From Toys to Tools – Augmented Reality’s Increasing Value to Marketers

Marketers, ARe you ready for augmented reality? Brand Federation consultant Paul Atienza explores its move from the toy box to the marketing tool box.

ARe you ready for augmented reality?

From seeing yourself with dog noses and flower crowns to finding a Pokemon right in front of you, augmented reality (AR) has brought imaginations to life in a kitschy and playful way since 2016.

While many people still consider AR a “toy,” 76% of consumers want to use it as a “tool” in their everyday lives, according to a survey by Deloitte Digital in 2021. Brands are responding, deploying AR for more practical uses while still retaining its playful charm.

Augmented reality started playfully.

Why are marketers using augmented reality?

As brands seek to better engage their consumers, marketers are always on the lookout for new ways to break through the noise and communicate with them. With the pandemic accelerating the shift from brick-and-mortar to e-commerce, AR’s popularity is increasing because it allows brands to emulate the physical shopping experience with a virtual “try-on.” Demand for it is there, too. In fact, new data from Shopify, an e-commerce company, shows that digital interactions with products featuring AR content showed a 94% higher conversion rate than those without AR.

Augmented reality becoming an effective brand tool.

How are brands deploying AR?

Marketers today have been using AR across the marketing funnel, from awareness to interest to consideration. Here are three ways marketers are implementing the technology in their campaigns.


AR allows brands to strengthen consumer connections to them in playful, culturally-relevant ways that entertain and drive engagement.


Starbucks made an AR effect on Instagram to help customers share interest in the brand among friends.

Brands using augmented reality effectively.


Gatorade created a fun, immersive experience with a Snapchat Lens for sports fans to mimic a common celebratory moment during the “big game.”

Brands using augmented reality effectively.

Live Nation

Live Nation is partnering with Snapchat to enhance concerts and festivals with AR.

Brands using augmented reality effectively.


By using space and objects in the world, AR creates opportunities for brands to help consumers in everyday life.

The Home Depot

To help its customers get more done, The Home Depot added in-store navigation with their mobile app to assist them in finding what they need for their next project.

Brands using augmented reality effectively.


The world’s largest search engine becomes a search engine for the world with Google Lens to identify and give context to objects (and even translate text on them!) in real time.

Google Lens launches on iOS to power visual searches within the Google app  - CNET


To help children learn through a hands-on approach, Osmo made educational iPhone and iPad games using AR to enhance learning in math, language, and other cognitive skills.

Brands using augmented reality effectively.


By using the space around you (and even yourself!) to overlay products, AR helps visualize what they may look like in the everyday.


The “Place” app lets people preview spaces in their homes with furniture and other pieces from Ikea.

Brands using augmented reality effectively.


The “Virtual Artist” app lets people get realistic sneak peeks of what they might look like with different makeups and other cosmetics.

Brands using augmented reality effectively.


Using Snap Inc.’s Camera Kit API, Puma added AR-powered fit and sizing recommendations to their existing app and website to help consumers shop for the right shoes.

Snapchat's New AR Shopping Tools Are A Game-Changer - VRScout

Where is marketing with AR effective?

Brand awareness and sales conversion numbers back up AR’s effectiveness. According to Nielsen, when modeling to YouGov’s BrandIndex tracking data, AR experiences on Snapchat showed high awareness effectiveness, consistently outperforming total media, and the average return on ad spend (ROAS) was $1.67 across the 15 brands studied (topping digital, television, and total media across those same brands).

Brands using augmented reality effectively.

Increased adoption of AR marketing has driven changes to how it is bought by marketers, with increasing efforts by social platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok focused on making the technology a more accessible addition to modern marketing mixes.

On both brand building and sales effectiveness, AR is primed to be a reliable channel that can have real business value.

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