Velux, an international manufacturer of roof windows and skylights (and the title sponsor of one of the world's coolest sailing races), recently launched this augmented reality-based print campaign. Although it is not a 2D barcode campaign, I felt obliged to comment, because I thought a lot can be learned.
At first glance, the code in the lower left-hand corner of the advertisement seems to resemble a highly simplified QR Code but, when you read the copy under the code (Use this augmented reality code at dramaheights.com), you learn that this is an augmented reality-based campaign. As if it's not bad enough to find a 2D barcode-based campaign with little or no explanation or detailed instructions surrounding the code, here is one of the first/few augmented reality campaigns on the market and there is virtually no explanation or detailed instructions surrounding the augmented reality code. Does the company really believe consumers beyond early adopters are going to get it without any explanation or instruction? I'm not so sure that they will, but let's press on.
Not knowing how best to access the dramaheights.com website, I first used my mobile phone, and got no where fast. I then tried my laptop and was able to get to the website quick enough. Once on the home page, I found three buttons on the left to click on (About, Gossip and Vote on the Ending) and, in the center of the page, there is an image of three houses in a neighborhood setting. When one of the homes is clicked on, a new button appears on the right margin which reads "Augmented Reality Prelude." When the "ARP" button is clicked, instructions appear in a pop-up window explaining how to make use of the augmented reality code in the print ad. Wow!! After several minutes (read that again, several minutes) between first seeing the advertisement and working through it to this point, I am able to discern that 1) a story is being told, 2) there are about 4-5 video episodes to view, 3) I can view the story in 3D via augmented reality and 4) I can vote for the outcome of the story, but I have yet to learn anything about the company's products/services or offering. At this point, there is a question to ask: Do I care to go any further? Answer: No, not really. I just want to leave this ad as far behind as I can.
I'm sorry, you may have the where with all to go through the entire website and see where it all leads, but I simply don't. While it's one thing for a company to want to interact and engage with their audience via augmented reality, or even 2D technology, it's quite another for the audience to have to go to so much trouble and still be uncertain as to knowing about the company, its products and its offering.
So, where does this leave us? Simple. It leaves us at a point where advertisers, and their agencies, need to realize and understand that crafting a unique, compelling and relevant message and/or experience is one thing, but to expect so very much from the consumer (i.e., jump through hoops) is quite another. We can drill this down even further by having the marketer/creative ask one simple question, would I, as a consumer, want to go through a process like this just to learn about a product/service or offer? And, aside from all of that, another question to ask is, how and will a campaign like this pay for itself, let alone other marketing/business related expenses? I believe the last question sticks with me the most in the sense that a marketing executive green-lighted this campaign and they probably still have a job.
In regard to augmented reality, my belief is much the same as with 2D technology. It serves a purpose, is not the end all and be all, is right for certain applications and is just one more tool in a marketer's kit. So with this post I am not trying to bash augmented reality, I'm just trying to showcase a company that wants to make use of the technology but, from a strategic and tactical marketing perspective, could have done a great many things to provide a much more effective customer experience and interaction.
If anyone is willing to share any information about this campaign (i.e., cost, success rate, creative strategy, etc.) please do so. Based on the Velux website, it appears as though the campaign is slated to run through July.