One of the most exciting new developments in augmented reality last year has been the growth of WebAR. WebAR refers to augmented reality that can be accessed from a web browser, enabling a much more seamless user journey from scan to experience. The technology has gained significant traction already with awesome new campaigns popping up in mainstream contexts. However, WebAR is still in the early stages. We’ve only scratched the surface of what is possible when WebAR is applied creatively. Widespread adoption as a powerful business tool is yet to happen.
In 2020, that could change thanks to three powerful shifts already moving businesses in WebAR’s direction.
1. Increased Awareness of WebAR’s Benefits
The more use cases demonstrating how brands can successfully leverage the technology, the more businesses can see WebAR’s clear benefits. Compared to traditional AR campaigns with native apps or social media platforms, for example, WebAR offers unmatched reach and scale. The distribution opportunity alone should be enough to turn brands’ heads as they look to free themselves from apps and platforms and imagine more seamless executions across the mobile web.
One brand leading the charge of executing WebAR campaigns is Coca-Cola. As part of its #Refreshwherevs campaign customers could scan a QR code on the packaging to launch a branded WebAR page and then take a selfie with a range of branded face filters that unlock over time. Without needing to download an app, customers could simply enjoy the in-the-moment experience thanks to WebAR. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, is that WebAR also allows brands and businesses to get a valuable treasure trove of data at two key moments of assistance – pre and post-purchase.
2. 5G 5g Is Going to Empower Bigger Ideas
Pretty much every industry is going to feel the ripple effects of 5G. And the world of AR is no different. In fact, Verizon is already preparing for 5G’s impact on AR by pre-installing Snapchat on select 5G phones. One major advantage of 5G is its ability to unchain AR from reliance on a strong WiFi connection. Large scale experiences like sporting events and outdoor festivals struggle the most with maintaining a strong WiFi connection throughout. As a result, the kinds of AR campaigns possible in such settings have had limited potential.
In theory, 5G would lift these limitations and make way for bigger, more powerful AR campaigns to be engaged with. Instead of hundreds of event attendees struggling to download an app to each of their phones, they only need to go to a WebAR page to engage with the experience.
3. The Democratization of AR Tools
Accessibility is one of the biggest perceived barriers to entry for businesses exploring AR. Small businesses, in particular, are turned off at the thought of budgeting and developing for a native app from the ground up. That said, today’s AR platforms offer feature-rich, intuitive tools. They also offer custom solutions such as branded WebAR splash pages, variable triggers via web links, QR and branded codes. Many of these platforms have integrated tracking tools that help paint a clearer picture of engagement, on top of general web analytics tools.
Better yet, the ability to instantly publish WebAR pages makes streamlining deployment even easier. This can come in handy for tracking engagement with campaigns around branded events, such as Puma did during the grand opening of their flagship New York City store. Customers could interact with Puma’s web app by scanning QR codes found on shoe tags and throughout the store. This granted them access to an AR experience while turning around real-time engagement data to Puma’s team.
Though WebAR is gaining recognition, native AR apps will still be important in 2020. They provide a different kind of value in the right context, like retail rewards programs and learning and development applications. The point is that AR is becoming more accessible and readily available. The need for more flexibility and easier access to the technology is what is going to push businesses in the direction of WebAR. And with more exploration and real-world use, AR’s overall visibility and applications will only increase – a self-perpetuating cycle set to accelerate in 2020.Guest Post
About the Guest Author(s)
Caspar Thykier is CEO and co-founder of Zappar, a leading global developer of augmented reality experiences and creative tools. He is on a mission to democratize augmented reality and get the technology into the hands of as many as possible: brands, the next generation of digital creators and consumers.