Thursday, August 22, 2013

Creating great AR Mobile App Campaigns -Part 2 (the Ikea 2014 AR app)

I briefly discuss the IKEA 2013 catalogue app in my last post -well, guess what? The 2014 IKEA app is out.

Consumers can place the catalogue on the floor of a room in their home, point at the catalogue with their smartphone or tablet and see how a selected sofa, area rug or other item would look in that particular spot in the room if purchased.  A great try-before-you-buy solution which makes every user part smart shopper, part interior decorator.

Integrating AR into an app can be fun and engaging, with features like 3D model creation and animation.  At its core, AR is about visualizing the environment through a combination of real environment and digital content anchored to reality. 

This is exactly the experience offered by IKEA’s AR app.  However, aside from being cool to use (and being a preventative tool for any buyer’s remorse), what is it about the app that makes it so special?  Well, it’s not just the AR aspect of the app, it’s what IKEA has done around it.

AR is not magic.  It can only do so much.  It alone cannot get the word out about an app, cannot make an app come flying on its own into your home, cannot make users download an app, cannot make an app successful.  Although IKEA is not the first furniture company to use AR in an app, it is the first one to have successfully done so.  IKEA took existing, familiar technology to develop a new experience for consumers that didn’t need to be explained, dissected or examined—just promoted—and therein lies the difference.  IKEA threw some consumer marketing muscle behind the app through videos and outreach to major online consumer media outlets, thereby generating that coveted buzzword:  buzz.

Companies need to think of the bigger picture when developing an app, incorporating not only the tech aspects but the promotional side of things too. Many brands spend large chunks of time and money on developing the app itself, only to fail to plan how it will be launched and marketed to consumers.  If a company’s app only has 100 downloads, that’s not a stellar return on investment but rather a hefty sum thrown out the window, and it’s probably a safe bet that the next app-building budget will be slashed as a result. 
 Neither existing brand awareness nor a brand’s coolness factor will guarantee app downloads without the use of marketing punch, and AR apps are no exception.

So this is the beauty of the IKEA app—and the lesson to take away here.  For a successful app, create a useful app—one with a purpose—but also create a promotional and marketing budget in parallel that will support it, draw in users and encourage app downloads.  Also, ask how such an app will help users and if AR is really the best way to go about doing it.  AR is cool, but it cannot do the heavy lifting alone.