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Augmented Reality?: Cool Technology Doesn’t Guarantee Conversions


I was recently on Facebook and my eye was caught by an ad for a new TNT show starring Jason Lee. Yes, they had me at Jason Lee, but what kept me reading was the augmented reality graphic in the bottom corner. The copy above it read “Get an exclusive look using your SmartPhone.” And then directed me to scan the graphic with an app called Wimo. My curiosity (and general geekiness) led me to download the free app and try it out. After scanning it with Wimo, a trailer popped up on my iPhone for Mr. Lee’s new show.

Cool, yes. But the ad that originally started me down the augmented path also featured an embedded video of that trailer. So what was the point? And that led me to ponder… Does cool technology like augmented reality get more customers in the online door? Or is it proving to be a one-off gimmick that doesn’t hold interest?

TNT isn’t the first to use AR. Companies like Benetton have used it to generate global interaction. Magazines like Lucky and Esquire are using it to encourage delving further into the content. You can find scanning apps that let you check prices in-store and try on clothes virtually. And Yelp has an AR app that displays ratings and reviews for restaurants—before you go in.


There’s no doubt that AR is cool. And it can suit a wide variety of applications—from shopping to military maintenance. I wonder if it  really has a place in online marketing, though. Sure, the first time you try it, you get a little thrill. But how many times will a person come back for an AR experience? And will it close the sale? I think I’ll hold final judgment and wait for a brilliant AR online marketing campaign. Until then, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts.