How Will Virtual & Augmented Reality Impact Local Marketing?

The digital and “real” worlds are blurring. This is manifest in now “mundane” activities such as in-store use of smartphones for price comparisons and product reviews. It’s also reflected in in-app payments for offline services (“local commerce”), for which Uber is the poster child.

Location analytics, which enable marketers to track aggregate movements of mobile consumers for audience segmentation and attribution, is another are where the physical and digital worlds are colliding. Yet another interesting example is Yext’s “Xone” beacon initiative, which enables marketers to retarget¬† offline visitors later on Facebook and Instagram.

We’ll be discussing many of those scenarios at LSA 16 next week. Somewhat more speculative than these existing examples, however, is the case of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). These are compelling technologies that have a range of uses that haven’t fully emerged. One technology brings us inside the internet or a virtual world, while the other brings digital objects into the physical world.

If you’ve tried Google Cardboard or Facebook’s Oculus you know how “cool” and potentially powerful these experiences can be. Virtual Reality and 360 video are all but certain to have a profound impact on gaming and entertainment. But they will likely impact travel and hospitality, education, adult and probably advertising and local shopping and commerce.

We may see entirely new e-commerce experiences in virtual worlds — new shopping environments that provide a nearly tactile experience of the product or service being offered. By contrast, Augmented Reality already has a range of apps, including “local” applications. For example, there are a number of home decorating apps that enable people to see how rooms in their home would look, through the smartphone camera/screen, with different paint colors, furniture and so on.

Existing and affordable hardware all but guarantees that these technologies will ultimately take off. Google’s early Glass project failed because it was awkward as a fashion item, offered limited utility and was way too expensive for the mass market. VR goggles and AR headsets have great potential to be mass market products.

The question then turns to content creation. VR and AR will be new platforms for developers. The extent to which these technologies move beyond gaming or highly specific applications will depend on developers adoption and content creation, which in turn depends on business models.

As part of the new technologies sessions at LSA 16 we’re going to explore the local and retail shopping implications of VR and AR. How far off are they? What segments are they likely to impact? Aisle411 and Retale will present and demo apps, discussing why these technologies are important and how they may impact local marketing.

Virtual & Augmented Reality: The Local Angle
With affordable consumer hardware the era of Virtual Reality has arrived. Microsoft, Magic Leap and others are also developing Augmented Reality experiences. How will these complementary but different technologies play out? Our panelists offer demos and provocative insights into VR + AR and how they could broadly affect local marketing.

Christine Cline
VP, Marketing

Nathan Pettyjohn

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