Augmented reality and the future of local advertising
The search marketing industry was buzzing about the potential for local advertising demonstrated by Pokémon Go’s initial runaway success – but what will be the effect of augmented reality on marketing?
It’s been a long week, you’ve been for a few drinks and now, as you totter from the bar, a Google Maps powered overlay begins to guide you to the nearest taxi rank. Your smart watch or fitbit, however, disapproves – it knows how long it’s been since you last ate, how dehydrated you are and it knows how tomorrow’s performance will be impacted by the evening’s drinking.
Your view begins to populate with signposts to your favourite eating establishments, an advisory note pops up in the corner of your field of vision, or is spoken to you by the voice of your celebrity fitness guru, it reminds you of the health and productivity costs of going straight home without eating and drinking. In another corner, your bank or credit card assures you that a kebab is within your weekly budget.
It’s a little science fiction, but not as far removed as you might think – in fact, the way in which Google has begun to reorganise local search results and has increased the available advertising options and rankings weightings for local suggests that it is already well on the way to preparing for it.
While the possibilities open to augmented reality (AR) advertising are currently restricted to the mobile screen, this is mainly because we remain firmly in the infancy of visual wearables and because of the current lack of connectivity of various wearables. As the internet of things (IOT) begins to develop, however, insurance companies are likely to extend premium discounts from dash-cams and apps for car insurance to fitbits for life insurance. Consequently, it cannot be long before early adopters are followed into the wearables market by consumers seeking a saving on various insurances; or look for other benefits to lifestyle options (think of Microsoft’s descriptive or translation abilities as shown by James Murray at this year’s Benchmark Search Conference).
As Wired pointed out, Google has already invested heavily in ‘mixed-reality’ pioneers Magic Leap, while Google X is reportedly still working on a high-end competitor to Oculus Rift. Combined with the overwhelming initial success of Niantic’s Pokémon Go and the inferable consumer readiness for AR, it seems only a matter of time before AR becomes a major concern for marketers.
So, what can brands do to prepare for the coming of this new technology? The simple answer is that even the largest brands will need to begin developing sound and dynamic local strategies as search marketing becomes increasingly geo-targeted and personalised (a trend easily visible even without considering AR). Quite simply, it will not be enough to wait for this to happen, brands need to ensure that their local strategies are already well advanced by the time such a change comes.
This means that, while the importance of keyword rankings and SERPs positions is unlikely to diminish in the near future, there will be increasing emphasis placed on local search, local links, citations and reviews, meaning that the nature of campaign outreach may need to be adapted to include more local bloggers in areas targeted for growth, that geo-targeting will take on a new level of importance in the quest for personalisation and data-driven search marketing and that the largest brands may well be increasingly within the reach of global giants when it comes to market share – at least on an area by area basis.
All in all, as the world of marketing is about to become much larger and yet more focused, search marketing strategies will require detailed planning by area as much as by demographic, and therefore it is imperative that this begins immediately, that signals from the industry are monitored and followed, and everything possible is done to avoid a surprise later down the line.
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