The ad potential of AR

AR outlook is bright

Augmented reality (AR) has the potential to become a powerful new digital marketing tool, according to one of the biggest brands to embrace it so far.

For the uninitiated, AR can be accessed via a PC webcam or a powerful phone such as an iPhone or Android-enabled device. It takes a real-world image and superimposes a digital layer, which may feature text, graphics or animations.

Although the technology has existed for years, AR has been slow to catch on with the general public. More recently, however, several high-profile apps have begun to take advantage of its potential. For example, IBM offered phone users the chance to get live information from the Wimbledon Championships 2009. And jeweller Holts Lapidary provided an interactive experience by allowing consumers to virtually try on watches and bracelets.

Financial Times in AR commitment

Meanwhile, the Financial Times got in on the act by launching its first AR app recently. Jon Slade, global online and advertising sales director for the Financial Times, explained that AR advertising can be applied to a wide range of subjects.

He said: "A lot of advertising in the Financial Times relates to issues such as the environment and the future of cities. AR can be used to illustrate the points that advertisers want to make." He added: "If someone is interested in the message of a print ad, you can provide more content online through the use of AR."

AR also has potential as an interactive gaming platform. Titles such as ARQuake and Parallel Kingdom allow users to play games that are based on their real-world surroundings. And General Electric has developed an advergame entitled Smart Grid to promote the company's green credentials.

In the following video, the Wimbledon AR app from IBM is demonstrated: