Add Augmented Reality to your Marketing Campaign for under €50?

As with all new technology, one of the questions that swirls around Augmented Reality is “How much does it cost?”  In the early days, the answer to this was simply “a lot”.  While it is still possible to spend literally hundreds of thousands of dollars on Augmented Reality experiences, fairly complex projects can now be realised for only a few thousand dollars.  With the current tools on the market, you may easily find yourself spending more money on Project Management and Media / Creative work than actual Augmented Reality programming.  We have actually reached a point where it is very inexpensive to create Augmented Reality experiences and you can add Augmented Reality to an existing Marketing Campaign for under €50.

Why would you want to do this?  Very simply, an Augmented Reality marketing campaign can currently generate returns that are dramatically higher than conventional campaigns.  One campaign I was informed of was able to generate a response rate of over 30% in a market where 2% is the norm.  It only took a week to get rolling and cost around $2,000, with the bulk of the money going towards 3D model animation.  How much is it worth to you if you can increase your response rate by a factor of 10?

 

Tooling Costs

Let’s start by looking at how much the tools themselves cost.  I have selected three Augmented Reality Content Management Systems (AR CMS) which I am familiar with and like very much – ZapWorks, PixLive (by Vidinoti) and Layar.  While each tool has its own unique advantages, they all share the common feature in that they allow you to create Augmented Reality experiences without a single line of programming.  Everything is done over the Internet using a browser.

ZapWorks offers one month of free testing and a basic account for US $ 45 per month.  PixLive also offers a free one month trial account and has an Indie account for €49 per month.  While Layar also offers a Pro account for €34 per page and the pages live a full year, they also offer a Basic account for € 3 per page per month.

Is there actually a company or organization that doesn’t have €50 available somewhere in a marketing budget ?  This should be pocket lint.

One very large caveat needs to be mentioned before we start our journey.  Not all images are suitable as targets for Augmented Reality experiences.  Wikitude has a very good summary of best practices for images.  If you have a campaign where your primary image isn’t suitable, all is not lost.  ZapWorks uses what they call a Zapcode that is overlaid on top of an image, and can be used in situations where an image is not appropriate for scanning or the experience needs to be shared between many different images.

 

What can you do out of the box?

As the title of this article implies, you can add Augmented Reality to an existing Marketing Campaign for under €50.  This means that you already have a campaign going with creation and distribution costs already allocated.  Once you have paid for the Augmented Reality tools mentioned above, the first question is “What can we do with it?”

Actually, there is quite a bit you can do that costs absolutely nothing extra.

With ZapWorks you can overlay your print campaign with:

  • Text
  • Buttons that will
    • Change scenes
    • Open a URL
    • Dial a telephone number
    • Send an email
    • Save a Contact to user’s device
    • Add an Event to a calendar to user’s device
    • Upload a file to user’s device
    • Send a message to the Scanner App

With PixLive you can overlay your print campaign with:

  • Text
  • Buttons that will
    • Open a URL
    • Open PDF file
    • Share a Tweet
    • Share a Facebook page
    • Start a Timer that can move to a new Scene when it expires

With Layar you can overlay your print campaign with:

  • Text
  • Buttons that will
    • Open a URL
    • Dial a telephone number
    • Buy a product
    • Send an email
    • Download an App (Android & iOS)
    • Show a Twitter feed
    • Follow a Twitter account
    • Share a Tweet
    • Like a page on Facebook
    • Share a message on Facebook
    • Share a Facebook page
    • Pin It on Pinterest

All of this is bundled with your monthly tooling fee, so is essentially free to use to your heart’s content.  Clearly, there is enough room in here for a Call To Action in almost any form. Assuming that we don’t have to pay for any additional Augmented Reality content, then we’ve just hit pay dirt and the project is done for way under our budget of €50.

 

Adding Images, Video and Audio

I don’t consider adding images, video or audio as a “free of charge” item because usually you have to pay for the content one way or another.  I say “usually”, however, because there are numerous sites that have images, audio and video free of charge.

Photo and Video Resources

Audio Resources

What can you do once you have this media?

With ZapWorks you can overlay your print campaign with:

  • Single Images
  • A Photo Album
  • Video
  • Audio

As well, you can have audio play in the background once a target has been recognized and the overlay elements are displayed.

With PixLive you can overlay your print campaign with:

  • Single Images
  • An Image Carousel
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Scratch (requires images)
  • Scratch & Win (requires images)

With Layar you can overlay your print campaign with:

  • Vote in a poll (requires images)
  • Images
  • Image Carousels
  • Linked Image Carousels
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Soundcloud Audio

 

3D Models

We’re not done yet.  Some Augmented Reality CMS tools also allow you to display not only 3D Models, but also Animated 3D Models!  Of the tools mentioned in this article, only PixLive supports 3D Models without any programming effort and they do an excellent job of it. Not only are they very flexible in the various file formats they allow you to use, the display of the model in their tool is accurate and they are the only tool I have found that allow the user to manipulate the 3D model once it is displayed.

ZapWorks does support 3D Models, however they require that you use ZapWorks Studio, which costs US $ 135 / month.  The good news, however, is that you can get a static model to display without any programming!

If want to use a model of a product that you have designed, most design tools will allow you to export the completed design to a 3D format that can be used in the AR CMS tool.  If you don’t have a 3D model there are numerous sites which have both free and paid models.

3D Model Libraries

If you have an object that you would like to have a 3D model for, but cannot find it on any site – you can create your own.  A few very good guides to scanning devices on the market are below.  While they don’t cover every single option available, they are a good starting point.

 

360° Panoramas

This is another feature unique to PixLive.  While I have not yet found a resource library for 360° Panoramas, I suspect most people are going to want to capture their own images.  There are numerous devices on the market with prices ranging from under €100 into the thousands.  A Google search for “360 camera” gives me about 15 million hits and an Amazon search for the same gives me over 86,000 hits.  A few reviews of 360 cameras listed below.

The most important thing is that you will be able to do everything mentioned without writing one single line of code!  That’s what we call  the democratisation of Augmented Reality!

ZapWorks

ZapWorks is a very easy to use tool that anybody should be able to get up and running on with only a few minutes of review.  ZapWorks also has the most robust and flexible Scanner of any tool that I have tested.

ZapWorks doesn’t use images as recognition targets.  Instead they use what they call Zapcodes, which you can think of as 2D barcodes.  Zapcodes can come in many designs and colors, so you can modify the Zapcode to align with your own logo.  Once you select your Zapcode, you can overlay it onto just about any background image and use that as your advertising campaign.

As well, Zapcodes can be emailed or sent over social media.  Because the Zapcode is very small in comparison to most images used in advertising campaigns, they fit nicely on just about any mobile phone screen and can be used with any social media that accepts images.

The ZapWorks interface is very user friendly and supports most of the design elements you could want:

  • Single Images
  • Photo Album
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Text
  • Buttons
  • Contacts
  • Calendar Events

The Contacts and Calendar events are relatively uncommon.  Notably missing is 3D Models, however this can be accomplished using ZapWorks Studio, at a cost of US $135 / month.  Most design elements can be customized and ZapWorks will let you create scenes that can be linked together, allowing you to have multiple Augmented Reality experiences in a single campaign. You can also have audio play in the background while the AR experience is being displayed.

With ZapWorks you can get a Basic account for US $45 for a month.  The Basic account includes:

  • ZAPWORKS DESIGNER
  • ZAPWORKS WIDGETS
  • FULL DATA ANALYTICS
  • UNLIMITED FREE ZAPCODES
  • UNLIMITED ZAPCODES VIEWS
  • CONTENT HOSTING & SERVING
  • UNLIMITED FILE STORAGE

For under €50, you can take advantage of ZapWork’s free 30 day trial, and once you are satisfied that your campaign meets your needs, buy one month of Basic and launch!

For more details on ZapWorks, please have a look at my recent review of the product – Product Review – ZapWorks

PixLive

PixLive is a robust and very flexible tool that has not only most of the common functionality you could want, it also has some exceptionally unique design elements.  As with most tools in its class, it requires a target image that must be scanned and recognized for the Augmented Reality experience to be displayed.

Design elements that are supported by PixLive are:

  • Single Images
  • Image Carousel
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Text
  • Buttons (both text and image based)
  • Scratch
  • Scratch & Win
  • 3D Models
  • 360º Panoramas
  • Open Web Site
  • Open PDF file
  • Facebook Button
  • Twitter Button
  • Timer

If you want to use a tool that has Scratch, Scratch & Win, 360º Panoramas, or Timer capability, then you can stop here.  PixLive is the only tool that I have found that supports these functions in a browser based CMS.   It is also one of the very few tools I have worked with that allows the user to manipulate the 3D Model once it is displayed.

PixLive also has the ability to create numerous scenes that can be stitched together to create just about any Augmented Reality experience you could want.

With PixLive you can get a Indie account for €49 for a month.  The Indie account includes:

  • AR Player: PixLive Player
  • Included Credits: 3/month of subscription
  • Additional Credits: €49 for 5 credits
  • Publication Limit: 15 contents
  • Publication Duration: Subscription period
  • SDK License: 30 Days Trial

You should be aware of a few restrictions with the Indie account, however:

  • you need to scan a QR code before you can access the augmented content
  • there is a watermark on the camera view
  • users don’t have access to their stats
  • you cannot publish more than 15 pages

For under €50, you can take advantage of PixLive’s free 30 day trial, and once you are satisfied that your campaign meets your needs, buy one month of Indie and launch!

For more details on PixLive, please have a look at my recent review of the product – Product Review – PixLive

Layar

Layar, a subsidiary of Blippar, has a very robust and easy to use interface that supports a long list of design elements.  As with most tools in its class, it requires a target image that must be scanned and recognized for the Augmented Reality experience to be displayed.

Design elements that are supported by Layar are:

  • Open a web page
  • Call a number
  • Vote in a poll
  • Buy a product
  • Send an email
  • Download an App (Android & iOS)
  • Images
  • Image Carousels
  • Linked Image Carousels
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Soundcloud Audio
  • Show a Twitter feed
  • Follow on Twitter
  • Send a Tweet
  • Share a message via email
  • Like a page on Facebook
  • Share a message on Facebook
  • Share a Facebook page
  • Pin It on Pinterest

Additionally, if you sign up for the Pro package, you can also have:

  • Video with Alpha channel
  • Launch a Geo-Layer
  • Launch an App
  • Hack your own button

Layar has more Social Media functions than any other product I have reviewed, as well as a wide variety of options for Images and Audio that are missing on most other platforms. Notably missing, however, is support for 3D Models.

With Layar you can get a Pro account for US $ 34 / page with the following features:

  • Published for 1 year
  • All design elements mentioned above
  • Video hosting
  • Statistics

For under €50, you can sign up for a Layar Pro account and create & launch your page!

Please note, however, that the Layar pricing does have a catch.  It is only valid if all of the conditions below apply:

  • You or your company generate a yearly revenue of less than EUR 2 million.
  • You or your company employ less than 10 people.
  • You’re using the Services to serve an audience in one country only.
  • If you’re using the Services on behalf of a customer, your customer also meets all of the above conditions.

For more details on Layar, please have a look at my recent review of the product – Product Review – Layar

Would you like a more thorough walk-trough of any of these platforms?  Please go to http://www.ar-intelligence.info/product-review-easy-ar-cms/ or drop me a line.  I would be happy to help you and your team make an informed choice on your AR tooling.