If you had to make a list of the modern day trends that both businesses and consumers alike are keeping an eye on, augmented reality (AR) would undoubtedly be right at the top. Defined simply as a technology that superimposes computer-generated visuals onto someone’s view of the real world, AR has gone through a particularly interesting explosion in popularity over the last few years in particular.
People no longer see AR as a novelty — a game to be played when you’re trying to kill a few hours on a rainy afternoon. Supplementing our lives with digital information is something that we usually do all day anyway with our smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices — this is just another way to push that concept even further.
But as is true with most tech-driven trends of a personal nature, the conversation has quickly turned to one of marketing. Namely, AR’s popularity has people asking not only whether or not it will change the face of content marketing as we know it, but also if it will essentially replace every content marketing technique we’ve relied on heavily up to this point.
However, the answers to those questions aren’t nearly as straightforward as people may believe.
Just in case you were still under the impression that augmented reality was a fad that would soon be forgotten, it’s important to let a number of recent statistics shed some light on that particular point of view.
According to one recent study, there are expected to be more than one billion augmented reality users by as soon as 2020. In fact, right now, there are more than 500 different startups all working on advancements in this field.
The total worldwide augmented reality market is expected to be valued at about $61.39 billion by as soon as 2023. To put that into perspective, the market was valued at just $2.39 billion at the end of 2016.
But most importantly, AR isn’t just something that has brands seeing dollar signs — users love it, too. In fact, approximately 60% to 70% of consumers who responded to a survey said that they see very clear benefits of using AR (along with general Internet of Things devices) in their daily lives. 62% said that they saw shopping benefits, as well.
Not only is augmented reality naturally powerful as a concept, but it’s also one that has very clear ramifications in terms of… well, just about every single aspect of our lives, all day, every day.
One of the major benefits of augmented reality as a concept has to do with just how malleable it really is. Yes, the technology itself is incredibly specific — but the total number of possible uses for it is practically limitless.
According to another study, the top three uses for augmented reality moving forward are predicted to fall into the categories of gaming (of course), ecommerce and marketing.
On the gaming side of the equation, new high-end augmented reality games won’t just be responsible for an AR explosion in the United States — they’ll also single-handedly propel the gaming market up to a value of $11.6 billion by 2025.
Most major gaming consoles, like Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro, already have AR features built in. Even the iPhone 8 and iPhone X shipped with augmented reality-centric features, pointing to one trend that isn’t going to slow down anytime soon.
In terms of ecommerce and marketing, this is where things get really interesting. Companies are expected to use AR to improve user satisfaction with incredible life-like shopping experiences that offer augmented inventory visuals.
Remember that scene in the classic film “Fight Club” where the main character (played by Edward Norton) walks around his empty apartment, which slowly populates itself with various items from an Ikea catalog including price, technical specifications and more? This is just one small example of the type of thing that people can do in real life with augmented reality in the not-too-distant future.
Sure, people will see those items in their homes by way of a smartphone or other mobile device — but the immersive benefits remain.
However, one of the most important things for you to remember about “the next big thing” in terms of content marketing is that there will always be a “next big thing” lurking just on the horizon. Today, it happens to be AR — something that seems to gain more traction with each passing day.
But when you remove the technology itself, what does this particular trend tell you about the future of content marketing in general? AR is highly personal. It’s immersive. It’s captivating in a way that people naturally gravitate towards, and it can be heavily customized as a medium to meet your needs, regardless of how those needs happen to change.
Who says you can’t do that with a blog post? Or an Infographic that you’ve created with a tool like Visme (which in transparency founded)? Or a presentation? Or a video that you’ve uploaded to a service like Uscreen?
Nobody, that’s who.
Because in truth, the “next big thing” will never be the true silver bullet most seem to be looking for. The one sure-fire, guaranteed way to penetrate an audience in a way that they won’t soon be able to forget.
Because true content marketing success doesn’t rely on a single technique. It depends on your utilization of many, all working together to form something much larger and more important than any one of them could on their own.
That is the true future of content marketing, even going beyond how naturally impressive augmented reality can be. As is true with most things, this is just another tool for you to add to your toolbox — and rest assured that this is absolutely the way it should be.
About the author: Payman Taei is the founder of Visme, an easy-to-use online tool to create engaging presentations, infographics, and other forms of visual content.