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Augmented Reality and Image Recognition

Key learnings 

  • Image Recognition technology is “game changing” for marketers 
  • “Blippar can be used to trigger anything a phone is capable of doing” and functions as a bridge between physical and the digital worlds. Consumers can use it to ‘visually browse’ the world and access content about what they see 
  • “Advertising for advertising’s sake is not the right approach – it’s about the content. If you build across editorial as well as advertising, then people will have their phones out when they turn the page to an ad. Where interactive ads are coupled with interactive editorial, you can get up to 20 times the response rates.” 
  • Blippar allows users to buy things, view videos, access dynamic content like weather information and public transport times, play games, vote, access offers and enter competitions. 
  • Every experience can be instantly shareable via social media and other smartphone functionality, which “dramatically expands the reach of each campaign put through the Blippar platform” 
  • Blippar can deliver a wide range of metrics including interactions, unique users, number of times they interact, length of time they interact, when they interact, tap-through rates, direct responses and heat maps showing where they interacted
Jess Butcher, Blippar   

Summary 

Image Recognition technology is “hugely exciting and game changing,” says Jess Butcher, co-founder and chief marketing officer at Blippar. 

“Markerless image recognition” technology means consumers can use their mobile phones to scan the world around them, find out more about what they are looking at and then interact with retailers, manufacturers, media owners and other consumers, without the need for barcodes, digital watermarketing or similar systems for coding information into the image. IR is immensely liberating and Blippar is taking every advantage of it. 

While Blippar has been mainly used for marketing so far, the company is “working to extend the technology across editorial as well so it’s not just about advertising. If you build across editorial as well as advertising, then people will have their phones out when they turn the page to an ad. We can see that where interactive ads are coupled with interactive editorial, you can get up to 20 times the response rates.” 

"Advertising for advertising’s sake is not the right approach – it’s about the content. Blippar can be used to trigger anything a phone is capable of doing.” The Blippar app bridges the physical and the digital worlds, and consumers can ‘visually browse’ to access content about what they see. 

Content can be delivered in an Augmented Reality form, overlaid on what the user sees on the smartphone screen, but also as web pages, video, sound or text. 

Blippar can allow users to buy things, view videos, access dynamic content like weather information and public transport times, play games, vote, access offers and enter competitions. And every experience can be instantly shareable via social media and other smartphone functionality. “The Blippar experience is socially shareable as well. That dramatically expands the reach of each campaign put through the Blippar platform.” 

Butcher provided a number of examples of campaigns which have used Blippar. 

In 2011, Heinz worked with Blippar on a campaign for Heinz Ketchup. The Blippar app can recognise the iconic Heinz keystone design and allow users to access a recipe book using the product as an ingredient. Heinz didn’t advertise the activity when it launched, or put instructions on the bottle; it just released the information on social media. Since then, it has had massive traction, driven by word of mouth and by social sharing, resulting in 954,758 interactions and 267,662 unique users. 

A 2012 US campaign for Maybelline Color Shots featured a Blippable ad in Vogue, ELLE, People and US Weekly. People could take a picture of their nails, then ‘paint’ them using the 40 colours in the product line-up. It achieved 112,889 total Blipps, 57,871 unique users and an interaction time of 4.2 minutes, with around 10% of users sharing pictures on social media. 

“But what was really interesting was that about 10% of all the people sharing pictures were men, judging from their hairy fingers,” Butcher added. 

A Blippable poster and album cover for Justin Bieber’s Believe allowed fans to access exclusive video content, take a selfie with a ‘virtual’ Justin, enter a competition to win tour tickets and buy the album directly. Total Blipps were 1,165,272 from 443,296 unique users. 

UK free magazine ShortList worked with Blippar on its coverage of the announcement of the new Star Wars sequel, Star Wars VII. Readers Blipped the editorial to vote for whether they thought it was a good idea or a bad one. 

Another campaign with ShortList saw the magazine publish a special edition with 20 pages of Blippable interactive content, including the world’s first ‘playable’ cover. Readers could play videos, enter compeitions, instantly vote, try on clothes virtually and ‘buy now’. It achieved 251,655 Blipps from 57,094 unique users, who each Blipped on average 4.4 times. 

The Blippar platform delivers a wide range of metrics, including interactions, unique users, times they interact, how long for, when, tap-through rates, direct responses and heat maps showing where they were when they interacted. 

Marketers can accurately determine ROI for Blippar campaigns, which is important as Blippar is a medium unlike any other. Butcher says it delivers massively higher dwell times and average conversion rates – up to 75 seconds for dwell time and up to 15% for conversion rates. 

Blippar is now looking for agencies and brands to partner to test a range of variables, covering the effectiveness of different channels, creative, offers and audiences. 

The company is also “absolutely looking to tie up with hardware manufacturers. We want Blippar to be on new devices in the same way that Facebook is. You don’t want lots of separate apps for image recognition – it’s important to create a consistent feel.” 

Ideally, Butcher wants Blippar to move from being one app amongst many to being the one tool people use to access content through visual interactions on their mobile phones throughout the day – scanning cereal packets at breakfast to play games on their phones, scanning soft drink cans on the way to work to listen to new music, scanning bus stop posters for products to get directions to the nearest store that stocks them, getting recipes off food packaging, taking part in newspaper polls, buying items advertised in magazines and virtually trying on items or makeup at home.