Pokémon Go: What Brands Can Learn from the AR Craze

Pokémon Go: What Brands Can Learn from the AR CrazeA recent article in PR Week caught my attention. Not only because it was written by a possible relative of mine (Seriously, Sean Czarnecki, are we super distant cousins?), but because it presented an interesting retrospective of how smart brands respond when new tactics come to light and what public relations professionals can learn from them moving forward.

If you survived the past year without hearing about Pokémon Go, that in itself is an outstanding accomplishment. The game that combined the power of 90s kid nostalgia with new technology available through your smartphone took the marketing and social media world by storm after its release in summer 2016. Its staggering user adoption (drawing in nearly 29 million daily active users at its prime) created a ripple of conversation as brands and marketers alike tried to figure out how this new form of experience that merged the digital and real worlds could be leveraged.

As PR professionals, we are constantly on the hunt for ways to authentically engage with our clients’ audiences where they already are. For many, this example of AR seemed to be the perfect formula for doing just that. But could the return on investment be justified to create a similar tool using technology that was time-consuming and costly to produce? In this case, the market also identified the potential within AR technology that brands and marketers saw and stepped in to solve that problem.

After the launch of Pokémon Go, Facebook created a platform for users to build AR image filters that complemented their Camera Effects platform. Just last month, Apple debuted an AR developer platform for iOS dubbed the “ARkit.” While the option of “making Pokémon Go in a weekend in your bedroom” might still be out of reach for many, the democratization of this technology provides new and exciting access for brands and marketers.

So how have brands capitalized on merging the real and digital worlds to engage with and benefit their audiences so far?

Ikea is using the new ARkit to help customers see how that Sklerg they’ve had their eye on will actually look with the rest of their furniture in real time, and media agencies have regularly helped users tell their friends how excited they are for tonight’s showing of “Insert Move Title Here” with custom Snapchat filters.

Some things for PR professionals to consider: Overall, the AR market is expected to reach $117.4 billion by 2022. Tech companies and marketers alike see AR’s potential to bring brands seamlessly into the lives of their customers, meeting them where they already are in new and engaging ways; a challenge we seek to overcome daily. As the potential of integrating AR into a client’s toolkit becomes more readily available, what steps will our client teams take to ensure these choices are still driven by strategy? What systems are these democratized platforms making available to demonstrate ROI?

At NST, we approach every day with the vision of #redefiningPR. AR isn’t the first and most certainly won’t be the last new frontier to shake up the way we can engage our audiences. So if you’re a current or potential client interested in AR, let’s start talking!