You walk down the street and pass a poster on a wall advertising a new music album. In reality, all you see is a piece of paper with a color image. But there might be a whole interactive world on that poster that is completely invisible to the naked eye.

That interactivity is possible due to a new marketing tool called augmented reality (AR), which is dramatically transforming the way that companies and consumers are interacting with each other. But what is AR? And how are companies using it to further brand awareness and create meaningful interactions with customers? Let's dive a bit deeper…

The Hidden World of Augmented Reality

Through AR, just about any object that you see in the physical environment around you—from the T-shirt on someone passing by to a statue in the park—could be concealing a hidden AR layer laden with supplemental information. AR is experienced through the use of a tool such as a lens (like Google Glass) or mobile interface. By looking through a lens or screen, a user is given an alternate view of the surrounding environment that would be impossible to experience without the aid of a digital device.

AR primarily works by combining an internal GPS platform with a compass to pinpoint the exact location of a user. A company then can tailor information to a user in real time for the purpose of providing an enhanced view of the surrounding area. By looking at an object or pointing a device at a particular area, the person can gain access to charts, graphics, statistics, video, and audio. For instance, if you had an AR app on your smartphone, you could point your device at a row of buildings and get presented with a row of floating hamburgers above every restaurant that offers them.

AR Is Marketing Gold

From a marketing standpoint, AR is a goldmine that every company should be using to win the attention of consumers. The technology creates an interactive experience, builds brand loyalty, and is fun to use.

Moreover, AR has found a home in just about every industry, such as music, entertainment, and education. For instance, Pepsi recently made headlines when it announced its AR marketing push on soda cans leading up to the 2015 Super Bowl. By scanning the side of certain Pepsi cans with a mobile device, fans can gain access to special footage and get a chance to win tickets to the Super Bowl.

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Eric Vidal is the director of product marketing for the event services business segment at InterCall, a conferencing and collaboration services provider. Reach him via

LinkedIn: Eric Vidal