Nothing excites the imagination more than the concept of virtual or augmented reality. These are concepts that science fiction novels, films and shows have been teasing us for ages and over the years it has now become a reality. Even now the jury is still out on how practical these solutions are but work on both platforms has been progressing by leaps and bounds.
We have already seen Tata Motors carry out an audacious campaign in the year that went by, worth, according to some estimates around Rs 7 crore, to promote the launch of the Tata Tiago by using virtual reality (VR). It was a relatively simple but well executed campaign and remains the most prominent example of the use of one of these technologies from a marketing standpoint in India in 2016.
Augmented reality (AR), on the other hand, got a huge boost by the overwhelming popularity seen by Ninatic and The Pokemon Company’s hit game Pokemon Go. For many, it was the user case they had been waiting for.
For example, when we spoke with Arnav Ghosh, the MD of Blippar, a pioneer in augmented reality solutions for brands in early 2016, he said that adoption of the concept had been slow in the market.
Fast forward to December 2016 and this is what he had to say, “This year consumer AR became mainstream thanks to Pokemon go , some perception shift has also happened where AR is no longer a Image recognition tool but a bridge between the physical and Digital driven by AI and machine learning. AR will ultimately drive more real world discovery and become the browser of the physical world.”
This is a sentiment that has been expressed by a number of agencies we spoke with.
Ashish Patkar, Founder and CEO, Monk Media Network, opined that 2016 has been especially good for AR. “Brands in specific sectors are applying it heavily. While the quality of content is far from world-class right now the technology is starting to see acceptance. But AR content creators need to up their game big time,” he said.
Rajiv Dingra, Founder and CEO of WATConsult also credited Pokemon Go with increasing awareness about the capabilities of augmented reality. Comparing the ‘Go’ phenomenon with Orkut, he said, “I think 2016 will be remembered as the year when AR went main stream globally and the reason is the success of Pokemon Go. While one may push it off as a fad, what it did was clearly demonstrate how powerful the usage of AR can be and how it can drive behaviour among users.”
Interestingly, it seems that the use of AR and VR has also seen marked increase in the B2B segment according to Charulata Ravikumar, CEO India of SapientNitro and Razorfish, who says that a number of B2B clients are adopting AR and VR to train partners and representatives about their products and services.
So what does the actual adoption scenario look like?
“AR is being used mostly in the real estate sector. The players are using it as a display mechanism and are seeing huge interest level spikes amongst the consumers to view this technology. Also the portability of AR content is playing a major role in cost reduction,” said Patkar, while Dingra said that around 20-30 percent of the brands they deal with are considering ideas around AR.
However, both also agreed that there will still be some time before brands actually start using augmented or virtual reality as a strategic tool with the majority of use cases currently being done just to grab eye balls and as one off scenarios.
“As of now it's one off campaign use but as things move ahead I do see a strategic role for AR as well. AR is pegged to be a 90-billion-dollar industry globally by 2020. Given India being a fast-growing digital market, AR is will have growth numbers here as well by then,” said Dingra.
According to Ghosh, “While our perception of AR is linked to experiences driven through brands, there is already some native adoption across manufacturing / retail / supply chain/ aviation/ healthcare for enterprise AR this year. However, even on consumer AR there is significant effort to make it more mass and create opportunities to drive more adoption with key stakeholders through SDK / API's and licenses.”