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Augmented Reality and Print Media: The Basics

December 17, 2014

Augmented Reality and Print Media Marketing

When you hear the words “augmented reality,” what do you think of? Just a decade ago, AR was associated with Terminator-style virtual words. Today, however, it’s a reality for everyone from print publishers to marketers, app developers and more.

Over the last five years, augmented reality has developed into one of the marketing world’s biggest and most influential trends. It’s appeared in print magazines, on the side of Starbucks coffee cups and even on iconic bottles of Swedish vodka. 

When used effectively, augmented reality lets consumers dive into your marketing campaign to learn more about your products and services, discover your company values and built a relationship with your brand. 

In this guide, we’ll look at the basics of augmented reality and print marketing. Read on to learn how augmented reality works, why it’s so effective, and how you can put it to use in your own print media marketing campaigns.


What is augmented reality? 

Augmented reality is simple: it’s reality, augmented. Using a combination of print (or any other form of physical media) and a smartphone or tablet device, marketers can combine the physical world and the digital world to enhance their advertising. 

From a technology perspective, augmented reality is surprisingly simple. Using the camera built into smartphones and tablets, your mobile app can recognize when a consumer is interacting with one of your products. 

Using augmented reality, you can display additional information about your product on the consumer’s device screen, develop a fun game or interactive experience that relates to your product, or make it easy for people to share an talk about your brand.


What makes augmented reality effective? 

Augmented reality lets marketers create a competitive advantage that their biggest competitors don’t have. Take the Starbucks coffee cup we mentioned earlier – it’s a product with hot competition, but none of Starbucks’ competitors are using AR. 

Thanks to augmented reality, the cup of Starbucks coffee becomes more than just an energizing beverage – it becomes a unique, interactive experience that people can’t wait to tell their friends about. 


How to use AR in print marketing 

By making your print advertising augmented, you can expand both the size of your ad (via the user’s mobile device) and its interactivity level beyond that offered by a traditional print media ad. 

Imagine if instead of being limited to a small half-page magazine spot, you could turn your magazine ad into an entire catalog that users can flip through and browse on their smartphone. With augmented reality, this is both possible and affordable. 

Or imagine if, instead of having to call your company to claim an offer, people could simply scan your print media advertisement and browse a list of your nearest retail locations, complete with touch-to-call phone numbers and email addresses? 

You can even use people’s pre-existing buying patterns to choose which products they should see first. Successful direct marketing is about increasing engagement and decreasing friction – two tasks an effective AR campaign achieves with ease.


How can you use augmented reality in your print marketing? 

From Starbucks’ innovative and endlessly shareable Christmas campaign to Net-a-Porter’s interactive storefront, many of the world’s biggest brands have used AR to make their print and display advertising campaigns stand out from the crowd. 

Whether your goal is to increase brand recognition, generate leads or drive direct sales, AR could be a powerful tool for achieving your marketing goals. How could your business use augmented reality to enhance its print media marketing?