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Augmented Reality in OOH

Technology is forever changing the way we, as advertisers, connect with our audience. Augmented reality (AR) is no exception; it is quickly becoming a global trend and is seen as a new innovative and creative way to engage with customers. AR is “the integration of digital information with the user's environment in real time.” Not to be confused with virtual reality, which completely replaces your surroundings with a virtual environment, AR uses the existing environment and overlays new information on top of it. (Source –

As AR technologies are becoming increasing popular, more and more industries are looking for ways to incorporate it into their business. They do so by using one of the below categories of AR;

  • Marker based – Also know as image recognition, uses a camera and some form of QR code to produce a result.

  • Marker-less – uses location or GPS to provide data based on where you are.

  • Projection based – is the use of artificial lighting on a surface which responses to any form of human interaction e.g movement.

  • Superimposition based – either partially or fully replaces the original view of an object with a newly augmented view of that same object. 

(Source – Reality Technologies)

The advances in AR could see huge changes in many different industries; High penetration of smartphones and tablets is the major factor in prompting this market adoption. One of the most successful activations of AR is Pokemon Go. The app accesses a player’s GPS coordinates through their phone and allows users to locate, capture, battle, and train virtual creatures. For many, Pokemon Go was their first encounter with AR. Although this wasn’t the first time it was used, it certainly was a turning point and a major break through with many brands trying to follow suit.

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AR and OOH

It’s not just the gaming industry that could reap the benefits of AR; there is huge potential for OOH too. Many advertisers and brands have been early adaptors, with Pepsi Max’s ‘unbelievable bus shelter’ being one of the most memorable examples. They wanted to bring the “unbelievable” nature of the drink to life with something even more unbelievable. To do so, they installed what appeared to be a see-through unit in a bus shelter, with live feed. But as on-lookers watched, a series of unbelievable events started to unfold. This campaign shows brands that AR can be used successfully to go beyond the norm of paper and paste, and bring their ads to life. The video now has more then 7 million views on YouTube.

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The ability to add layers to OOH opens many doors for advertisers; it allows us bring new levels of engagement to campaigns while capturing the audience’s attention. This in turn increases sales and ultimately maximizes the return on investment. Tesco set themselves the mission to become number 1 in South Korea, without increasing their number of stores. How? After conducting a number of research projects, they discovered that Koreans are one of the most hard-working nationalities in the world, as a result they often don’t have time to go shopping. Enter Tesco – they transformed subway stations into virtual stores, allowing customers shop while they wait for their train, and get it delivered right to their door. The end result; There was over 10,000 visits to the online virtual store, new registered members rose by 76% and online sales increase 130% all without the investment of additional outlets but instead by aligning AR with their OOH campaign.

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AR gives you a more immersive platform directing people to deeper content, game-like features, and bringing the consumers into the experience. In VW’s example below, the consumer could interact with their OOH campaign. Studies have shown that when consumers experience an emotionally-charged event, it often resonates in their mind for longer therefore creating a connection with the brand and ultimately influencing sales. (Source – Forbes)

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Where does that leave us? 

We continuously search for ways to engage audiences while on the move, at the right time and in the right location. With the demand for augmented reality growing I believe that AR is the way forward and will help us achieve just that while delivering innovative and out-of-the box campaigns. Ultimately AR helps bring ads to life in a fun and engaging way.