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Guest Column: Inclusive Advertising: Possibilities of the future

04-June-2016
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Guest Column: Inclusive Advertising: Possibilities of the future

The future will see more adverts provide customers with immersive experiences and seamlessly merge augmented reality and virtual reality, to provide visual, auditory and kinaesthetic experiences to reinforce customer decision making, writes Samir Chaudhary, Samir Chaudhary, Co-Founder, The Media Ant.

The 2002 film, ‘Minority Report’ took cognitive science fiction to a whole new level, but introduced a range of new concepts that had the cogs turning among advertisers and marketers. One of the futuristic ideas presented was the concept of targeted and personalised advertisements to a person specific audience. As the protagonist enters a mall, he is greeted by name and by a holographic character who tries to sell him a product. 

Back then, the idea seemed futuristic and something that could be a possibility 25 years ahead, however, advancements in data, analytics, facial recognition, real-time information delivery and cloud have made this possible ahead of time. Advertising has moved from being a delivered message to a large and un-segmented group to a focussed delivery that is personalised and customised to the recipient. 

Selling the experience

Advertising is gradually progressing to become inclusive and make the customer a part of the experience. An inclusive experience transcends beyond the traditional forms of media to digital and physical channels that allow the customer to experience the first touch-point of the product or service advertised. Early forms of inclusive experiences included magazines that carried small patches in the two fold spread, which allowed the customer to rub their wrists against it and experience the fragrance of the perfumes being promoted. 

Digitisation gave way to augmented reality that broke grounds in how customers were able to accelerate their decision making process. Advertising no longer became about promoting 4-5 specific fast moving products, it was about what the customer wanted. A fashion brand began using augmented reality by giving customers the option of browsing various clothing options online, printing a QR marker and holding it front of their web camera. The marker augmented the clothes they picked out allowing them to see how it would look on them, even before trying them on. A leading online eyewear brand in India experimented with augmented reality allowing shoppers to try on eyewear before making the purchase. 

It’s data, data and more data 

Data is the oil that helps the smooth functioning of inclusivity in digitised advertising. Every customer interaction online is captured analyzed and then funnelled to retarget the customer towards an up-sell. Analytics has propelled how a sale through targeted advertising can be made personal to a customer. Simple nuances like addressing the customer by their name, mentioning their last purchase or by notifying them of pending purchases, inclusivity goes a long way towards reinforcing their affiliation towards the brand. And advanced analytics are the road to getting there. 

Analytics allows advertisers to specifically work their offerings based on customer interactions. Each engagement can be clocked to provide a detailed insight into the customer’s requirement, thus providing advertisers clarity into what they ought to sell. 

Get immersed 

Virtual Reality (VR) is taking the world by storm and is soon turning into the face of inclusive advertising. The potential of virtual reality combined with 360 degree videos can take advertising to a new pinnacle, allowing the customer to be a part of the advert, rather than merely a spectator behind the fourth wall. Companies whose offerings have a great deal of visual experiences, stand the best chance of optimally utilizing the potential of VR.

Tourism companies are experimenting with VR to provide customers with immersive experience of what their holidays would look like, during the planning stages. It’s almost like the demo of a game, where the customer gets to experience the basics before booking their complete holiday. Travellers also get to see and view their hotel rooms or dorms before making their final decision. While this moves away from the traditional form of advertising, the hotel or tourism department is still focussed on promoting themselves by providing the customer a sneak peek. 

Unconventional, but real estate companies stand to reap huge opportunities from VR. Post the awareness stages of the advertising campaigns, the next point of advertising or reinforcement is usually during the walk through of the model villas and apartments.  The high costs of building and furnishing the model apartment can now be mitigated through VR. Customers can experience a walk through of the model apartment and gain a photo-realistic perspective of what the build would look like, without having to visit the site or leaving the comfort of their home. 

Hello Future

The ‘one way communication’ form of advertising is slowly seeing a lack of effectiveness owing specifically to poor measurability. Analytics, once again plays an integral role in determining the success of your advertising campaign and how customers have engaged with it. Inclusivity in advertising is seeing a great deal of adoption, and an even greater success rate. The future will see more adverts provide customers with immersive experiences and seamlessly merge augmented reality and virtual reality, to provide visual, auditory and kinaesthetic experiences to reinforce customer decision making. Inclusive advertising will also be aimed at reducing decision making time and providing customers with a gateway at making their purchase instantly. 

As technology advances, and a greater amount of customer data is available to companies, personalising offerings is bound to turn into a mandate rather than a brand marketing luxury. Companies that focus on making their customers a part of their offering experience will see a greater difference in conversion, sale and brand loyalty. 

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