinions. Its users are skeptical. Consequently, to gain acceptance into the Reddit community, a brand must give control to the user.

Taco Bell steps back and allows users to steer the conversation, resulting in unconventional earned media in the form of memes.

Redditor u/_crunchwrap_ uses Taco Bell as a meme in r/TacoBell.

Taco Bell’s designated subreddit hosts a community of people who feel connected to what the brand shares. It dwarfs competitors, like Wendy’s and Burger King, with 41,000 subscribers.

Taco Bell is authentic in the media it distributes whilst others get sniffed out and torn apart for lackluster endorsements of social causes (Pepsi). On the contrary, Taco Bell inspires users to share and spoof the content they create.

Top posts on Taco Bell’s subreddit show that to achieve acceptance into a tightknit community, a brand must be willing to be memed by its users.

For example, by not taking yourself too seriously, you can thrive by handing users content and allowing them to repurpose and distribute it as they like.

Taco Bell on Snapchat

Snapchat is seeing huge growth and offers the perfect outlet for interactive content. Taco Bell is taking advantage of the new ‘social networking app of millennials‘ by allowing them to depict themselves as Tacos through augmented reality.

To engage millennials Taco Bell used AR and Snapchat.
See how users depict themselves as Tacos through AR.

Snapchat saw its company record for most views in a day smashed by Taco Bell‘s 2016 sponsored lens campaign. The company uses flexible and funny content to engage millennials and allows them the freedom to create what they want to share.

Taco Bell, engaging millennials.

Taco Bell takes up a meaningful spot in its customers lives by deliberately not taking itself too seriously. Its honest and authentic marketing gives users control over how they interact with the brand, allowing it to engage millennials in online communities like Twitter and Reddit.

You can engage millennials by being honest with yourself and your customers. By claiming to have the best products or pretending to be fighting for the social causes they care about you expose yourself to scrutiny. However, by providing users with valuable content you allow yourself to become a part of a community.

This post was written by Cindy Flores and Blake Axtell. The post was edited by Archie Mitchell and Dr. Joachim Scholz. Please contact the authors for more information on this topic.

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How can you survive the digital disruption? Maybe listen to Spotify… Mon, 06 May 2019 21:07:15 +0000 The digital disruption has shattered the foundations of many industries. Entire sectors relating to news (Huffington post, Medium), transportation (Uber, Lyft), and travel (AirBnB,...

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The digital disruption has shattered the foundations of many industries. Entire sectors relating to news (Huffington post, Medium), transportation (Uber, Lyft), and travel (AirBnB, Tripadvisor) were transformed once the rules of the game had changed. Whether you are an established company or a newcomer, you probably ask yourself: How can we thrive in this new competitive landscape? To answer this question, it’s worth listening to Spotify… and seeing what they have done.

One of the earliest victims of the digital disruption were the ways that we listen to music. Before streaming, music was expensive and consumers often had little control over what they listened to. Now, music is everywhere and people can access any song, any time.

This is great for consumers, but for the music industry, it posed a serious question: How does one compete in a competitive landscape where your primary product has become an easily-accessed, ubiquitous commodity?

Spotify’s answer: be about more than just music. When you sign up for Spotify you enter a global community of users expressing themselves through the music they love. Whether it’s sharing via social media, adding friends within the app, or integration into the world’s most popular dating apps, Spotify has made music streaming not just about listening, but about expressing yourself.

To survive the digital disruption and even thrive, a company has to be consumer-oriented and empower its users. Spotify does this in three different ways: It is a tool for fans of even the most niche genres to share their tastes in global communities. Second, Spotify facilitates conversations between artists and listeners to connect with music in more meaningful ways. And last, through integration into the world’s most popular social media apps, Spotify helps consumers to express themselves, whilst simultaneously generating huge amounts of earned media.

Letting the user define popular

Spotify’s ability to ride the digital disruption has largely hinged on how it has harnessed the rise of social media. Before smartphones, social media and streaming, music sharing between a group of friends relied on in-person interactions: Groups of friends would meet up to share and exchange mixtapes.

Spotify used the power of social media to transform your local group of friends into a global community around niche music tastes.  What we see now is a landscape where each social group is represented with artists from genres from Afrobashment to Danish rap, with Spotify encouraging and empowering users to express themselves and forge relationships based on music.

The digital disruption has allowed Spotify to take advantage in the rise of genres like Afrobeat.

Before the digital disruption, which songs made it to the top of the charts was decided by big label companies. Now, individual users define what’s popular by sharing their favorite songs. And as global access to social media and streaming services grows, world music is experiencing a boom.

As Spotify’s head of Global Cultures explains: “We have a new music-industry landscape which is much more diverse than it could have possibly been before.” The norm today is handing power over what’s popular to the consumer, allowing everyone to find the music that resonates with them.

Creating Conversations

Another part of Spotify’s strategy is to facilitate multidirectional conversations between users and artists. Spotify enables artists to directly interact with subscribers through Instagram and Facebook, and it also offers the option to follow your favorite artists. These features have spawned a rise in boutique labels representing artists not necessarily primed for the Billboard charts.

“Spotify empowers a new generation of musicians who prosper by making deep connections with more concentrated fan bases”

Spotify’s features make it possible for a new generation of musicians to prosper by making deep connections with more concentrated fan bases. The ability for artists to link listeners directly to Spotify from their Instagram and Facebook stories, Spotify’s social features such as adding friends and following artists, and Spotify’s integration into Messenger and iMessage allow users to find artists with whom they connect more deeply and build meaningful connections with friends and followers based on this.

Artists now rely on social media to form connections with their fans beyond music. With these followers actively seeking out their content, artists can move away from invasive advertisements to promote new music and instead drive users straight to their discography using stories.

Artists build intimate relationships with fans on social media to distribute music.

Your own business might not be about music, but you can apply the same principle: Stay away from the traditional focus of reach and mass marketing, and instead empower members of a certain tribe (often centered around a niche activity or taste) to share and connect with others in more meaningful ways. By taking this customer-oriented stance, your business can not only survive the digital disruption but even thrive.

Turning Customers Into Influencers

Spotify empowers users to express themselves through their integration with Instagram, Facebook Messenger and iMessage, Tinder and Bumble, and even the development of their own built-in social media functions.

Spotify has done all it can to make expressing yourself as easy as possible to create buzz and leverage its users across all social media platforms. A prime example of this is Spotify’s integration with Facebook and Instagram:

The digital disruption has made listening to music as much about interacting with your friends and followers as hearing your favorite songs. At the touch of a button, users can share songs, albums, or playlists to their Facebook and Instagram stories directly from within the app.

Spotify uses innovative features to use the digital disruption to its advantage.

Spotify thus shifts its entire value proposition from “these are the songs we offer”, to “here’s how we help you build and maintain social connections”. In every industry we see that users don’t want the ‘perfect’ product, they want the product that’s perfect for them – Spotify provides each user a totally personalized experience, allowing them to paint a totally customized picture of themselves to their friends and followers.

Integration into dating apps, as well as some of the in-app social features turns users from passive consumers into active ones. Users can send songs directly within the Spotify app, check out what others are listening to, and even work on collaborative playlists.

Expressing oneself isn’t something that should be fenced in, and Spotify knows that. They collaborate with Bumble and Tinder to provide users another way to express themselves. The ‘top songs and artists’ features on these dating apps further encourage users to build and grow relationships based on the music tastes they share. Spotify’s risqué integration into these apps is emblematic of its strategy to create conversations and empower users to express themselves through music.

Spotify uses the digital disruption to to generate mass earned media.

Beyond the user, these features help Spotify, too. Empowering users to share their experience creates earned media, consumer advocacy, and user-generated content. Another reason for why enabling conversations is key for surviving the digital transformation.

A prime example of this is the Spotify Wrapped campaign. At the end of each year, users are provided a detailed rundown of the songs, artists, and amount of music they listened. Spotify encourages users to share their stats on social media, and many do because it’s an expression of themselves. Spotify’s 2016 wrapped campaign received over 1500 pieces of news coverage, generated 1.2 billion earned impressions, and over 1 billion streams.

Sounds intriguing? View the explainer below with the statistics described at 1:37.

In essence, Spotify creates content tailored for consumers to share on their social media feeds. For your own business, you can ask yourself: Why do people use our service or buy our products? What value, beyond the functional value of our offerings, do we provide? Once you identified this (e.g., expressing yourself), you can come up with similar ideas of how you can leverage customer insights to create tailored content that your customers will want to share with their friends.

Survive the digital disruption by redefining your product

All this cross conversation between Spotify’s users and artists doesn’t just build an incredibly strong sense of community, it creates a platform for self-expression and a tool for creating connections. Spotify’s leveraging of social media, as we can see, is pivotal to its marketing efforts, essentially utilizing its multi-million subscriber base as micro-influencers. This is crucial in building advocates for the brand and building trust for those considering signing up for a subscription.

Spotify offers all you ever want from a music streaming service: An extensive catalog, affordable pricing, and hi-fi audio all. But more than just these basic table stakes, Spotify recognizes that expressing oneself lies at the core of the music listening experience. The ability to find one’s community, to engage in multidirectional conversations, and to express oneself through music even outside the Spotify app all create a service that goes beyond the music itself.

To survive the digital disruption, Spotify has taken a fully customer-oriented approach. And as we can see, it’s paying off.

This post was written by Archie Mitchell and Dr. Joachim Scholz. The authors thank Alexis Ardito and Maxwell Motley for their help in compiling research for this article. Please follow the authors on Twitter for more information on this topic.

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Brand meaning comes alive with augmented reality Fri, 01 Jun 2018 13:06:24 +0000 The most powerful brands in the world have one thing in common — strong brand meaning. Nike encourages consumers to “just do it.” Disney...

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The most powerful brands in the world have one thing in common — strong brand meaning.

Nike encourages consumers to “just do it.” Disney inspires imagination. BMW brings you the “ultimate driving experience.” A simple tagline carries a vivid description of what the brand stands for.

But even companies like Nike and BMW struggle to truly bring those messages to life. With print and television advertisements, brand meaning can feel like a passive experience. Marketers struggle to bridge the gap between the brand meaning, the medium and the customer.

One emerging marketing technology can help solve that problem.

Visa takes consumers to the jungle

Visa utilized augmented reality (AR) to deliver their brand meaning in an engaging way. AR merges physical content with the digital world. This eliminates the space between a customer and a brand meaning. Visa used AR in its campaign, “Try Something New with Visa,” which expresses their brand meaning, “everywhere you want to be.”

The experience give consumers the opportunity to interact with digital animals, bringing their brand meaning to life through in augmented reality jungle.

See video of experience here . 


Global technology software company Lemon & Orange developed the project and installed the AR gear in four Polish malls. By triggering the AR experience, customers can consumers can interact with a variety of zoo animals.

Augmented reality is a great choice for Visa because it gives consumers the once in a lifetime chance to interact with the jungle on a normal shopping day. AR truly lets customers go “everywhere you want to be.”

AR creates an interactive brand meaning

Users reach out to pet digital panda bears during Visa’s augmented reality experience.

According to marketing experts Reis and Trout, the goal of brand meaning is to, “create a unique impression in the customer’s mind so that the customer associates something specific and desirable with your brand.”

Nike, Disney, BMW and Visa have mastered this concept. But Visa ups the game by using augmented reality.

The use of this new technology aligns with Visa as a brand. Visa is a global brand that inspires travel and new experiences for consumers. They want the consumer to engage in adventurous activities. Augmented reality gives the consumer the chance to experience these adventurous activities, something a television or print ad can not.

#AR eliminates the space between a customer and a brand meaning
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Therefore, augmented reality is a great choice, because it allows Visa to leverage its brand meaning. It gives consumers the chance to experience wild adventures without disrupting their daily routine.

Create an AR experience worth sharing

Users can share photos of the AR experience on social media.

For marketers, a great AR experience is only half the battle. To really take advantage of a good campaign, brands should engage customers beyond the glamor of its fancy AR exhibit.

Marketers should not only factor in participation of users, but also engage bystanders — folks who were not able to experience the AR content. Visa allowed mall-goers to share photos of their experience on social media. These photos are “artifacts” — evidence of a user’s participation in an AR campaign. Artifacts further develop user-­bystander engagement because they provide a sharable token of the experience. They allow bystanders observe the augmented reality experience regardless of their location.

Even those who were not at the mall could see how Visa gave consumers this wild opportunity and fully leveraged their brand meaning.

Keep your AR experience under control 

The setup of the entire augmented experience promotes Visa and its adventurous brand meaning.

Though building an AR experience in a public location can be great for engaging customers, there are risks. Marketers should focus on “neutralizing threats,” as described my past research on AR . In Visa’s case, it’s easy to disrupt the company’s augmented reality experience because the area is not closed off within the mall.

Visa did not give themselves complete control of how outside forces could affect the scene. As a result, shoppers could walk in front of the screen disrupting the entire experience. Or, a competitor could place an advertisement in the targeted zone.

By neutralizing these threats, Visa would have truly put the consumer’s wants first and avoided the risk of interruptions.

AR brings your brand meaning to life

Brands need to align their marketing strategies with technologies that best leverage their brand meanings. Visa’s campaign would not have been as impactful if they had chosen to use traditional media. They needed a truly immersive experience to align with Visa’s brand meaning — “Everywhere you want to be.” It places customers in an outrageous and unexpected experience. This helps that brand meaning resonate more than a different medium would.

Augmented reality was a great addition to Visa’s marketing mix. Its campaign is a role model for brands searching for an innovative digital strategy.

If you liked this article, please share this post with other marketing professionals. To learn more about the opportunities and trends in augmented reality, subscribe to for upcoming articles on the latest and greatest AR campaigns.

The author thanks Lindsey Elliott and Kelsey Payton for their contributions to an earlier version of this post.

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Research Note: How AR can build intimate consumer-brand relationships Sun, 27 May 2018 00:52:17 +0000 Many marketers hope that augmented reality will help them create deep and meaningful consumer-brand relationships. But is that really true? And how would this...

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Many marketers hope that augmented reality will help them create deep and meaningful consumer-brand relationships. But is that really true? And how would this work? In this fresh-off-the-press academic study, MKTGsquad founder Dr. Joachim Scholz gets to the bottom of AR’s relationship-building potential.

Download the article for FREE (until July 14, 2018)

The study, published in the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, is entitled: “We ARe at home: How augmented reality reshapes mobile marketing and consumer-brand relationships”.

What is this research about?

The article explores how users of Sephora’s mobile AR shopping app forge intimate consumer-brand relationships. Key to building these relationships is to integrate the AR app into consumers’ intimate space (e.g., their bedrooms) and to fuse the branded content with consumers’ sense of self. Through both of these “outside-in” and “inside-out” processes, the AR app provides a personal space for consumers that is conducive for the emergence of meaningful consumer-brand relationships.

The left side of the following figure describes these processes:

How the wider and inner context of AR create intimate consumer-brand relationships
Considering the wider and inner context of AR is important to create intimate consumer-brand relationships

The study has several important implications for marketing practitioners:

Implications for marketing practitioners

Mobile marketers often think about “shopping on the go” when it comes to mobile marketing. In contrast, this research points out that marketers should also consider at-home use as another “wider context” for mobile (AR) apps. In this new study, consumers formed deep relationships with Sephora through using its AR app at home.

Second, augmented reality apps can do so much more than deliver easy-to-understand product information. Sephora’s Virtual Artist app, for example, helps consumers test-drive new identities, relax, and socialize with their friends.

Knowing how consumers use AR is super important for launching a successful AR app. Consumers are not able – or willing – to relax when they feel they are being targeted by the brand.

As this new study shows, AR apps can forge meaningful and deep consumer-brand relationships when consumers perceived the AR app to be centered around themselves. The brand has to recede into the background and has to stay there. Whenever the sales pitch of the brand became too strong, the relationship with the brand became fractured.

Good news for managers

And finally, some good news for managers who worry about the quality of their AR app: While it is, of course, important that the app is user-friendly, the mapping of the AR content does not have to be perfect. Consumers in this study were quite forgiving when it came to smaller inaccuracies of the AR app. The authors interviewed 16 actual users of the app, each for over an hour, and often heard that smaller inaccuracies were expected for such a “little iPhone app”. One participant shared:

“… when it scanned your face to then put fake makeup on, it wasn’t exactly where my cheekbones and things are. But it’s just a little iPhone app, it’s not going to be able to do it perfectly. I’m sure an actual augmented reality giant set-up would be able to get it more accurate. But for a little app, it was pretty accurate, pretty close on.”

In other words, brands have a certain leeway when developing their mobile AR apps, especially now, that the technology is not yet mainstream. Thus, Dr. Scholz’s research encourages managers who are hesitant about the current state of AR technology to take the plunge and embrace AR for their marketing programs.

Your next steps towards deeper consumer-brand relationships

You can read the entire study, with lots of informative quotes from real consumers, over at the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services. If you want to take your AR apps to the next level, ask yourself:

  • Where do consumers use your mobile AR app? (the wider context)
  • How can your AR app foreground the consumer and background the brand? (fusing the brand with the consumer; the inner context)
  • What functionalities can you offer so that consumers can use your app not only to learn about products but also to relax and socialize?

Exploring these three questions will get you a good way towards better realizing AR’s potential to create intimate consumer-brand relationships.

If you want to hear more about the study, or how ethnographic consumer research can help your own AR projects, get in touch with Dr. Scholz via Twitter or MKTGsquad’s contact form.


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Reengineer Transmedia Storytelling with Augmented Reality Tue, 27 Feb 2018 15:00:33 +0000 W​hat if instead of just entertaining your viewers, your viewers became apart of the story? With the expansion of the entertainment industry, marketers need...

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W​hat if instead of just entertaining your viewers, your viewers became apart of the story?

With the expansion of the entertainment industry, marketers need to find innovative ways to stay relevant and facilitate engagement. Transmedia storytelling creates one storyline that expands over different media platforms, increasing both reach and frequency among your viewers.

Using Augmented Reality (AR) in transmedia storytelling, the entertainment industry can accomplish much more. Without a purpose that incorporates and impacts the viewer, audience engagement with entertainment is not reaching its maximum potential. This is where AR comes in.

AR extends beyond the boundaries of the screen and allows the consumer to immerse themselves into the story.

So, how can you incorporate AR into your marketing mix to increase audience engagement and ratings?

In this article, ​Chloe Gabel​, J​essi Biagioni​, ​Collin McGrew, and Joachim Scholz discuss how AR can completely reengineer transmedia storytelling within the entertainment industry.

Marketers using AR can reap the benefits of increasing reach and relevance with the target market. However, keep in mind that AR technology requires significant investment and strategic execution.

Below, we illustrate the incorporation of AR to extend the storylines of entertainment marketing into the real world. We discuss 3 ways in which entertainment marketers can both create meaningful connections between fans and unify all media efforts.

Extending the Boundaries of the Physical World

Before the launch of The Dark Knight movie, 42 Entertainment released an alternate reality game called ​Why So Serious?​ to promote the premiere of the movie. The results were spectacular – this alternate reality game grew a tremendous audience of “10 million and [helped] The Dark Knight gain the greatest number of advanced presale tickets ever recorded – selling out its entire opening day”.

42 Entertainment notes that the success of this interactive campaign “illustrates the growing demand for social entertainment”. By pulling fans into the storyline and letting their actions unroll the overall story, ​Why So Serious?​ was able to create a unique crowd culture. 

Why So Serious?​ pulls fans into the alternate world of Gotham City by creating the Joker Scavenger Hunt. Check out this ​video​ to see how the game works.

The Dark Knight ​Why So Serious?​ game creates an AR Gotham City

This revolutionary creation of an alternate reality fostered tremendous levels of audience engagement through transmedia storytelling.

However, it could have been more.

Back in 2009, we did not have the technological capability to use AR. ​As a result, Why So Serious?​ was only able to use digital and online media to create their alternate reality.

Although alternate reality gaming creates a new fan culture, it has its drawbacks.

Alternate reality gaming creates exactly what it says, an alternate reality that fans can be a part of. This “alternate reality” is only experienced through online digital media – there is no interaction with the physical world.

Building an alternate reality is effective when creating a fan culture surrounding the alternate world. But is that the most effective way to make your story resonate with viewers?

Why AR is Key in Transmedia Storytelling

AR creates a deeper alternate reality that connects with the user’s physical world. Alternate realities are no longer confined to the digital boundaries of the technologies that created them.

With AR, boundaries extend to the real world where physical items become a part of the alternate universe.

Effective transmedia storytelling with AR gaming is possible when fan involvement is necessary to further build the story. However, because ​Why So Serious?​ places users in an alternate world that relies completely on digital media, it doesn’t encourage users to interact with the outside world.

The ​Why So Serious? ​campaign could have been even better if it had access to the spatialized media of AR. With AR, alternative reality is so closely entangled with the physical world that it has the power to extend beyond the game.

How AR Increased Audience Engagement through Transmedia Storytelling

AR recently proved its success in entertainment with the Archer AR Campaign. With 7 seasons and counting, the popular American adult animated spy sitcom, Archer, recently launched an app in hopes to get people more involved in season 8. The app allows viewers to utilize AR to receive hints about upcoming episodes. 

The Archer AR App in Action

By allowing viewers to become a part of the show, they transform into a next level enthusiast within the Archer community.

When users open the app and hold their phone up to Archer material (such as items displayed on the TV show, Archer Billboards, and Archer advertisements), they will trigger an interaction with a clue that will display a set of specific animations. The triggering of objects is called “Archering.”

Ultimately, this campaign was successful because clues were hidden in the show and the real world.

The use of physical and digital objects makes the transmedia storytelling continuous.

This campaign adds another dimension to audience engagement. Once the user has collected a series of clues, they can unlock “secrets,” which ultimately help the Archer characters solve the mystery. Besides watching the show, viewers become incorporated into the story. Soon, the story becomes their reality.

Different Types of Media Create Different Realities

Both the ​Why So Serious?​ campaign and Archer P.I. created an alternate reality. However, they used different media types to create their realities. ​Why So Serious?​ used online/digital media (videos, boards, etc.), while Archer P.I. used spatialized media (AR). Ultimately, only Archer had access to this new form of media. Thus, Archer’s alternate reality was more effective for audience engagement than The Dark Knight’s.

Remember, these are only two examples illustrating the potential of transmedia storytelling.

With AR, you too can create deeper engagement across all platforms by weaving your content into the viewer’s world.

3 Steps to Creating AR Enriched Transmedia Storytelling

The goal for marketers is to transform viewing into participation. Using AR to facilitate transmedia storytelling adds another dimension of audience engagement to your show. Here’s how you can increase audience engagement with your entertainment content:

1. Create an AR subplot that coincides with the original entertainment content

2. Make the viewer a contributor to the story

3. Use everyday items to anchor the show’s world

1. Create an AR Subplot that Coincides with the Original Entertainment Content

When creating an AR app, it’s vital that the plot is consistent with your existing content. Your viewers are already fans of the material in your entertainment content. The next step is to accurately represent that story with the AR world you create.

Both Archer P.I. and ​Why So Serious? i​ncorporated themes of the original plot into an interactive game. By focusing on memorable objects and themes of the show, Archer’s app compliments the entertainment content that viewers are used to.

Remember, when you create your own AR campaign, consistency and innovation in your storyline is key.

By choosing the right elements to include in your AR campaign, you make the connection between media feel more legitimate. Ultimately, the purpose of this strategy is to entangle objects and themes through transmedia storytelling.

Next, you can create a subplot within the app. Utilizing different media platforms, you can stretch your story beyond the screen and into the everyday lives of your viewers. The subplot connects the storyline of the original content to the personal experience of the user. Now, the once mundane objects in the viewer’s world have a new meaning in the AR world.

2. Make the Viewer a Contributor to the Story

AR can successfully facilitate audience engagement with the content of your storyline. In the Archer example, users were already fans of the show and felt a connection with the story. With the addition of the AR app, the viewer could now be a Personal Investigator, solving crimes enhance Archer’s storyline.

Implementing AR in transmedia storytelling allows viewers to join the characters in the story.

Creating this “part of the team” mentality for viewers opens up a new level of audience engagement. Audience members become an active participant in the story rather than simply viewing the story.

When viewers immerse themselves into the story and see themselves as a contributor, you can create deep levels of engagement. With Archer P.I., the case cannot be solved and the story cannot be told unless the audience finds the clues.

Transmedia storytelling links the episode & mobile story in Archer P.I

3. Use Everyday Items to Anchor the Show’s World

Integrating transmedia screens provides a new level of audience engagement for fans. Before, entertainment was separate from the viewer’s personal reality. As Jo Scholz​ and Andrew Smith point out​, AR takes a step further in audience engagement by merging your content with the viewer’s world. With AR—these two worlds become “entangled.”

So, what does this mean for you?

In order to increase audience engagement, you need to integrate personal items into your AR application.

In the Archer app, clues were “entangled” in a new merged world.

This strategy made the show incredibly real and vivid for viewers because they were already familiar with those items. Moreover, it introduced a new experience inside viewers’ own lives.

Finally, utilizing everyday items creates a feeling of importance for consumers within the storyline. To help Archer solve the case, Archer’s AR app not only encourages but requires audience engagement with the various media advertising platforms. This new prerogative captures viewers and consequently increases ratings. By bringing both personal items and branded items into your AR campaign, you too can increase audience engagement!

Ultimately, AR Portals Link Physical and Alternate Realities

A current trend in media production is the idea of dropping “Easter Eggs” throughout the story. “Easter Eggs” can only be found if viewers pay close attention to every detail in the show. The main goal of these “Easter Eggs” is to encourage fan groups to discuss what the hidden objects mean and where you can find them.

In short, “Easter Eggs” increase audience engagement after watching the show.

AR pushes the “Easter Egg” idea to the next level. These hidden objects will no longer be found only in the TV show. Now, the “Easter Eggs” can include physical objects that fans can discuss. AR goes far beyond the idea of “Easter Eggs.” Instead, it creates “AR Portals” that build real connections between the show’s alternate world and audience’s physical world.

“AR Portals” push audience engagement into your storyline because they are a constant reminder of the story. With “Easter Eggs,” you need to watch the show to see them.

With “AR Portals,” the audience can look at any physical object and be transported into your story’s alternate world.

By using physical objects that anyone can interact with, AR also encourages fan culture. The discussion travels beyond, “did you see that last episode?” It now includes, “did you see that the dollar bill in your wallet is a clue to the mystery?”

Future of AR Marketing in Entertainment

AR is an extraordinary tool for marketing to consumers. Its benefits and efficiency are only going to increase as technology continues to develop. By using AR to facilitate transmedia storytelling, you can strengthen connections with your audience.

A successful AR campaign requires strategic execution with the viewer in mind. Only then will the viewer’s world and the AR world collide to create the ultimate form of engagement. Remember, involving the viewer in your content will increase ratings and views. After implementing these tactics, you will be on your way to stardom.

To keep up to date with emerging marketing techniques, subscribe to for upcoming articles on the latest and greatest AR campaigns.

This post was written by Chloe Gabel, Jessi Biagioni, Collin McGrew, and Dr. Joachim Scholz. The authors thank Sonya Bengali for her help in editing this article. Please follow the authors on Twitter for more information on this topic.

The post Reengineer Transmedia Storytelling with Augmented Reality appeared first on MarketingSquad.

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How Augmented Reality can Reinvent the Shopping Experience Mon, 12 Feb 2018 15:00:27 +0000 Digital technologies are transforming the retail shopping experience. However, retailers are oftentimes not sure how to implement digital technology into their marketing mix. As...

The post How Augmented Reality can Reinvent the Shopping Experience appeared first on MarketingSquad.

Digital technologies are transforming the retail shopping experience. However, retailers are oftentimes not sure how to implement digital technology into their marketing mix. As a result, many retailers end up developing fragmented solutions focused on the isolated in-store experience.

For example, in 2016, Lowe’s Home Improvement attempted to use new digital technologies to create the in-store robot sales associate, “​LoweBot​.” Their narrow solution questioned “how can we help customers easily find products?” rather than thinking of the big picture, “how can we help customers design the room of their dreams?”

How, then, can retail marketers rethink the shopping experience in holistic ways? One way to do this is through the use of augmented reality (AR).

With augmented reality, you can focus less on the physical store, and more on how the store can help customers achieve their project goals.

Here, the old adage saying, “you’re not selling a drill, you’re selling a hole,” no longer applies. The saying should be: “You’re not selling a drill or a hole. You’re selling a better room.”

The shopping experience is no longer about an in-store experience. Rather, the focus is now about helping the customer reach their project goals. Augmented reality can achieve this because it allows marketers to help customers in their immediate environment by virtue of being a spatial technology that integrates digital content with the physical world.

In this article, Maggie Hitchings, Reilly Roberts, Maddie Reid, and Joachim Scholz discuss how augmented reality can create a solution-centric retail environment by focusing on the customer’s project and allowing for serendipity and assurance.

How Lowe’s Home Improvement Reinvented the Shopping Exerperience

Lowe’s updated their use of digital technology by introducing an augmented reality app using ​Tango-enabled smartphones. The app has two functions that allow Lowe’s to focus on providing a complete solution for its customers.

The first part of the app, “​Lowe’s Vision​,” enables users to measure and place virtual products into their home to visualize how the room will look. This allows users to thoroughly plan their projects and create a shopping list before entering the store to purchase the products.

Part of "Lowe's Vision" is to enhance consumer's shopping experience.

The second part of the app, known as “​Lowe’s Vision: In-Store Navigation​,” uses a mixed reality interface to guide users through the store and find products on their shopping lists.

“[The app] allows our associates to spend more time advising on home improvement projects,” said Kyle Nel, executive director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs. “With Lowe’s Vision: In-Store Navigation, we’ve created a more seamless experience using breakthrough technology so customers can save time shopping and focus more on their project.”

It’s not just Lowe’s that got this right – you can do it too!

By incorporating augmented reality, you can focus on the customer’s project and become more solution-oriented.

Because the Lowe’s app satisfies basic needs like navigation to products, sales associates can focus more attention on consulting customers with project ideas. Repurposing the sales associate allows for more exciting and personal interactions. Ultimately, this builds meaningful and long-lasting relationships between the customer and the brand.

How You Can Use AR Marketing to Transform the Shopping Experience

If you want to use augmented reality to transform your audience’s shopping experience, there are four things you need to keep in mind:

1. Allow customers to plan and execute projects

2. Allow for serendipity

3. Provide quality assurance

4. Provide social assurance

To remember this, we came up with the acronym, PSA​​2.

This acronym will help you optimize your consumer's shopping experience.

1) Allow Customers to Plan and Execute Projects

Augmented reality helps your consumers overcome the imagination gap​ when they have an idea for a project. For example, in “Lowe’s Vision,” the in-home component allows users to envision their dream room. This is one of the most important features to incorporate in your AR app to enhance the shopping experience.

This streamlined focus on getting the customer from the planning stage to execution stage has been successful in other marketing campaigns such as ​IKEA​ and ​TopShop.​ IKEA followed a similar model as Lowe’s by giving consumers the capability to measure and visualize products in their homes. TopShop created dressing rooms with augmented reality so users could virtually try on products.

In both cases, customers were given the tools and information needed to follow through with their projects. This eases the buying experience, further enticing consumers to confidently follow through with a purchase decision.

Remember, creating a solution-oriented shopping experience is what makes augmented reality so valuable for your business.

2) Allow for Serendipity 

While the “Lowe’s Vision: In-Store Navigation” app helps customers plan and navigate with ease, the trade off is that customers no longer have a reason to wander through the store. To change this, Lowe’s could use augmented reality to incentivize people to explore places not on their shopping list.

In other words, you should think about how to incorporate aspects of serendipity into your AR app.

One way to do this is through ​gamification​. The app could provide different paths for customers to follow throughout the store, where they could “win” tokens and earn discounts. If the user could hold up their smartphone and see discounts light up in different areas of the store, they would be more inclined to navigate and explore different departments.

Another way your app could increase serendipity and trigger impulse decisions is to show virtual products that align with products on your customer’s shopping list.

For example, if your customer is picking up a table they already tried at home, your app could alert them of a coordinating lamp. Using AR, the user would hold up their smartphone to the table and see the suggested lamp sitting on top. As a result, this would urge them to visit the lighting section.

3) Quality Assurance

Augmented reality can help you transform an in-store shopping experience to one that prioritizes consumers’ projects by providing them with quality assurance.

Consumers value reviews more than almost anything else. According to data presented by ​Bright Local​, customers actively seek out product and business reviews. In fact, 67% of consumers read as many as six reviews before they trust a business and 85% read as many as ten.

When using the app, users could hold their smartphone in front of a product and see reviews pop up right next to it. Why force your customers to find assurance elsewhere when this can be streamlined through your app?

Having reviews directly integrated into the shopping experience saves consumers time and allows them to focus on the project at hand.

4) Social Assurance

While quality assurance is important, social assurance can be an even more powerful tool.

Imagine this: you are shopping for a new shirt with a friend. Your friend says, “that shirt looks good on you!” This positive feedback from your friend is a critical component to your final purchase decision because people naturally care about what others think of them.

To recreate the experience of shopping with a friend in your AR app, we suggest using live-streaming and chat functions.

Live-streaming and chat functions allow you to build a supportive shopping community.

The live-streaming aspect of the app could be similar to ​ModiFace​. This platform allows makeup artists to live stream themselves putting on virtual makeup through Facebook Live and YouTube Live. More importantly, they receive comments from their online community.

ModiFace uses live streaming to reinvent the shopping experience.

In the Lowe’s example, consumers could use the app to live-stream themselves virtually testing out products in their homes. At the same time, they could get feedback from their social network. Receiving a “like” or positive comment on live-streams is similar to a friend saying “that shirt looks good on you.”

Affirmation is extremely influential in your consumer’s shopping experience and instills confidence in their purchase decision.

Additionally, the live-stream feature can be directed at the sales associate. Sales associates could provide advice about products before the consumer even sets foot in the store. This would transform the role of a sales associate. They are no longer employees who simply help consumers find products in the store; rather, they are experts who help consumers achieve their goals.

Future Outlook

The digital age is new and exciting. However, many retail marketers do not know how to use emerging technologies to their advantage.​

Here’s the big takeaway: augmented reality can help you create a holistic shopping experience for your customer.

By incorporating augmented reality into your marketing mix, you can build a solution-centric retail shopping environment that prioritizes your consumers’ project goals and dreams.

To get the most out of your AR app, make sure to include features that allow consumers to plan and execute their projects, provide serendipity in the store, and include social and quality assurance.

Augmented reality allows businesses to transform the meaning of shopping. However, you must ensure you are creating a complete experience for your consumer. With a well developed AR app, in-store shopping becomes less about the physical products and more about how you can turn your consumers dreams into a reality.

To keep up to date with emerging marketing techniques, subscribe to for upcoming articles on the latest and greatest AR campaigns.

This post was written by Megan Hitchings, Maddie Reid, Reilly Roberts, and Dr. Joachim Scholz. The authors thank Sonya Bengali for her help in editing this article. Please follow the authors on Twitter for more information on this topic.

The post How Augmented Reality can Reinvent the Shopping Experience appeared first on MarketingSquad.

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Augmented Reality in Social Media: the Future of Advertising Mon, 05 Feb 2018 15:00:01 +0000 Augmented reality has changed the game of social media advertising. When used well, it can enhance consumers’ experience with your brand. The key to...

The post Augmented Reality in Social Media: the Future of Advertising appeared first on MarketingSquad.

Augmented reality has changed the game of social media advertising. When used well, it can enhance consumers’ experience with your brand.

The key to advertising through social media is to integrate augmented reality into your brand’s marketing mix. Snapchat’s interactive lenses, for example, have opened the door for an entirely new form of marketing. Their efforts have been so effective that brands like Facebook have already jumped on the bandwagon.

Some brands are willing to pay ​$750k for a custom Snapchat lens, knowing the price is well worth it. These lenses not only expose brands to consumers but also engulf consumers into their brand story. This creates a more intimate user experience than ever before.

Below, Julia Melmon, Megan Rogers, Savannah Smith, and Joachim Scholz discuss why utilizing social media networks’ augmented reality features is the future of advertising. This article focuses on Snapchat, the first social media platform to bring augmented reality to the masses.

Augmented Reality in Practice: Snapchat Lenses

Snapchat set a new standard for social media interaction by creating disappearing messages and interactive AR lenses for users to play with. There are always multiple lenses interact with at any given time, and users can snap a photo or quick video of themselves engaging with the lens. They can then share this created content directly with friends. Or, they can post these snaps on their “stories” for ​all​ of their Snapchat friends to view.

A Snapchat user using augmented reality to engage with the Gatorade Super Bowl lens campaign.

Brands can develop their own Snapchat filters for consumers to utilize. An example of a popular Snapchat advertisement campaign is the Gatorade Super Bowl lens. This lens allowed users to step into the shoes of the winning coach at the Super Bowl. More importantly, it gave users a chance to “soak” in the glory of winning the game.

Giving users the ability to become coaches in the comfort of their own homes allowed Gatorade to integrate their brand into the lives of consumers.​ This lens had 160 million impressions, which is ​more than​ the 115 million viewers that tuned into the actual game.

By displaying your own brand through an augmented reality lens, such as those offered by Snapchat, you have the possibility of reaching millions of users ​and ​their peers in a unique and fun way.

Snapchat Advertisement Lenses Create Physical Brand Engagement

Most advertising today lacks true social brand engagement. Both digital and mass media advertising leave the brand outside consumers’ lives. With digital ads, consumers are simply ​hearing​ about the brand. With social media, they talk​ about the brand.

To keep your brand present in consumers’ daily lives, it’s vital to increase customer engagement and create relevance. There has to be that something extra to gets consumers talking.

Snapchat augmented reality differs from usual methods because it actually merges​ the brand into consumers’ lives. Incorporating a brand into the daily lives of your customers triggers genuine brand engagement and thus increases brand relevance. But what is it that makes AR features such as Snapchat lenses so effective for social media advertising?

Augmented Reality Lenses Place Advertisers In Front Of The Audience

With so many users, there is no doubt Snapchat advertising is excellent for reaching the maximum number of young individuals. It is also extremely convenient, considering that users don’t have to download a separate app to use the lenses.

Makeup brands Urban Decay and Benefit Cosmetics used this to their advantage when they ran promoted lenses on Snapchat. These interactive lenses encouraged sharing across social media networks, increasing interest and sales.

Urban Decay allows users to try on its latest lipstick release through augmented reality.

Benefit’s VP of Brand & Digital Marketing, Nicole Frusci, was pleased with the results:

“Everyone is incredibly happy with what it’s done for the brand as well as for the launch day. We noticed there was a huge amount of usage from consumers to ​beauty​ ​influencers to other partners of ours. We saw a huge spike in the cross-sharing on other channels that was greater than we expected.”

Leaders from both companies testified that the lenses were successful in raising awareness and driving purchase intent.

While costly, augmented reality advertising on social media platforms allows you to reach your target market without paying for the development of a full-blown app.

Furthermore, since so many users already have social media apps like Snapchat, they are more likely to play with these lenses than download another app. With over 100 million daily users, aging 18 to 34, just imagine the potential eyes that could see your​ brand every minute.

Augmented Reality Lenses Give Consumers Control

What further differentiates augmented reality advertising is that users ultimately create the ads themselves. It gives consumers full control over advertisement selection.

To consumers, the brand simply provides them entertainment as it merges their reality with AR.

When a new filter is released on Snapchat, users are eager to find out what funny and exciting face-changing effects the filter will have. Ultimately, this causes them to interact with the filter; their curiosity and desire to be entertained is what drives user interaction with lenses.

While some lenses feature sponsored content, users still try them out and share their interactions with friends for their own enjoyment.

The balance​ ​between sponsored and non-sponsored content keeps Snapchat users interested in the lenses. Avoiding advertisement overload is what Snapchat is doing ​right​, especially with young users who are fatigued by digital ads.

This two-way street essentially allows you as a marketer to create genuine, authentic relationships with consumers. Consumers do not like to be​ forced​ to see advertisements, which is why the free choice to use sponsored Snapchat advertising filters is key.

AR Lenses Are Highly Shareable

Snapchat’s use of AR creates an increase in customer engagement by allowing consumers to experience products in unique ways. Centering the brand experience around consumers and giving them the ability to create unique content also increases their likeliness to share it with others.

When people choose to post Snapchats of themselves using a sponsored lens, they are ultimately creating brand experiences they find worth sharing.

Essentially, consumers tell the brand’s story through producing individual content on the app and sending it to their friends.

What gives a brand the most exposure is when users post created content on their Snapchat stories. Multiplication effects then occur, as one person who sees that story may be inclined to use the lens in their own selfie. This creation and sharing of content ultimately gives your brand more earned media that you don’t even need to buy!

One company success story includes Michael Kors, who partnered with Snapchat to allow users to add sunglasses to their selfies for National Sunglasses Day.

Snapchat users virtually try on Michael Kors’ Kendal II Sunglasses.

After just one day, the Michael Kors Lens had ​more than 104 million views and ​increased ad awareness by 18%​. By encouraging Snapchat users to send their snaps to friends or post on their stories, they tripled purchase intent in a creative and entertaining way.

Overall, if you put your brand where your target audience already is, you will save time and increase potential exposure. Additionally, giving users the control to create content allows you to create genuine relationships with consumers. Finally, this freedom to create unique content will increase their likeliness to share your brand with even MORE consumers.

How to Create an Intriguing AR Advertisement Through Social Media

Making an AR lens for your brand is not as easy as you may think. When creating augmented reality advertisements on social media, there are a few key things to keep in mind.

To build a successful lens for your brand, make sure that your lens reflects your brand story, integrates with the social media’s platform, focuses on the consumer, and aligns with current times.

Align with your Brand Story

The story of your brand should be the root of all your advertisements; this will help consumers correctly interpret the lens that you create.

Furthermore, having a story that is authentic and true to your company will help mitigate the risk of possible misinterpretation of the AR lens. For example, the Beats lens demonstrates the euphoria people feel when they listen to their favorite track through Beats headphones.

Consumer playing with the Apple Beats by Dr. Dre headphone lens

Integrate with the Social Media’s Platform

Next, be sure to align the flavor of your campaign with the social media platform you choose.

Snapchat, for example, is a fun and playful application, so your advertisement lens should be exciting for consumers. For the Beats lens, ​Drake’s “Big Rings” plays in the background, while the lens detects where the user’s head, mouth and eyes are as they bob about to the track. These novel features encourage consumers​ to select the lens and send it their friends.

Focus on the Customer

While creating an AR lens, it is always important to make the user the focus of your design. In the Beats lens, the user becomes the person wearing the headphones, making them the center of the advertisement. You do not want the lens to be centered around your product. Rather, you want the consumer to feel like they the center of attention, with your product simply enhancing the experience.

Remember, giving consumers full control of content creation ultimately increases physical engagement with your brand.

Make it Timely

It’s important for your campaign to reflect what is currently happening in society. The Beats filter was timely because the lens was only available for users for 24 hours on Black Friday. This timing was great because on Black Friday consumers flock stores to get the hottest deals. By having the filter live during this critical shopping day, Beats was able to position their product in the minds of millions of users.

If you follow these 4 tips, you’re off to a great start in creating an exciting experience for your consumers!

Where it Can Go Wrong

While these tips are all very helpful, it’s difficult to create a perfect lens.

A Snapchat user engaging with the Gatorade Super Bowl lens augmented reality campaign.

Above, the Gatorade Super Bowl lens accurately portrays their brand, fits the platform, is consumer centric and timely. By having the cooler of Gatorade virtually dumped on the consumer’s head, Gatorade was able to shift the focus away from their brand and to create a stage for their customers.

However, while this Snapchat advertisement is well done, it could be even better. Gatorade could have integrated their logo on the bottom left more subtly to keep the focus on the consumer. Similarly, Beats could have integrated their logo more seamlessly with the interface.

The most important part of creating an AR lens for your product is ensuring that users become the center stage. At the same time, your content must be relevant to their daily lives.

Ultimately, this new form of marketing differentiates itself from other forms of advertising by shifting the focus away from the brand and onto the consumer. Remember this when you create your own campaign!

The Future of Physical Brand Engagement

Augmented reality looks to be the future of social media advertising. Today’s consumers have a newfound disdain for traditional advertisements in social media, making it hard for marketers to send their message. To capture and keep their attention, consumers expect more from brands; they want deeper relationships that can only be created through experiences.

This is where augmented reality comes in.

Unlike traditional social media advertising, AR in social media advertising shifts the focus towards consumers and away from the brand.

Snapchat’s AR lenses champions this notion, relinquishing all control to consumers.

However, Snapchat is not the only social media network that offers augmented reality advertising. Other platforms, such as Instagram and Facebook, are quickly hopping on the train. Moreover, using these established social media networks’ AR functions is far more efficient than creating your own AR app from scratch.

So don’t fall into the rut of traditional advertising on social media. Instead, integrate AR advertising with existing social media networks to make a lasting impression on consumers.

To keep up to date with emerging marketing techniques, subscribe to for upcoming articles on the latest and greatest AR campaigns.

This post was written by Julia Melmon, Megan Rogers, Savannah Smith, and Dr. Joachim Scholz. The authors thank Sonya Bengali for her help in editing this article. Please follow the authors on Twitter for more information on this topic.

The post Augmented Reality in Social Media: the Future of Advertising appeared first on MarketingSquad.

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How to increase the reach of tribal marketing with augmented reality Mon, 15 Jan 2018 15:00:20 +0000 Tribal marketing connects brands with communities of like-minded people and provides them with goods and services that align with their shared values. When done correctly,...

The post How to increase the reach of tribal marketing with augmented reality appeared first on MarketingSquad.

Tribal marketing connects brands with communities of like-minded people and provides them with goods and services that align with their shared values. When done correctly, tribal marketing allows you to create meaningful connections between your brand and its niche group of customers.

However, there is a big problem with tribal marketing – tribal experiences face serious limitations with space and time. As a result, consumers can’t interact with the brand as much as they’d like. This holds the tribe back, and with it, your tribal marketing strategies.

In this article, Abby Bradbury, Joseph Pack, Francesca SchorerSpencer Stewart, and Joachim Scholz explain how augmented reality overcomes the barriers of tribal marketing and boosts the engagement of your campaign.

Here’s a quick synopsis: AR gives tribe members the power to create and share individualized and decentralized tribal expressions (IDTEs) in a unique and personalized way. Below, we give you a closer look on how AR can break the barriers of tribal marketing, how AR can enable IDTEs, and how to support your tribal marketing campaign with AR.

Tribal Events: The Jeep Jamboree

The Jeep brand knows the benefits of tribal experiences. Through the Jeep Jamboree, a series of off-roading events, the brand provides drivers an opportunity to live out their shared values.

Even though tribal marketing gives customers exciting and memorable experiences, Jeep’s marketing strategy could more effectively resonate with its tribe.

The Jeep brand knows the benefits of tribal marketing

Specifically, Jeep drivers don’t get to interact with the brand as often as they’d like. The tribal events are only during a few weekends each year, and not every Jeep driver can go every year. Because of these constraints, relationships among tribe members are limited as well.

So how can you prevent this limitation? By utilizing AR, your brand can facilitate tribal experiences that go beyond the barriers of space and time.

Augmented Reality Breaks Barriers of Tribal Marketing

Augmented reality can overcome space and time to bring tribal rituals directly to the tribe’s members, even when he or she cannot make it to the tribal event. The key is to not replace in-person events in the real world, but to supplement them with AR experiences. This keeps tribal energy high and maintains brand-consumer relationships.

Thus, marketers no longer face the limitations of large tribal events. Now, brands can engage consumers in individualized and decentralized tribal expressions.

Effective AR campaigns align with tribes by functioning as an extension of the tribal gathering. This extension helps build ​consumer engagement​ and creates unique experiences between tribe members. As Jacob Lauing points out in his article on customer engagement, “it is this shifting of control over to the consumers that boosts levels of customer engagement.”

AR gives your tribe members a unique way to build relationships with each other — no matter the time or place.

The Seattle Seahawks are one of many brands that have embraced AR and can help you understand the full potential of tribal marketing.

Seahawks Create a New Kind of Football Fan

Tribal marketing connects brands with communities of like-minded people and provides them with goods and services that align with their shared values.

The Seattle Seahawks have built a tribe of fans around their prized football team. This Seattle team considers its tribe of fans to be the “12th” player on the field. The team’s community of fans celebrate this shared value by wearing “12th man” jerseys at every game.

Additionally, Seahawks fans congregate at home games as a tribal meeting point. At the beginning of each game they raise the “12th man” flag, which rallies fans to support the team.


Despite the strength of the existing relationship between the Seattle brand and its tribe, AR has taken it one step further.

With less than ten home games a year and tickets costing hundreds of dollars, it’s difficult for fans to experience rituals in person. The Seahawks tackled this by using AR to put the power of the flag in consumers’ hands, creating a unique experience that connected the tribe of fans. By creating a unique experience, you too can enable individualized and decentralized tribal expressions.

Seahawks Use AR to Enable Tribal Expressions

The Seahawks recent AR campaign allows fans to participate in tribal rituals anywhere. By downloading the Seahawks app, fans can use their phone camera to raise the game day flag on any flat surface. As the flag is raised, the crowd roars to bring the stadium community to any individual fan.


Using the geo-layer AR paradigm, which overlays AR content onto the user’s surroundings, the Seahawks’ are able to foster participation in tribal rituals. Users can “raise the flag” on their own device, rather than only witnessing the event at the football stadium. This paradigm gives control over the experience to the user.

Facilitation of a ritual outside the place and time gives tribe members a decentralized way to celebrate what they love.

The Seahawks used AR to create ​personalized interactions for existing tribe members while also expanding the tribe. By giving tribe members the ability to “raise the flag” in their unique location, it created one-of-a-kind, individualized experiences. Creating a sharable experience allowed fans to get their friends involved.

What are some best practices to support tribal marketing with AR?

1) Model a Central Tribal Ritual

To pick the right content for AR, model a central tribal ritual for your AR campaign.

The Seahawks did this just right. By modeling their content off of the central tribe’s ritual of raising the “12th man” flag, the tribal experience was extended and complemented by AR. Fans didn’t have to learn something new, but were empowered to perform their in-stadium rituals even when they weren’t able to attend the tribal event.

This allowed the Seahawks brand to utilize ITDEs effectively, ultimately keeping tribal energy high.

It’s important to note that simply creating an AR element for your marketing efforts isn’t enough – you have to truly understand how AR works to have an effective campaign.

2) Utilize the Power of Live Tribal Experiences

For AR campaigns to be successful, you have to consider the potential for IDTEs.

But, there’s a catch. AR allows tribe members to engage in tribal practices wherever and whenever. They can even engage in tribal activities when they aren’t surrounded by other members. However, AR also takes something essential out of the ritual – the communal aspect.

These individualized, decentralized tribal enactments are simply not the same as those done in the center of action with other tribe members. However, given the time and space barriers of tribal marketing, they are much needed substitutes. Marketers, then, have an imperative task:

Marketers must do all in their power to make the IDTE substitute as great as the real thing.

To ensure that your campaign fosters engaging IDTEs, you can use artifacts to create a shareable, live tribal experience.

Artifacts are the elements that exist even after an AR experience has ended. By using artifacts to create a sharable campaign, you can reach a greater audience and tap into the ​mild narcissism​ of average consumers. A campaign’s reach is also increased if bystanders can engage with the campaign.

Live sharing can recreate the communal experience of a tribal event

A great way to do this is through Facebook (and other social media) live streaming. The development of live streaming allows users to create a sense of urgency with streams that are live, instead of pre-recorded. This gives consumers the ability to experience something “in the moment” as opposed to watching on their own time. More importantly, live sharing helps maintain tribal excitement.

Thus, only by creating ​and sharing can an AR campaign reach its full potential.

Thinking Forward: Reach Your Tribal Marketing Goals

AR extends and complements tribal events by engaging consumers and allowing them to share individualized and decentralized tribal expressions.

Tribal marketing is a powerful tool, but one that faces problematic space and time barriers. Thus, tribes can’t interact with the brand or other tribe members as much as they’d like.

AR can solve this dilemma: By facilitating rituals outside of a centralized space and time, you give consumers opportunities to engage and share individualized tribal expressions. AR allows tribe members to interact with each other even if they don’t make it to the larger gatherings.

Remember, for your AR campaign to be successful, you must give your tribe opportunities to share and interact with one another.

To keep up to date with emerging marketing techniques, subscribe to for upcoming articles on the latest and greatest AR campaigns.

This post was written by Addy Bradbury, Joseph Pack, Francesca Schorer, Spencer Stewart, and Dr. Joachim Scholz. The authors thank Sonya Bengali for her help in editing this article. Please follow the authors on Twitter for more information on this topic.

The post How to increase the reach of tribal marketing with augmented reality appeared first on MarketingSquad.

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How To Maximize Your Mixed Reality Campaign Mon, 27 Nov 2017 15:00:15 +0000 In the Summer of 2016, Niantic’s Pokémon Go became a veritable cultural phenomenon. During its debut week on the app store, the app had 7...

The post How To Maximize Your Mixed Reality Campaign appeared first on MarketingSquad.

In the Summer of 2016, Niantic’s Pokémon Go became a veritable cultural phenomenon. During its debut week on the app store, the app had 7 million downloads . Its usage of location-based features and the augmented reality technology highlighted in MKTG Squad helped push mixed reality (MR) into the public consciousness.

Since Pokémon Go’s monumental success, marketers have tried to use mixed reality for their brand experiences. But, are they doing it right?

Well, not really, since those aware of mixed reality haven’t effectively leveraged it to its fullest potential.

Before we dive in, first ask yourself this: Is the Pokémon Go style of mixed reality a proper fit for my brand? If it is, great job!

But, if it’s not, here are two alternative options:

  1. Partner up to establish a MR Game
  2. Build-your-own MR experience

In this article, Divya Thirunagari, Kieran Scandrett, and Toni Mara Lantin illustrate how you can take full advantage of the mixed reality medium to create a lasting brand experience with the LAUNCH framework and ultimately maximize your brand story.

Why use the LAUNCH Framework?

Visualized on a spectrum, mixed reality is everything between pure reality and virtual reality. Its ability to “geo-lock” objects is especially noteworthy. This is key to engaging consumers and propels the LAUNCH framework and overall MR experience value.

The LAUNCH framework helps to maximize a brand’s mixed reality experience


The green “value boosters” within the LAUNCH image above, brand story fit and engagement, work alongside the inherent geo-lock. As a result, this creates a successful mixed reality experience.

How Pokémon Go Championed the LAUNCH Framework

With Pokémon Go, Niantic inadvertently fulfilled the LAUNCH framework. By capitalizing on Pokémon’s nostalgic brand story, Niantic adapted it within a mixed reality storyline.

The public was exposed to location-based mixed reality and they couldn’t get enough of it.

Thus, Pokémon Go pioneered geo-lock, with over 20 million daily active users at its peak. This meant that specific Pokémon would remain in their designated locations regardless of the user’s relative position.

Not only that, Pokémon Go showed that mixed reality marketing creates active consumers who will participate in meaningful brand experiences.

Mixed reality marketing allows brands to:

  • Build trust and establish a relationship with consumers
  • Differentiate from their competitors
  • Leave a lasting impression through impactful brand association

Beware: marketers should not apply ineffective traditional advertising methods to an immersive medium like mixed reality, where seamless consumer experiences are key.

When your consumers are inundated with intrusive advertisements, it creates an advertising dystopia similar to Keiichi Matsuda’s ‘Hyper-reality.’ If marketers aren’t careful with how they utilize mixed reality, this scenario could become a reality. It’s worth an in-depth watch or two.


The best mixed reality campaigns are created with the content-value model in mind.

Content should be the reason for making a mixed reality experience.

Whether you choose to partner with another brand to establish a MR game or build your own MR experience, it’s important that you infuse the gameplay with your brand story and create meaningful content through the LAUNCH framework.

1. Partner up to establish a MR Game

Picture this: AXA, the world’s second-largest insurance firm, and Ingress, a science-fiction based mobile game, partner up to create a mixed reality campaign.

Strange, right?

Believe it or not, this is exactly what happened in 2015. With their combined MR campaign, Ingress users were granted access to the strongest shield possible by completing a bonus mission: visit an AXA location. In addition, promotional videos created by AXA helped hype the “AXA Shield” as a must-have for supreme protection.

Ultimately, what made this unexpected partnership work was an effective utilization of the LAUNCH framework.

Their mixed reality experience took advantage of the inherent geolocation feature and created a shared game experience that adhered to both companies’ identities. It also exceeded expectations on the consumer engagement front, as more than 1.6 million users flocked to AXA’s brick-and-mortar locations.

AXA made their mark as the first insurance company to protect people both in the physical and virtual world.

You can recreate this type of success by gamifying your marketing and integrating with an already established MR game. An ideal story brand fit between two companies allows for a deeper understanding of their shared brand essence.

Of course, this type of partnership between brands may not always be a possibility. If your brand story doesn’t mesh well with another company’s brand, you can always build your own mixed reality experience.

2. Build-Your-Own Mixed Reality Experience

Nowadays, applications like equip marketers with the tools necessary to build customized location-based augmented reality apps.

However, it’s essential that you have a strong brand story that fits with mixed reality technology before embarking on developing your own MR experience.

Well-known brands can use their powerful brand identities to garner consumers’ engagement.

Let’s pretend that Nike just launched a mixed reality experience called Nike Fuel. As an established manufacturer and supplier of athletic apparel, Nike is the perfect candidate for incorporating MR technology into their marketing mix.

Within Nike Fuel, there could be geo-locked “fuel points” placed around a city to gamify Nike’s mission of “bring[ing] inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.”

Nike Fuel’s MR experience could give runners, both casual and experienced, the chance to conquer the outdoors in a fun and exciting way

These geo-locked fuel points would seamlessly incorporate into users’ daily runs. Ultimately, this ensures continuous consumer engagement with the brand. Additionally, Nike Fuel could work hand-in-hand with wearable technology. Partnering with Bluetooth-connected headphones, for example, would provide an additional auditory component to the user’s run.

This type of multi-dimensional experience could further enhance the value of the overall mixed reality experience. More importantly, it would Nike’s brand story in consumers’ minds.

Plus, it would be a crime to pass up a tagline such as, “There are no more excuses not to go out there and Just Do ItTM with Nike Fuel.”

Harry Potter: The Next Mixed Reality Craze

Hold on to your hats and broomsticks, wizards!

Two weeks ago, Niantic, the creators of Pokémon Go, set the stage for the next mixed reality cultural craze with the announcement of Harry Potter Wizards Unite.

In this a Pokémon Go-esque mobile game, users can go on adventures, learn casts and spells and discover mysterious artifacts by exploring real world neighborhoods and cities across the globe.

Harry Potter Wizards Unite will be the next mixed media phenomenon

The vibrant and imaginative nature of the Harry Potter series creates tremendous opportunity for innovative user immersion within the game.

Additionally, it looks like the game will feature some sort of real-world component as seen in Niantic’s first mixed reality title, Ingress. With such a passionate fan-base across the globe, the mixed reality opportunities are endless.

Marketers, keep your eyes out for Niantic’s big release and use it as a source of inspiration for your own mixed reality experience.

Where Can Mixed Reality Go from Here?

It’s crucial for marketers to remember that consumers are more likely to engage when the value goes beyond the screen.

Mixed reality is already beginning to create exciting, new forms of engagement between brands and consumers. As the success of AXA & Ingress and Pokémon Go show, consumers value engaging brand experiences that connect directly to their reality.

Whether you partner with another brand to establish a MR game or build your own MR experience, it’s important that you keep the LAUNCH framework in mind:

This graphic helps illustrate the essential concepts and questions to be answered within the LAUNCH framework for marketers

Mixed reality is here to stay. Now, the opportunity is here for you, a conscientious and forward-thinking marketer, to capitalize on.

To keep up to date with emerging marketing techniques, subscribe to for upcoming articles on the latest and greatest AR campaigns.

This post was written by Divya Thirunagari, Kieran Scandrett and Toni Mara Lantin. The authors thank Dr. Joachim Scholz for his guidance while writing the article and Sonya Bengali for her help in editing this article. Please follow the authors on Twitter for more information on this topic.

The post How To Maximize Your Mixed Reality Campaign appeared first on MarketingSquad.

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How to improve the retail experience with virtual fitting rooms Mon, 13 Nov 2017 15:00:29 +0000 Many consumers consider trying on clothing an inconvenient and time-consuming aspect of the retail experience. They might feel overwhelmed by the many clothing options...

The post How to improve the retail experience with virtual fitting rooms appeared first on MarketingSquad.

Many consumers consider trying on clothing an inconvenient and time-consuming aspect of the retail experience. They might feel overwhelmed by the many clothing options to circle through, or feel awkward about asking a sales attendant for a room. Some might be simply too lazy to take off their shoes – who can blame them! Regardless, many people do not want to go into fitting rooms.

This is bad for your sales.

According to Brian Laney, VP of Sales at Alert Technologies, “Shoppers who use fitting rooms are almost 7 TIMES more likely to buy products compared to those who simply browse the sales floor.” Clearly, trying on clothing is a vital step in the shopping process.

So, how can you get reluctant customers into your fitting rooms? Can AR-equipped fitting rooms be a cost-effective solution that help you to convert not only the current shopper, but also get new customers into your store?

In this article, Joachim Scholz, Nicole Madsen, and Caitlin Clausen discuss how augmented reality can improve the retail experience for your customers. AR not only enhances convenience but more importantly also creates what we call “promoter shopping” and “social shopping.”

With the swipe of a hand, Timberland’s retail experience reaches a new level

Timberland has been on a journey since 2011 to change their marketing strategies, as well as their target market – millennials.

In October of 2014, Timberland used augmented reality to bring the retail experience to a new level. Using Kinect motion sensing technology, they set up a virtual fitting room in Moktow Gallery, a shopping center in Warsaw, Poland. Here, people could try on Timberland’s newest collection without physically trying them on in a dressing room.

Check out the innovative approach to finding a new look:

This virtual fitting room uses the augmented reality paradigm known as the magic mirror. In this paradigm, the user or the objects around the user are augmented on a public screen. The users can then see their augmented selves on the screen.

Here’s the breakdown of each customer’s experience:

  1. The device followed a person’s movements, scanned their face and took a picture of them.
  2. Each person is then matched with a similar model body.
  3. On an 80-inch screen, the person could control their look by changing their outfit including jackets, jumpers, trousers.
  4. The new look was saved and sent to the user via email where they could share it on their Facebook as well.
  5. The picture was also posted in a gallery on Timberland’s fan page.

In addition to the 80-inch screen, a special iPad app was enabled for customers at Timberland in Moktow Gallery. They could take their picture and change their clothes using touch screen. This way, multiple people could be part of the campaign at once.

AR makes the retail experience convenient

So why did this AR campaign work so well for Timberland?

Timberland created value for their customers by developing a fitting room that is efficient and easy to use. The ease of trying on their clothes enticed customers and encouraged them to participate in the AR campaign.

Do you constantly find yourself overwhelmed by sorting through the many clothing options in a retail store? AR can solve this issue, making it more easy, quick, and fun to sort through these options. Being too lazy isn’t an excuse anymore!

AR can transform the retail experience by avoiding traditional fitting rooms.

The bottom line is: by easily swiping through the augmented clothing options, you can create a fun retail experience that is more convenient for your customers.

From customer to promoter

The benefits of using AR mirrors extend far beyond mere convenience. The act of trying on clothes is typically an intimate experience, but the magic mirror AR campaign turns this action into a publicly performed one.

This shift in the retail experience allows you to reach new customers.

Customers now become promoters as your fitting room shines at your storefront. Users can show off your newest clothing line to people passing by. These new promoters model the clothing in real time while shoppers nearby can observe and comment on the outfits they see. Now who doesn’t want to be a model!

Virtual fitting rooms change the retail experience by attracting more customers.

People observe others participating in the AR experience, and they’ll likely feel eager to join in on the fun and try it out for themselves. All in all, because of these promoters you have a whole new set of potential customers who would have never stepped foot in your store.

Social shopping with your social network

You can use artifacts to promote social shopping among customers and their friends. Artifacts are evidence of a user’s AR retail experience. Social shopping is when a consumer shares an artifact with their social network to elicit feedback. Basically, users showoff their augmented retail experience on social media.

For example, Timberland’s AR campaign gave users the option to post their outfit on their Facebook account. This allows customer’s networks to like, comment, suggest, and recommend different outfits. Affirmation via social media leads to a positive impact on the user’s purchase.

Remember, people do not always trust marketers – they trust their peers.

Social shopping with AR is both beneficial to your consumers and their peers. When someone posts their virtual outfit on social media, they can get feedback that’ll influence them to buy your item.

This also loops back around when someone suggests an outfit via an artifact. A person browsing their feed might see a recommended outfit on one of their friends and want to try it out themselves. Ultimately, this brings them to your store.

By adding an AR fitting room to your storefront, your virtual outfits have the potential to spread on social media through artifacts. The best part is, this exposure is created by your very own customers!

Nailing down the AR retail experience

All in all, with the use of AR technology, the way consumers use fitting rooms to try on clothing will transform the retail experience. It will entice consumers because of how convenient and enjoyable it will be to try on clothes.

Virtual fitting rooms will be a game changer.

By turning an ordinarily private act into a public one, more people will be exposed to the novel idea of virtually trying on clothes in a public space. As a result, more consumers will come in and participate in the AR retail experience.

Consumers trying on your store’s latest clothing line using AR will show their peers just how easy and fun it really is. They act as promoters for your brand and will draw in a larger customer base so you don’t have to. After all, consumers are more likely to trust peers like them over marketers.

This technology has the power to change the way traditional and digital marketing operates. Your consumers will be more inclined to purchase from virtual fitting rooms because their retail experience is fun, easy and sociable.

To keep up to date with emerging marketing techniques, subscribe to for upcoming articles on the latest and greatest AR campaigns.

This post was written by Dr. Joachim Scholz, Nicole Madsen and Caitlin Clausen. The authors thank Rachel Gasparini and Sonya Bengali for their help in editing this article. Please follow the authors on Twitter for more information on this topic.

The post How to improve the retail experience with virtual fitting rooms appeared first on MarketingSquad.

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