Augmented Reality: Rich User Experience Examples in Marketing

I must admit, it was only around 4 months ago that i first came across augmented reality when reading about the Vuzix AR goggles/glasses, but apparently it’s a fairly well defined field already. It’s definitely an interesting concept for marketers – there has never been such a rich connection between the digital world and the real world, and augmented reality is already opening up new ways for companies to deliver super-rich experiences to their customers. It’s hard to imagine people wearing Vuzix goggles down the street anytime soon, but the possibilities offered by video camera enabled smart phones, or the webcam on your home computer, are already being explored (the Nokia N95 seems to be the preferred device in these campaigns so far). Here’s a few examples of marketing campaigns I’ve come across while boning up on AR:


A simple way to drive traffic to a website, the Mini example uses AR at perhaps it’s most basic – simply laying a 3d model of a Mini over a piece of paper users print from their computer or pull out of a print publication. If you want to try this at home, go to http://www.mini.de/de/de/webcam/index.jsp – the instructions are in (I think) Dutch, so good luck. (thx to Shane Morris for showing me this one)


Augmented reality seems to have really taken off in Europe more than anywhere else so far. Ford Europe stepped things up considerably in comparison to Mini with their Go Find It campaign. As part of this campaign, QR Codes were planted around various European locations, the idea being to drive people out onto the streets to discover new street art and while they are at it, check out a 3d model of the Ford Ka using their mobile phones. Street art has been hot for more than a minute now with Gen Y’ers, who are the Ford Ka’s target market, so this is a pretty interesting way to reach their potential customers. Integration with print ads, a ‘Where’s Wally” style TVC (watch it in hi-def and see if you can spot 80 Ford Ka’s), social media outreach and a dedicated micro-site makes Ford’s campaign stand head and shoulders above Mini.



Lego are apparently rolling the above augmented reality ‘Digital Box’ out in retail locations. I’m not really sure what value this ads to the product, but knowing the number of geeky adult males who still play with Lego who will also find this AR kiosk amazing, this should help increase Lego’s cult status with the geeks.


Not sure why Lastminute.com chose Richard the homeless-looking dude to be their model for this video, but their mobile phone application, NRU (pronounced ‘Near you’) is probably one of the most promising ways of using augmented reality. AT the moment it’s not, strictly speaking, augmented reality… the really interesting developments with services like these will come when they start laying mapping / GPS data over the top of real world images being captured through the camera’s video camera, rather than just a black and white grid. AR and mapping will be big.



Awesome video from Demo ‘07. Yeh thats right, 07.


  • GE are reportedly planning on using AR in their upcoming campaign to be launched during superbowl (super slick website is at http://PlugIntoTheSmartGrid.com)
  • BBC used it to launch their new series ‘Merlin’ in late 2008
  • Fanta used it for a “Virtual Tennis” app, that seemed a bit slow to be much fun, but shows a bit more imagination than some of the examples above.
  • Games – there’s a whole new breed of video game, particularly on mobiles / the N95, utilising AR technologies.

Of the above, the Ford campaign has shown the best integration into an overall campaign, and to mind represents the best example of use in marketing thus far (although the lastminute.com app will be awesome if they can layer the data over maps). However, they all still feel like we’re only scratching the surface – the mind boggles at how augmented reality can be used moving forward. I’m thinking there won’t be many 3d modelers / animators without augmented reality enabled business cards within 12 months. Product support just became easier too (example). And think about the retail possibilities. AR will definitely be a growth area in 2009-10 – just wait ‘til it hits the iPhone in earnest.


7 Responses to “Augmented Reality: Rich User Experience Examples in Marketing”

  1. 1 marketingisadirtyword
    February 2, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    Apologies must go out to “Richard the Homeless looking dude” (http://twitter.com/mo0g) that I mentioned above when talking about the super-cool NRU app. I honestly did not mean any offense, but you do appear to be watching the world pass by on a street corner whilst someone is going through the trash in the background. No offense meant 😉

  2. February 7, 2009 at 12:42 am

    Check out http://www.c3picasso.com too. You can interact (albeit only a little – ie : change the color) with the model on the paper by pointing your finger on the printed page !

  3. February 27, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Hi Nick!

    Great blog post on the various AR applications available! fyi, there is an AR iPhone App already availble: Virtual Santa – see: http://www.metaio.com/iPhone. Other Apps from metaio are on their way.

    Another fyi as I read you are at Microsoft, metaio’s AR has actually already been ported to Windows Mobile and a first project has been done with it.

    As you can notice, I am from metaio 😉

    If you want to see/hear more, just shoot me an Email, I’d love to connect!


    P.S. the MINI website is in German

    • 4 marketingisadirtyword
      February 27, 2009 at 11:16 am

      Hi Noora,
      That Virtual Santa App is pretty fun! Does Metaio have a regular newsletter or blog that people can follow to keep up with what you guys are doing? From what I can see, you’re one of the leading companies in AR at the moment, so it’ll be interesting to see whats in the pipeline.

  4. February 27, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    Thanks for your response Nick!

    People can leave a message on: http://www.metaio.com/contact/ with the request to be added to our newsletter.

    A blog that is at its starting position is: http://www.metaioblog.wordpress.com – gives information on new metaio projects. Following post will most likely contain new Mobile AR Apps…

    An overall blog of one of my colleagues in Germany: http://www.augmentedblog.wordpress.com –> blogs about various Augmented Reality related projects

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