Guest Column: AR and Selfie- how long before the twain meet?: Santanu Ghatak, MRM McCann

When the Selfieration and AR meet, the expression possibilities become endless and brands will be able to sync individually with their consumers for individual needs instead of conformity based mass-production

e4m by Santanu Ghatak
Updated: Jul 7, 2017 8:34 AM

The Pout… The Duck face… The Kissifie… The Belfie… The Birthie… The Celebrie… The Hellfie… The Safarie… The Shellfie… The Spellfie… The Tourfie… The Wakefie…

Getting too Goofie to understand? This was just the beginning, the Augmented is yet to start.

While the un-Selfie-fied smartphone users may look at the pretty thing next to them with some amount of chuckling when they take out their phones and to take the ‘carefully careless’ look for their next Facebook display picture, but it simply cannot be denied that the Selfie generation or ‘Selfieration’ has allowed for so many categories to have a fresh lease of relevance for the consumers of today and tomorrow.

The Selfie isn’t something totally new. European nobles of short yore were doing it in the Renaissance and too many nobles of the Indian sub-continent were patronising the arts to have it done for them. And thus we had modern day classical art-forms. The need for self-appreciation or the Selfie is not just sustaining the cosmetics, camera and lens, food-and-beverage, lighting and fashionable consulting industries of today but has been doing so since the middle ages. While purists may say that the ancients were about getting their images to the people, it would be better to call it just what it was… a Selfie, plain and simple.

The Selfieration happens typically to be the millennials who are looking for their 15 minutes of fame and social media is their outlet for this. When worth is defined in waking up in the middle of the night to check on the number of likes and comments on the last updated selfie with the V-finger, or if the groupfie with the coolios has been shared the most. Point of note, the Selfieration is not a particular type. Anyone with a camera phone is part of the Selfieration. But where does the Selfie lead to?

In the business sense of the word, the Selfie has led to dedicated product upgradations and supporting campaigns from smartphone manufacturers. The Selfie has made the cosmetic and related industries make, design, offer and communicate products which will let users take that perfect Selfie. It has led to network operators improve connectivity and services to make sure that the perfect sunset Selfie atop Mt. Snappy is uploaded right away to be tagged as feeling blissful. Restaurants, hotels, resorts, eco-parks and so many more places have had to re-evaluate their ambiences to let the perfect Selfie with the check-in status and also changing their menus to get the perfect Foodfies. The total revenue churned?

While one can’t put a definite handle of the business that the Selfie has done but a basic calculation gives us a figure close to $5 billion, around the South & South East Asia region. The figure here includes new product developments and media budgets and also takes into account the ancillaries which have led for the Selfie as a way of life. The 15 minutes of fame is not cheap as a cumulative revenue and tax collection at all.

The Selfie will not go anywhere not sooner or later- it will evolve to yield an experience instead of momentary bliss. The experience will be simultaneously multi-directional and user driven to have subsidised technology available not because of volume optimisation but user identified brand potentials. And this will move Augmented Reality (AR) from a software imposed action to a user generated universe where each individual carries his own reality with him.

At its essence, AR is the addition of virtual elements in the 3D sphere from where we experience the world around us, in the current scenario by using smartphones. With rapid hardware development underway, portable/ wearable devices will be commonplace and as Glass-based devices become much more user-receptive, the Selfie will cease to be about self-exhibition and move to self-promotion. The Augmented Selfie will take brands and individuals much further than any other targeted communication pieces, with retargeting and location based suggestions becoming standard arsenal.

The phenomena of AR hit a spurt with PokemonGo and it has been going uphill since. The technology currently allows for marker based and location based applications.

A Marker based application will look for a set pattern, say a bar code and will overlay an image or 3D unfolding experience.

Location based applications on the other hand truly represent the power of the technology by integrating real-world imagery with the desired results, e.g. a selfie while trying on products, or tracking one’s location and when the screen is tacked against a background, it throws out a list of areas of interest.

We always have individuals not considering themselves the norm, using products which have been niche-defined for them. For these consumers, and there is no dearth of such sets- more on that in a bit, there are self-niche defining products which help these users make their own universes. Any brand or any promoted brand value will thus get its universal citizens.

What happens in the movement of online social engagement in such a real-world scenario? While it may seem that brand proposed universe sets would hold the fort but realisation dawns that choices and permissions come in from individuals and not as trickledown effects. The effect of badge value for consuming certain brands over others has always been there, and AR will come into the picture by bringing alive this engagement with the brand by an abstract physical experience (for example in the retail or auto space for trying out new products) instead of just keeping static logos or product placements in pictures. AR will not be a stop-gap measure but the base from which all future marketing technology will evolve.

When the Selfieration and AR meet, the expression possibilities become endless and brands will be able to sync individually with their consumers for individual needs instead of conformity based mass-production. The individual user in his individual universe will be premium-ised.

And to complete the journey, we will call the AR Selfie an ARfie.. Not to be confused as Odie’s Selfie J

(The author is Business Director, MRM McCann)

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of

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