Augmented reality (AR) is rapidly growing mobile technology that has many uses for businesses. One of the most powerful applications is the marketing functionality it has for small- and medium-sized local businesses. This is as a result of potential customers who are already using specific AR applications to search for products and services local to them.
While AR has many practical uses, there are specific applications for local businesses that can allow them to engage with prospective customers in a very effective manner.
Your business can have a place on local mobile phones similar to this:
The Uses for Local Businesses
The most important application available for local businesses is to be listed on Layar, the most popular augmented reality mobile app, available across all smart phone platforms.
Here is How Layar Works for Local Businesses`
Layar is a mobile application that displays the locations of relevant local businesses, and information about those businesses, to local mobile users who view the information according to their location. The image above shows Layar from a user’s point of view. You can see that specific nearby businesses are displayed, along with information about the business’s direction and distance from user, the business name, address, phone number, website and other details. This is technology that local businesses can now make use of.
The User Experience: Why Do Potential Customers Use Layar?
David Meerman Scott wrote on his blog (http://www.webinknow.com) an article titled “Why Layar is the coolest iPhone app in the world”, which puts across very simply why Layar is such a landmark user experience:
“As I travel the world, I frequently find myself in an unfamiliar city looking for a meal. I usually get quite particular about what I'm looking for, saying to myself: ‘Tonight I think some Thai food will be good,’ ...
“...I open up the ‘Eat’ layer (if I am in the U.S. at the time or its equivalent in other countries), point the camera at the street and see various restaurant names and locations pop up as a layers on top of the camera image. I can even see reviews in another layer. As I pan the camera around the city streets, other nearby restaurants pop into view with a marker on the building of it is visible in the camera so I can find a Mexican joint.”
“...Layar combines your mobile camera with your GPS location plus huge data sets. The best way to think of Layar is like a cable television provider with your mobile as the television. The different content suppliers (there are hundreds) are like the different cable TV stations and the ‘shows’ on that station are displayed depending on where you are at the time based on your GPS coordinates.”
“Layar is both truly global and hyper local. The data sets come from all over the world. Yet you can find something valuable a few steps away from where you are right now. I think GPS-enabled devices with data applications become remarkable marketing platforms for all kinds of businesses—restaurants and bars, retail shops, health clubs, educational institutions, real estate, and more. Having the ability to deliver information to someone at the moment of need while they are nearby your business is a remarkable opportunity. Layar is real-time. Layar tells me what I need to know, now, when I need the information...”
The uses of Layar for local businesses are many and varied. For a start, businesses can be found by potential customers looking for them. Beyond that the business can interact with the users in the area in an act of carefully-crafted marketing genius. Having a prospective customer within a mile of the business opens many possibilities for clever marketing.
A business can set up their augmented reality listing to interact with the Layar user in a number of ways. The business can have their phone number, email address or text-contact number pop up, or even their mobile website, a audio recording or a video. It is even possible to program these tasks to happen automatically, when prospective customers are within a certain distance, such as 10 or 20 meters, for example.
Image the power of having users come within a certain distance of a business, and having a video of the business owner pop up and invite them inside, possibly offering them a discount deal for their first visit. This is a smart marketing technique, and businesses need to think along the line of leveraging modern technology for effective marketing purposes.
This is the past, present and projected number of Layar-capable smart phones globally. The user-base is massive, and growing at an increasing rate. These numbers represent people. These people are all consumers, looking for products and services from local businesses every day. Businesses need to learn how to be found.
The Future of Augmented Reality for Businesses
It pays to prepare now for the future. Most small- and medium-sized local businesses have no concept AR, or the current potential that exists right now. As the technology grows at an explosive rate, the businesses that have a grasp of its potential, and an existing presence on AR, will be well-prepared for the increased marketing potential for generating and retaining new customers.
Like anything, it pays in the long run to prepare for what the future will bring. This needs to be done through firstly understanding, and then participating. Augmented reality had been described as “the internet in the 90’s” because it is still new, but set for massive growth in the very short term. Those who see the potential and take action now will be far better for it going forward. Not having a presence in AR will soon become like not having a website – it will be unthinkable.
Here is an illustrative view of Layar’s vision for the future potential of AR
The future growth of augmented reality has been secured by many contributing factors.
One of the most significant is the projected growth of Layar. Already at millions of users in a very short space of time, its future growth has been further secured by these four major recently-announced partnership deals:
- Global deal signed with Samsung (biggest Android phone producer)
- Pre-installed on LG smart phones in NL
- US prime time advertising with Verizon
- Announced partnership with Sprint
The major future growth factor is Google’s large investment in the technology. Google has announced their augmented reality glasses, nicknamed “Google Goggles”. These will be glasses that give users a continual augmented view of the world. The possibilities of Google integrating augmented reality with their existing functions have large implications for all businesses. Think about Google maps and places, Google Ads, Google social media and Google search, all integrated with AR and interacting with users in real time in a geographically-specific manner.
The point is that Google has clearly recognised the opportunity and have decided to invest. Whatever Google does will likely become prolific, because their influence on everyday modern life. It is important for all businesses to see Google’s investment as an early indication of the sheer scale of the near-future of augmented reality, and the role it will play in modern life for everyone.