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Embracing authenticity: Augmented Reality vs Faux Out-of-home

Coca-Cola tells us, “there’s always the real thing” and it’s good advice. In a world of faux out of home (FOOH) it’s good to remember that there is an alternative that harnesses CGI, offers cost-efficient setup, allows for widespread activation and social sharing, and delivers genuine interactivity to every user – Augmented Reality (AR).


It is essential to acknowledge the appeal of faux out of home CGI such as the giant Barbie doll standing nearly as tall as the Burj Khalifa and Maybelline adding eyelashes to Tube carriages and London buses. These are videos that went viral and online audiences clearly enjoyed watching. Digiday described Maybelline’s lash stunt and FOOH as “a limitless way to reach the customer”. But is it really? And could there be a more effective way of reaching the customer?


While the application of CGI technology is undeniably impressive and these campaigns gain traction in the media, it’s important to recognise that a significant portion of the audience engaging with these promotions consists of industry professionals. Whilst that garners short term attention, the desired impact on the average consumer could be improved. 


Through AR, the same or better “mixed reality” experiences can be created just as quickly and cost effectively.  Not only can they go viral as 2D social clips, but thousands of people can see them first hand in location and share their own experiences with their friends, often with themselves in the frame. Also the AR experiences can be 3D, immersive, interactive and drive direct results for the brand.


Despite the social interaction being impressive for FOOH, using authentic augmented reality can also create a 200% increased engagement compared to non-AR equivalent, with the same study also proving that the more time consumers spend on product-led immersive experiences, the more likely they are to buy.


Additionally, the attention for FOOH is short-lived and it’s difficult to measure whether or not it actually converts. AR is different. According to Shopify, “products advertised with VR/AR content saw a 94% higher conversion rate than products without that content”, meaning that AR is proven to improve a company’s bottom line.


FOOH campaigns may inadvertently foster a sense of deception, eroding brand trust and being perceived as misleading, creating something of a back-lash (Maybelline pun intended!). With user-generated content at the forefront of marketing strategies for many make-up brands, authenticity is clearly high on the agenda of these forward thinking brands, making AR a much more brand-safe option.


In the contemporary digital landscape, prioritising customer engagement, genuine interaction, and brand immersion is paramount. Augmented Reality, unlike mere content sharing, offers an opportunity to involve the audience actively. With AR, the capacity exists to replicate virtually any CGI piece, not just on a single location but across the globe. Moreover, AR activations have been shown to boost brand recall by a whopping 70% and enhance emotional connections by nearly 50%, making them indispensable elements of any campaign.


The question now arises: should Faux Out-of-Home advertising be scrapped? Well, no, there is appeal and it does get brands talked about. However, it is imperative for the broader advertising industry to be reminded that its focus should be to prioritise customer impact, ROI, genuine engagement and ensuring regulatory requirements are met . Permission based Augmented Reality advertising is the most compelling solution to meet these goals. Let’s stop focusing on vanity metrics and get the industry back on track with what’s important: authentic and meaningful innovative content that delivers real goals and targets.


Interested in finding out more about how AR can support your marketing goals and objectives? Get in touch with our team to find out more.