Goodbye QR codes, hello augmented reality

Augmented reality

Simon Andrew, Insight and Engagement Director, Benefex

Black and white squares. Taking you to a website which you could probably type out quicker. QR codes brought some novelty, but they were ultimately underwhelming.

A QR code is essentially a barcode that, when scanned, can direct your phone to a website, download a voucher, or complete a number of other actions. In 2013, comScore reported that 10% of UK adults had scanned a QR code.

We had a lot of fun with them back then, but the views on QR codes now are somewhat mixed. Some marketers are still looking for ways to integrate them, whilst others are avoiding them like the plague.

But here’s a little secret: it’s 2017 and there is a much better alternative…

Introducing augmented reality
You can’t fail to have seen the news around Pokémon Go. It attracted 30 million users within its first month and became a global phenomenon.

What Pokémon Go did for communicators was put augmented reality on the map.

Not familiar with augmented reality? It’s the ability to show digital assets on a real-world background. In the case of Pokémon Go, this would be the Pokémon themselves. When looking at the phone camera, they would appear to actually exist in the local park, or on the street corner.

The digital assets are cleverly hinged on real world markers, rotating and changing as the camera moves. Making them seem as if they are there.

What it gives us is a super engaging way of getting users to interact with our content.

HR as marketers
With a push to become digital on most company agendas, augmented reality gives us a way to bring innovative digital methods into the workplace.

Here’s how it works…
Similarly to a QR code, a user will scan a visual that we produce. And, also similarly to a QR code, when they scan that visual, an action will take place in a way that we dictate. But here’s the thing: The visual that a user scans can be a beautiful design, not a boring black and white square. And the resulting action can be hinged in the real world.

Let’s talk about a specific example
We recently promoted our own benefit scheme here at Benefex. One feature of our campaign was a poster of an employee, stuck on our kitchen cupboard. It had an eye-catching quote to draw the viewer, then encouraged them to scan it to find out more. And that’s when the magic happened.

When the users scanned the poster, the employee started moving and talking. The viewer could walk around and it would seem as though this video was magically playing on the kitchen cupboard, just for them.

What we saw
When someone first discovers the magic of augmented reality – it really does seem like that: magic – they are quick to tell others, share what they’ve found, and the information spreads organically.

Nir Eyal, author of the fantastic book, Hooked, talks about drivers of behaviour. And we can link them to what we have seen. He refers to rewards of the hunt and rewards of the self.

Rewards of the hunt points to the need people have to find new information. In prehistoric times, we would consider this a search for food. But in modern culture, food is plentiful and it is information that can give us an edge over others. The information delivered via augmented reality feels exclusive in its nature – because it’s not actually there until you scan it on your phone.

Rewards for the self refers to our pleasure-seeking. Certain stimuli will result in physiological changes in our brain that act as a reward. Audio and visual information can be one such phenomena – and the surprising way in which augmented reality delivers it works in our favour.

It’s quite exciting
Augmented reality gives us the ability to house digital content in printed collateral. A business card could play a video. A one-page flyer could show a carousel of images. Suddenly a small printed area could hold a lot of digital information.

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So, next time you have a message from the CEO, why not make a recording and play it to employees on a poster around the sites. It’s innovative, it’s digital, and it’s got bags of wow factor.

Like this article? We thought you might. You can read more from Benefex here.