LONDON: The coming year is likely to see many marketers investing in augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), but before they do so, they should consider how to measure benefits against objectives, according to a Warc report.

Warc's Toolkit 2017 notes that VR is becoming a viable mainstream marketing tool while the older technology of AR has been boosted by the phenomenal rise of Pokémon GO.

Both offer ways to deliver brand experiences that cut through the advertising clutter. In the case of VR delivered via headsets, for example, these will block out all distractions from TV, websites, and apps.

And neuroscience research has demonstrated that VR viewers are emotionally engaged 34% longer than when they viewed the same content in 2D and 16% longer than when they watched it in 360-degree video on a flat screen – although they may also be distracted by elements unrelated to the storyline.

But the focus of these efforts is on a relatively small number of consumers – it is a complement, rather than a replacement, for reach-based campaigns using tried-and-tested media, the report says. (Non-subscribers can download a sample of this Toolkit chapter here.)

AR via mobile devices, on the other hand, is likely to be more significant for many marketers because it offers great scope for how, when and where consumers can engage with campaigns, branded collateral, packaging and product. It also opens the door to technology such as visual search.

In addition, AR relies on existing mobile behaviours that users are comfortable with – such as using the camera – and is easy to set up – while brands can use existing apps such as Aurasma and Blippar which come with a ready-made user base.

Whichever technology marketers may favour, "They need to set concrete goals and be flexible in meeting customer needs while adopting different measures of success, such as search results and engagement scores," advises Serena Koivurinta, an analyst at Deloitte Digital, the consulting firm which helped produce the report.

And, she adds, "it's essential to keep user-testing different technologies and approaches. The technology is one way to solve a problem, not the only solution."

AR and VR are among the tech and media trends for 2017 that will be explored by Dan Calladine, global head of media futures at Carat Global, in a Warc Webinar taking place today (3pm GMT, 10am EST). Interested readers can register here.

Data sourced from Warc