Beacons have become the new black of 2015 — highly desired by retailers to enhance the customer experience.

Well, another technology, Augmented Reality (AR). is also gaining traction, although it’s more of an oldie that has come back in style.

Augmented Reality introduces new dynamics for strategy and analytics. Specifically, it offers opportunities for new customer experiences, and for new ideas in analytics measurement tactics that can make those strategies more valuable.

Sensory Data

Augmented reality is an environment in which elements are supplemented by computer-based sensory input. That input can take many forms such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. The purpose is to let the user experience a view of how a real world item may look in a given situation.

Experts have discussed the various possibilities for augmented reality for years. The military and heavy industry were early adopters.

But much of the consumer-level depictions have been limited to ideas that seemed only feasible in science fiction. Converging purposes behind current tech, however, has influenced consumers and marketers alike to rethink their first impressions of AR.  

An increased capability to manage AR elements is due to the following trends:

  • Mobile devices: With chip and memory ample for most daily needs, smartphones and tablets have made processing power portable to assist users in their active lives.
  • Internet Of Things (IOT) environment: With broadcast capability, mobile devices can now communicate with other devices on a given network, accessing the elements need to form the AR environment
  • Cloud Computing: Significant computational capability to support a network is centralized, facilitating the necessary communication to call upon augmented reality elements.

This convergence trend dovetails with incorporating new offline data sources into analytics solutions.

Understanding Context

Protocols for analytic tag management solutions, APIs and schema tags create new data sources for comparison alongside search, direct, and referral traffic sources. The result ushered a real time dynamic into analytic reporting.    

Marketers could now plan for real time behavior strategies beyond of a webpage.   

But analytic results rely on the context of data. Understanding a useful context for customers vexes marketers when it comes to applying strategies with augmented reality.  

Where and when within a customer’s purchase consideration does AR fit? How does AR benefit the customer?

With tech firms introducing new devices and associated software, marketers can feel confused about an optimal augmented reality strategy. 

Moreover, no tech firm is driving the lion’s share of technological choices, making the AR marketplace high competitive and leaving development choices in flux. The most heralded device in recent years, Google Glass, failed to draw sales and developer interest that would have grown customer interest beyond dedicated tech enthusiasts. 

Interesting Experiments

The in-store experimentation efforts of niche luxury and premium brands may hold an answer. The Verge recounts how Ferrari developed a virtual showroom application that lets customers build and view a vehicle before ordering.

Other premium brands are beginning to explore augmented reality value after a product is purchased.

Wired reports that Mini is experimenting with a driver’s goggles, which can show vehicle information normally contained in the gauge cluster or a heads-up display.

While similar in spirit to the Google Glass, the goggles give a more specific context — providing drive information — while differing its tech approach from Ferrari by enhancing an experience a customer is already having.

Overall a convergence of technology will let marketers move augmented reality beyond a fashionable buzzword to a meaningful tool to connect with customers.