What Does AR Mean for Marketing?

augmented reality
8th February 2022

Last week the online clothing retailer, Pretty Little Thing, introduced its very first AR model hoping to bridge the gap between the metaverse and reality. The “virtual girl” that’s yet to be named took social media by surprise, leaving many concerned and confused which raised the question: are we ready for the metaverse and how far are we from it?

What Is AR?

AR is an abbreviation for augmented reality (virtual presence in the real world). Unlike VR, it can be accessed from anywhere such as a smartphone device whereas virtual reality is limited to a VR headset.

Surprisingly it’s not a new concept either. AR models have been around for some time and have been living amongst us on social media for the past decade. Virtual character profiles have been floating around on Instagram, only now with the tools that we have available to create content, they are able to be used in moving video. This has made them so realistic that some have been completely oblivious. Some of the more popular virtual influencers that you may have heard of go by the names of “Lil Miquela” that has a following of 3.1 million, “Knox Frost” and “Imma”.

Brands Making Use of AR

Before PLT, luxury brands such as Balmain also had a go at creating their own AR models to attract gen-z shoppers. With concerns about its ethics, it’s unsure how far this trend will go. Some argue that this is a step too far as we’ve already seen the damage of photoshopping while others argue the positive that AR models are incomparable to humans.

How Does This Affect Marketing?

If you’re a brand trying to break the mould and bypass the “monotonous feeds” of social media as the founders of an avatar technology company call them, AR models can help. They share that new and emerging tools can help to create more personalised ways to engage with customers which can be difficult on such saturated platforms. They’re also an interesting option for those trying to connect with the technologically savvy and gen-z’s.

What Is the Metaverse and When Is It Coming?

The metaverse is a term that was coined by sci-fi writer Neal Stephenson in 1992 to describe a virtual 3D space. In the 30-year gap, a lot of change has happened with the emergence of cryptocurrencies, AR, and VR. In 2021 Mark Zuckerberg introduced “Meta” which aims to remake the internet and create a virtual world where its users can socialize, play, and work. This would create a more immersive Facebook where creators can create their own worlds and experience a new level of gaming.

The metaverse still has some way to go with developments underway and more businesses needed to fill the space. At the moment its unknown what opportunities lie ahead but the future certainly sounds exciting.


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