How Augmented Reality Will Change Mobile Marketing and Recruiting

I’ve written a lot about the future of marketing and recruiting, from gamification to short-form videos. But there’s one development that I think will truly revolutionize communication: augmented reality.

Many mobile devices now have apps, made by various third parties, that “augment” reality by superimposing images, animations, or data on top of a “normal” view. For example, Yelp has an app, Yelp Monocle, that uses your phone’s GPS to display ratings and reviews over any restaurant you point it at. It looks like this:

So instead of looking at an overhead view of a map, you see information that matches your actual line of sight. And since you’re holding your phone directly in front of you, you’re less likely to bump into people!

Augmented reality completely changes your interaction with your mobile device. 

Right now, most companies are only using for it special events and promotions — Christmas being the biggest one. Recently, Chanel, Bratz, and Macy’s offered augmented reality experiences for the holidays. In 2012, DreamWorks created posters for their animated film Rise of the Guardians that included an augmented reality element: people used their mobile device to scan a poster that featured one of film’s characters, which then became animated on their screen.

For several years, Starbucks has offered a free app called Cup Magic. When customers pointed their phones at their coffee cups, the characters on the cups came to life and acted out short holiday scenes like sledding and ice skating. There were five different character cups, so customers had to return multiple times to get the full experience.

Starbucks brilliantly added a social element to the app; customers could easily share the animations through Facebook or email. That spread the word of the experience even better than traditional advertising, since Starbucks was letting its customers do the marketing. Even smarter is that the animations have no dialogue, so they transcend age, gender, and even language.

Based on their success at Christmas, Starbucks brought Cup Magic to Valentine’s Day. These promotional cups feature a heart instead of characters; using the app to view the heart launches a short video of heart-shaped flower petals flying off the cup. As before, you can then send the video via Facebook or email. Starbucks calls this campaign “Celebrating Everylove,” which they stress is “not just the romantic kind.” And they’ve upped the urgency, since Valentine’s Day “season” is much shorter than Christmas.

Just to be clear: Virtually every one of these augmented reality apps is free. They don’t require a code or a password. Companies want to make it as easy as possible to get the enhanced experience and to be able to show it to their friends.

You can see how this could apply to recruiting. Imagine pointing a Monocle-type app at a building and seeing which companies are hiring. Or which companies are rated “best workplaces.” Or which companies will be at the next career fair.

What about Google Glass, you ask? While incredibly cool, that device isn’t made for augmented reality; instead of overlaying information on top of your normal view, Glass’ images are confined to a tiny screen in the corner of your vision. Still, some companies are trying workarounds


Now that you know what augmented reality is and how exciting it can be, how will you use it in your branding, marketing, or recruiting campaigns? Brandemix can help. Contact me and we’ll discuss all the possibilities.

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