Augmented Reality (AR) for Social PR: The Next Big Thing?

Augmented Reality is coming soon to a mobile phone near you, experts predict. When blogging greats like Robert Scoble take a video look at something, people watch! Scoble, named one of the five most influential Twitterers by the Financial Times, sat down at an Amsterdam cafe to get the latest Social PR video scoop on Augmented Reality.

Augmented reality sounds really cool, but what exactly is it? And why should the online marketing and public relations industry care?

I first learned of it last summer at Search Engine Strategies San Francisco via Howard Ogden and Tracy Falke, major advocates of this technology.

What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented Reality (AR) technology places virtual objects around users through their smart phones and has the power to make the world around us clickable. Triggered by location or any image imaginable, this technology enriches everyday objects with digital content. It also allows for practical and useful experiences to happen immediately with the snap of a digital picture.

Juniper predicts that revenue associated with AR will grow from $6m in 2008 to $350m by 2014.

Check out the video below as Howard Ogden and Tracy Falke demo their mobile augmented reality application, Mobilistar, with tech blogger Robert Scoble.

“We want to make it really easy for people to experience layers,” said Falke. “Not just as fun thing to do, but also as a useful ‘use case.’  We’d like you to be able to purchase, bookmark and download immediately.”

“What we love about it, and what we find clients love about it is you don’t need to have an ugly QR code,” Falke continues.  “You can literally ‘check in’ to a Coke can.  You can ‘Like it.’  You can do whatever you want, but with the branded imagery.  It’s literally a seamless experience.”

The application is certainly engaging and fun, but what are the practical benefits available to public relations professionals?

1.  Press Releases using Augmented Reality: Make your press releases work harder for you.

  • Rich Media Content: You can use images to launch a range of rich media content, social links, and 3D experiences. Imagine you’re launching a new line of automobiles. In addition to the standard press release, you can also augment the image with an animated 3D model of the car, allow users to change certain attributes, such as paint color, accessory kits, etc.  Then, you can take it a step further, allowing users to like, share, tweet or “check-in” to the brand, object or image, thus spreading the message virally.
  • Useful Content:  Instead of the standard, “Company Profile and Contact Details” segment of the traditional press release, you can use an image or marker to connect immediately to social media profiles, dial or store the press contacts, or launch company profile web or multi-media content.

2.  PR Events – Stage Augmented Reality Experience events: Nothing gets tongues wagging like an amazing event experience.  Augmented reality can be used at event in a number of ways:

  • Visual display of floor plans and event information through the augmented reality browser
  • Augmented Tours Users can point their camera at an object or image and see multimedia content, functions and features of products or the experiences can be launched by GPS co-ordinates.

3.  Eliminating Old School Metrics: For the first time, the PR industry can close the attribution loop.  Professionals can use augmented reality and image recognition to measure how, where and when users interact with a press campaign.  Mobilistar’s sophisticated in-app analytics package allows PR and marketing executives to see statistics on how much their content was accessed, interacted with and shared, whether it’s in a print publication, on a website, or from a simple billboard campaign.

Check out Robert Scoble’s other videos on http://youtube.com/scobleizer or even better, him  on Twitter or on his blog.

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