MILTON KEYNES: Audi has launched an image-recognition app that marks its first step towards creating a full-blown augmented reality platform, the automaker's UK digital manager has explained.

Initially, the Audi Vision iOS app will be triggered by images in the vehicle manufacturer's brochure and play video content on a mobile device. This feature will also extend to print and outdoor ads, and point-of-sale material. 

Audi has greater ambitions, however, which will ultimately see its cars become augmented reality triggers that can deliver video content and product information.

"The interesting thing about the automotive marketing world is that we market a dynamic product but it's often presented in a stationary, formulaic format," observed Hugh Fletcher, Audi's national digital manager.

"If you think about brochures, we're showing really exciting cars in quite a non-dynamic format and some really fantastic technology but we're explaining it in static copy," he told Marketing Week. "There's a lot that can be done to bring our cars and technology to life through content."

Fletcher was also enthusiastic about the development of a bespoke augmented reality platform for aesthetic reasons.

"As a premium brand we're looking at really top end marketing," he said. "When you use a QR code or something they take away from the overall look and feel of the marketing. We don't want to have to change our imagery to use the AR technology."

He also explained that the app was not going to be a "use once and chuck it out" tool, but would be integrated into Audi's long-term marketing strategy.

Other auto brands have also used AR in campaigns, but this has been on a more limited basis than that planned by Audi.

Volkswagen, for example, produced an AR app for the launch of its new Golf Cabriolet, creating an AR showroom app for the iPad, iPhone and Android, allowing users to explore the vehicle its features.

And Honda developed an app triggered by sound cues which rewarded players who successfully interacted with a television ad for its Jazz model. This attracted a younger audience and kept them engaged beyond the ad's initial TV campaign.

Data sourced from Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff