LONDON: Augmented Reality (AR), the technology behind Pokémon Go, Google Lens, and Snapchat’s filters has huge potential, but only about half of UK consumers are aware of the term, despite growing use-cases.

A new study suggests that, as the technology develops, the opportunities for brands to use AR will grow as will its marketing effectiveness.

According to Mindshare Futures’ new report, Layered, the potential for expansion of the technology among consumers – along with its ability to surprise and delight – has plenty of headroom for growth, as just 51% of UK consumers are aware of the term.

The report, conducted in association with AR-platform Zappar and the neuroscience enhanced research firm Neuro-Insight, surveyed 1,000 UK smartphone users, brain-scanned 150 participants, and conducted an in-depth digital ethnography. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: How augmented reality hacks the human brain.)

Just under a third (27%) of a nationally representative sample reported having used at least one AR-enhanced service – be that Snapchat Face Filters, Pokemon Go, or QR codes. In London, the proportion rises to 41%; and among young people (18-34) to 60%.

Speaking at the report launch, Heather Andrew, CEO of Neuro-Insight, noted the neurological impact of the medium. “Creating strong visual attention, making us step back, makes for a really interesting experience,” she said, but what really matters is whether it leads to changes in behaviour.

Participants exposed to AR experiences displayed a 70% higher memory response than the control group that performed non-AR tasks. Long-term memory encoding is important as the brain perceives a future use for the information, Andrew explained.

“Because of that, there’s quite a strong correlation between strong levels of memory response and subsequent decision-making purchase behaviour.”

Its impact is also highly emotional. AR is not only a more compelling medium, commanding exceptionally high attention levels – as much as 45% higher than the average for TV viewing or online browsing – it also elicits a heightened emotional intensity, particularly, Andrews said, among younger people.

Augmented reality was a term first coined in 1990 as a way for Boeing to deliver real-time information to its engineers on the ground.

Only now, however, has the technology reached a point of processing power and device penetration for it to be a significant technology for the future of media, less exclusive than virtual reality and more accessible, and brands from Bulmers to Nike have used AR very effectively.

Sourced from Mindshare, WARC