There’s growing sentiment in the mobile AR world that apps aren’t the optimal vessel. Yet the technology lives on a device where apps rule. 90 percent of mobile users’ time is spent in apps versus the browser. Can AR break that cycle? And if so, could web AR be the answer?
What is web AR? In short, it delivers AR experiences through the mobile browser. Advantages include dynamism for AR’s serendipity and short sessions, versus the friction of app stores and downloads. There, “activation energy” dampens already-challenged AR adoption.
For example, will consumers spend 90 seconds downloading an app for an experience that lasts 30 seconds? Consider this in light of dynamic AR activations within a store aisle or real-world social interaction. These scenarios happen fast and need AR formats that can be the same.
In these moments of dynamic activation, AR formats that can launch with minimal friction and maximum compatibility will gain the most traction. These factors will also grow in importance as brands and retailers increasingly plant AR activation markers on products and spaces.
But how will web AR reach that potential? What are best practices for web AR experiences and marketing campaigns? And who’s doing it right so far? Our research arm ARtillery Intelligence tackled these questions in its recent report, which we’ve excerpted below.
Web AR Dynamics
Picking up where we left off last week in examining web AR, we classify its advantages into three main categories: dynamic activation, dynamic updates, and dynamic analytics. Each of these differentiate web AR from app-based AR. Let’s take them one at a time…
Starting with activation, one of AR’s opportunities is serendipitous encounters. These include launching an AR animation in a store aisle, or a shared AR lens with a friend in a public space. AR activation prompts could start to populate these and other locales.
These prompts could be physical markers or other spatially-anchored AR experiences. And the magic of discovering and activating these creations is only present when they can be launched quickly. Web AR offers just that, as the base ingredient is ubiquitous cameras and browsers.
Now consider an app workflow instead: If a user doesn’t have the necessary app, the experience can’t be launched until she is first bounced to the app store, waits for the download, then is questionably landed back in the right place once the download is complete.
All this friction goes against a fundamental success factor for AR (and all emerging tech): it’s too early and unproven to make users work for it or wait for it. AR should be laid directly in users’ paths or infused with the things they already do. An example is social AR lenses.
Furthermore, if we go back to the point about physical markers, web AR is compatible with universal QR codes. These are easy to create and integrate with existing media such as product packaging or signage. These are things that brands already own and are great vehicles for AR.
Updates & Analytics
The next AR advantage is dynamic updates. Because experiences are delivered through the good-old web, you can prototype and deploy software rapidly. Apps conversely involve a process of approvals and clustering static software versions in separate intervals.
This is what we like to call the “headache factor,” and web AR scores favorably on that metric. Web AR’s update dynamism can also be valuable in early versions of any AR experience when rapid iteration is the name of the game. Updates become less frequent in later stages.
One example of this principle is Ally Bank’s Monopoly-themed web AR campaign. As the location-based AR game experience played out, its creators were able to send rapid updates as they discovered things that needed to be fixed, such as vulnerabilities for location fraud.
Moving on to the third web AR advantage, it’s all about dynamic analytics. This is a web AR advantage that’s less discussed but it’s potentially the most valuable of the lot. Because, again, web AR is delivered through the good-old web, you can utilize web-based analytics tools.
For example, you can run your campaign through Google Analytics with tracking links, and get other metrics such as session lengths. This can not only help attribute effectiveness and ROI, but provide insights to course correct and optimize AR experiences and campaigns.
Compare this advantage to native apps, where analytics are lacking because developers are at the mercy of what the platform wants to give them. The granularity in performance tracking and analytics varies across AR platforms, but is relatively limited in most app-based AR.