Why Augmented Reality is Doing You a Disservice

The caption promised me an “insightful slide show.” Purely for curiosity’s sake I pulled out my smartphone and scanned the augmented reality (AR) marker on the magazine page.

I leaned back a few minutes later and put it down to another AR disservice—or a case of “un-marketing.” The slide show consisted of three slides, the accompanying type too small to make any sense of on my iPhone screen.

It was another case of just because we can does not mean we should. It was the perfect example of using new technologies purely for the sake of it—similar to the use of QR codes. Some marketers want to use technology whether it makes sense—and thus provides a good user experience—or not.

A good user experience—let’s be realistic here—takes work. Lots of work. It has to be planned and executed well.

I recently had the chance to create such add-on value for the Visual Media Alliance’s newly launched magazine, Storyboard. Trying to be mindful (on a small budget, mind you), we interviewed award-winning designer Michael Osborne and created six short insightful videos that allow viewers to go behind the scenes of his studio and explore several of his unique sources of inspiration.

And yes, a lot of planning and finessing and editing was involved in the project. But so far, from the feedback we are getting, it was oh so worth it.

Let’s be Smart About Technology and Learn from the Best
Victoria’s Secret has been at the forefront of mobile commerce for quite some time. One of the reasons why the brand leads in this field is because their app and use of AR does not solely focus on driving sales. Instead, the app integrates content like games and weather forecasts designed to drive repeat usage.

But you do not have to have your own app to break AR ground and make sensible and successful use of the technology.

Sabine Lenz is the founder of PaperSpecs.com, the first online paper database and community specifically designed for paper specifiers.

Growing up in Germany, Sabine started her design career in Frankfurt, before moving to Australia and then the United States. She has worked on design projects ranging from corporate identities to major road shows and product launches. From start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, her list of clients included Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Deutsche Bank, IBM and KPMG.

Seeing designers struggle worldwide to stay current with new papers and paper trends inspired Sabine to create PaperSpecs, an independent and comprehensive Web-based paper database and weekly e-newsletter. She is also a speaker on paper issues and the paper industry. Some refer to her lovingly as the "paper queen" who combines her passion for this wonderful substrate called paper with a hands-on approach to sharing her knowledge. 

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  • dave nelson

    THANK you! My pet peeve is a print product where the advertiser uses some obscure AR program that you have to 1. download, 2. learn, 3. point at the ad in just the right position, 4. wait for the content to load, 5. be disappointed by the flat, stuttering, promotional video that I could have accessed via a link so much faster.

    My favorite was the Starbucks holiday AR app that used their cups to show a cute animation.

  • GinaTesta

    Augmented reality can be effective, as long as it is well-done and appropriate for your target audience. Studies show that marketing campaigns generate better results when multiple media are deployed, including both print and digital. So, when brands find a creative way to integrate print with mobile (like augmented reality), they are able to reach a larger population that prefers mobile—something they weren’t able to do before the influx of digital technology. Today’s consumers embrace brands that set trends and utilize the latest and greatest technology. But marketers need to know if these trends are appropriate for their audience. Thankfully, the data that drives a personalized approach is more accessible and useful than ever.

    My favorite example is IKEA – allowing people to visualize furniture in their own space with the interactive catalog. – Gina Testa, Xerox US Graphic Communications Operations, @GinaTesta