How Augmented Reality will hide advertising
AR (Augmented Reality) is going to become much more a part of a few people’s world in 2017, and it’s likely to become much more commonly used by a larger part of society in their daily lives in the next five years.
There are those who are concerned that it will seem overly intrusive. They worry that the fictional objects overlayed on reality will be in our faces, shouting, dancing around, distracting us from what we really need to have in the forefront of our thoughts.
For obvious reasons, that wouldn’t always be effective. Turning your cart into the cereal aisle in the supermarket and having Tony the Tiger, large as cartoon life, telling you that Frosted Flakes are grrrrrrrreeeeeeeaaaaaaaatttttt is probably not going to make you buy Kellogg’s product. It might actually make you turn around and go the other way. 🙂
However, there may be something else AR can do which will affect your buying habits.
Have you ever been shopping and noticed something in somebody else’s cart…and then checked it out on the shelf? Have you heard two customers discussing a product positively, and thought you’d give it a try?
This “influence by osmosis” (to coin a term) could be manipulated so subtly by AR that you wouldn’t even realize you’d been sold a product.
Here’s how it could work.
First, consumers need to have the AR technology. That could be glasses, looking through a phone, be some sort of projection (from a watch, perhaps), and far in the future, an implant might be possible.
Second, they need to be using it. Some people will only engage AR in certain circumstances…others will have it on all the time, so it can give them alerts and information. Shopping is one of those information intense activities, though…you’ll want to know about product alternatives, safety and health information (products that fit your diet might show with a green border around them, for example), price comparisons, inventory checks on what you already own, and so on.
Once those two conditions are in place, subtle AR advertising could take place. For example, a product could appear to be in another shopper’s cart (with the label face up), even if it wasn’t. As a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, I can tell you that how books appear on the shelves affects sales…people do judge a book to some extent by the cover, so if the book is “faced” (with the cover out, as opposed to the spine), that’s influential. AR could make it that, even when customers place items on the shelves without the “cover” faced, it could appear that it was. You could see billboards, or bus ads, that didn’t actually exist…and that could be catered to you, just like banners on internet sites are now. Even more subtle, and probably extra effective: Snapchat type filters on other shoppers, making their pupils appear dilated (a sign of interest), or a subtle smile while they are looking at the advertiser’s product.
AR doesn’t need to be just visual. You could be standing outside a movie theatre, trying to decide which movie to watch. A crowd exits, since a movie just finished. You hear someone say, “Doc Savage was so cool!” In actuality, that’s just a voice overlayed on the crowd noise by your AR.
Since these things would appear to you to be real, you wouldn’t have the same critical thinking evaluation of them that you would with an obvious advertising episode. That’s why augmented reality, such as that provided by the Microsoft HoloLens, may be a much more effective advertising tool that virtual reality (which replaces what you see…AR puts things into the real world, VR puts you into another world).
This sort of thing has been done in low tech ways. People have reportedly been paid to ride around on public transit all day, talking to each other about how great a product (a movie, for example), is. Overhearing a conversation like that can be very powerful…when you don’t realize it was being said for your benefit.
What could you do about this?
Very little. 🙂
Even if you were aware of it, seeing other humans appearing to assess a product positively is going to tend to make you see it positively. As I like to say, seeing through is not seeing past. Oh, I suppose you could choose not to use AR at all…just as you can choose not to go on the internet or use a phone. 😉 That would put you at a massive disadvantage, though…everyone else in the store is getting healthier, safer, better things than you are. You may occasionally make an out of the box choice which is better than theirs…but it will have taken you a lot more effort to make that choice.
Augmented Reality influence by osmosis is in your future…and you won’t even know when it arrives. 😉
What do you think? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.
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