We saw a glimpse of the immersive power of Augmented Reality (AR) from the Pokémon Go craze. Brands are now sitting up and finding ways to integrate AR into their marketing strategies.

They have very good reasons to do so. When applied to advertising, research shows the best AR campaigns increase dwell time by more than 85 seconds, interaction rates by up to 20%, and click-through rates of 33%. Beyond engagement, some brands are cleverly leveraging AR to drive tangible business outcomes.

Brands leverage AR to produce tangible outcomes

Sephora is using AR to enable potential customers to virtually try on their cosmetics through an app using facial-mapping technology. This allows them to make purchasing decisions without having to be physically present at the store. People can even share their virtual looks with friends, helping Sephora reach more new customers.

Ikea has also integrated AR into its app to enable users to visualise how furniture will look in their own homes, helping them make purchasing decisions quickly and efficiently.

In the food sector, Magnum uses AR to enable consumers to personalise their Magnum ice cream with a tap of a button while using their camera. Their creation can then be redeemed at the Magnum Pleasure Store at the mall, thus driving both brand engagement and sales.

However, brands do not have to enter into the AR space on their own. They can ride on the technical and audience expertise of publishers that are experimenting with AR themselves.

Publishers use AR to augment print content, drive ROI for ads

In its September 2017 issue, W magazine’s cover girl, Katy Perry, came alive with a video message for readers who pointed their AR-activated smartphones at the cover. Additionally, people could tap and interact with each of her facial features to unlock new content.

Beyond augmenting content, publishers leverage the technology to drive sales for their brand partners. For example, department store Macy’s partnered with Cosmopolitan magazine to produce an eight-page beauty section powered with AR technology. Similar to Sephora’s strategy, readers can virtually try on beauty looks curated by Cosmo’s editors. They can then purchase these products directly from the page, thereby linking AR with e-commerce.

SPH Magazines introduces Moomoko

SPH Magazines recently launched the first AR character to be created by a local magazine. Nuyou, the leading Chinese-language magazine targeted at modern career women conversant in both English and Chinese languages, unveiled Moomoko, a vivacious, smart, and affable virtual character who is both a beauty junkie and well-travelled fashionista.

Moomoko is rapidly gaining interest amongst our advertisers and brand owners keen to engage our readers in new and novel ways. For example, Shiseido opted to use Moomoko to introduce its cosmetic products. In the video below, Moomoko is seen interacting with the deputy editor while trying out a lipstick shade and eye pencil.

The team is thrilled with the new ways in which AR is opening up to deliver immersive experiences that deepen audience engagement — with not just our stories but also our brand partners’.