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Augmented Reality is Bound by the Same Problems as QR Codes

Aside from a stubborn few, QR codes are widely believed to be obsolete. They have become just as common as the hashtag that was added onto a print ad as an afterthought. And they have become just as ignored as the banner ads on a typical website. Only about 5% of Americans who own a mobile phone actually scan a QR code.

However, unimpressive engagement statistics are not the QR code’s only concern. Augmented reality (AR) is an expanding alternative that allows brands to superimpose 3D computer-generated images on the real-time camera feed of a mobile user’s screen. With this technology, brands can include everything that QR codes offer (videos, website redirection, etc.) and take it a step further by immersing their users with 3D technology. However, AR also faces similar obstacles that have already stunted QR code growth.

Lack of Standardization
There has yet to be a mobile device that comes with an augmented reality app pre-loaded. Although augmented reality platforms are available for download, the absence of one standardized platform limits the exposure of each AR campaign. Brands are often driven to imbed their augmented reality ads within their own mobile applications, which limits its exposure even further because now brands must first convince the consumer to download their app.

Widespread Adoption
The lack of a standardized platform also discourages smaller brands to implement an AR segment to their campaigns. Current AR platforms (e.g. Blippar, Augment, etc.) lack the userbase to merit the additional expense of implementing an AR campaign. As a result, most AR campaigns are a luxury only major brands can currently afford. 

Meaningful Content
Although brands have the potential to do much more with AR technology than QR codes, many brands still treat AR as an afterthought and are unwilling to dedicate the time and money needed to create a well-executed AR campaign. Jeep’s use of AR is a good example of an augmented reality app that falls short of the technology’s full potential. On top of having to download a Jeep-specific mobile app, the content offered by the app’s use of augmented reality is disappointing in that it offers no additional value than what is available on the website.  

In the end, these three obstacles come hand in hand. A standardized augmented reality platform will make it easier for consumers to enjoy AR ads. In turn, a standardized platform will ideally have a big enough user-base to justify all brands investing in immersive and experiential AR campaigns.