• Special Gem Media

How to Use AR In Campaigns: The Ultimate Guide to Augmented Reality Marketing part 1

Augmented reality (AR) has the potential to boost your marketing campaign by making the target audience more engaged and emotionally connected to your brand.

Would you like to learn how to make the most out of AR in your campaign? How to integrate the process of AR development in your campaign planning? How to pick the right technology, how many resources should you allocate, and what common mistakes should you definitely avoid when working with AR?

Then this extensive guide is precisely for you. We will cover:

  • How can AR boost your marketing communication?

  • What types of AR experiences should you consider?

  • How to choose the right technology for your AR development?

  • 5 mistakes to avoid when using AR in marketing

  • Why is this the perfect time to make use of AR?

  • Step by step guide to implementing AR in your campaign

And here are the key take-aways:

  • AR has tremendous potential for making your target group engaged with and immersed in your campaign.

  • You cannot rely on AR’s novelty effect. The technology must be smoothly embedded in the whole campaign plan if you want to avoid wasting resources.

  • WebAR has recently made AR in marketing more affordable – this is the perfect time to use AR in your campaign.

How can AR boost your marketing communication?

Before we answer this question, let’s just quickly cover the difference between virtual and augmented reality to make sure we are all on the same page.

In short, virtual reality (VR) brings a user to a brand new digital world. An example would be a simulated walk through a virtual 3D castle. Contrarily, augmented reality (AR) brings artificial elements to a real environment.

AR layers virtual objects onto users’ reality – think of Snapchat or Messenger photo filters. Both technologies allow you to design interactions with the virtual world, or virtual elements in the real world.

The most well-known AR-based digital product is definitely the Pokémon Go mobile game which launched in 2016 and became an instant sensation. Pokémon Go definitely proved the enormous potential of AR for the gaming industry. But can brands and campaigns also benefit from the technology?

The short answer is YES, they most definitely can! Otherwise we won’t be writing this extensive guide to AR development for marketing campaigns.

According to Deloitte, more than 90% of companies with $100+ million annual revenue leverage AR and VR in their marketing efforts. But how can we be sure they are not just pumping money into the most recent, “coolest” technologies available?

Well, we can’t be sure – many of their campaigns have probably flushed the AR-dedicated money down the toilet by only using it as a trendy, novel element. However, if AR is applied in a smart, well thought-through way, it can greatly boost your campaign’s interactivity, creativity, and immersiveness.

Your product or message becomes more tangible, and this in turn makes your target audience more emotionally connected to the brand. To back this up with numbers, a 2018 study found a 20+% increase in interaction rates and a 33% increase in click-through rates when AR was part of a communication campaign.

What types of AR experiences should you consider?

When using AR in your marketing campaign, you can really make the most out of your team’s creativity. The chance to create new virtual elements and bring them to the real world opens up an endless amount of possibilities.

However, you should try to sort your team’s ideas for interactive AR experiences into three main categories. This will come in handy when planning the AR development itself.

World effects

Let’s start with world effects. This type of AR is all about virtual objects becoming part of the real world, and usually also interacting with our reality. World effects are a great choice if you are bringing certain imaginary objects or creatures to life.


We are so used to fun photo filters being part of our everyday digital conversations that most people do not even think of them as a type of AR.

Whether you personally are a big fan of photo filters or not, you have to acknowledge their popularity and ability to make people entertained and engaged, and to encourage interaction with one another.

If your campaign strategy is primarily social media-based, adding a custom filter to it might benefit its levels of engagement and entertainment.

Filters will also be a great choice for you if your plan is to bring your target audience an innovative, practical tool that will help them choose the right product without visiting a physical store. One of the most well-known examples is L’Oréal’s MakeUp Genius app from 2014 which offered a super-convenient try-on of most of the brand’s products.

Although we are most familiar with face filters, other applications might be developed too. A good example is the Wanna Kicks app from 2019 which allows you to try on a wide variety of sneakers from your home.

Another filter application might be so called hyper-reality in stores and malls. This type of AR is often used for engaging and immersive navigation around a specific real environment.


This type of AR allows you to take your target audience on a journey to discover a whole new world. When the experience is triggered, the user can look around and navigate through a virtual environment with their smartphone handled in the real world.

How to choose the right tech for your AR marketing campaign

Alright, so you already have a better understanding of the different types of AR experiences. Let’s talk tech now! You will need to answer two main questions: What platform is most suitable for your AR development plans? And what is the ideal AR experience trigger for your campaign?

Choosing the right platform

AR experiences can be web browser-, app-, or social media-based.

When deciding which of these options is the most suitable for your campaign, you should consider the communication touch points you are planning to introduce, the technological capabilities of your target audience, the time and place where people will most likely be confronted with your AR elements, and the way they should interact with them.

Web AR

The term WebAR describes AR experiences that are accessible through a common mobile web browser, without the need to download and install any special app. In our opinion, this technology is a game-changer in the field of AR marketing as it diminishes one of the main barriers to interacting with AR elements of a campaign – the fact that people hate downloading new apps.

Although opting for WebAR inevitably brings certain technological limitations, you will still be able to get creative with simple animations, videos, basic interactivity, and target image detection. A great tool for web-based AR development is the 8thWall SDK.

AR for social media

Are you working on a new social media campaign which could benefit from an AR element? Do you think that AR might spice things up nicely but you don’t want to make it one of your fundamental tactics and spend too much resources on AR development?

Then you might want to go for a custom camera filter. This will naturally largely limit your possibilities, however, a filter might still add a very nice engaging touch to your social media communications.

There’s been a ton of successful filters developed for social media campaigns before. And the platforms are actively encouraging advertisers to create more. For example, Snapchat AR Lens offers a convenient, easy-to-use web builder of filters made of customizable pre-defined elements.

Triggers and interaction with the environment

This part of your AR development planning is all about getting in the shoes of your target audience and deep-diving into the use cases of your AR experience.

Where, when, and how should people interact with your AR? What is the best way of intertwining the AR element with the rest of your campaign?

As we’ve already covered, world effects can be either marker-based (locked to a specific point in the real environment), or surface-based (moving along a detected surface in the real environment). This should be mainly based on the practicalities of the target use situations.

But how should the AR experiences start? What will be the turn on button?

Many AR campaigns use image-tracking. The experience is triggered once the user captures a specific element in the real environment. Mind that this doesn’t need to be a QR code, it can also be your product, for instance.

An alternative approach is location-tracking. The experience starts as soon as the user moves to a certain place in the real environment. Mind that the user first needs to allow tracking their location in settings to make this work. And for some user segments, sharing their location is a no-go.

Thanks, it for now stay tuned for part 2

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