Augmented reality will change the digital world, but in the meantime it highlights three content marketing essentials. By Vicky Mayne.
It’s safe to say that Pokémon Go is a hit. It’s the most downloaded app in the US and now it’s sweeping the UK.
For the uninitiated, Pokémon Go is a game where you hunt for virtual creatures that are hidden in real places. A map within the app shows you the location of the various Pokémon. Once in the suitable spot you look through the phone, as though taking a photo, and can see the wee beasties scurrying about, superimposed on the environment about you.
The popularity of the game has led to children being lost down caves, the discovery of dead bodies and hordes of people stampeding through Central Park, phones aloft, chasing some poor beleaguered virtual monster.
This blending of the real world with an imaginary one is known as augmented reality (AR). AR used to be the less popular sibling of virtual reality (VR) which has been in the spotlight ever since the Oculus Rift was announced – a gaming headset which plants you firmly in the middle of a virtual world. However, given that you can’t see the real world whilst using it, you’re confined to a safe space in your living room. This has minimised its uptake, and the $599 price tag hasn’t helped either. But Pokémon Go is free to download and can be taken anywhere on a smartphone device. With widespread uptake, it gives an insight in to the future of the digital world.
So what does this mean for content marketers?
Augmented reality is already being used in architecture, education and retail, mixing physical and virtual worlds.
It can let you take a peek inside a restaurant as you walk by, allow you to try on clothes without a changing room and give you a 360-degree in-situ preview of your home decorating plans .
The challenge for content marketers will be how to use this technology to provide a useful service to chosen audiences. Such an exchange of practical information in return for loyalty, trust or attention is at the heart of content marketing.
More AR options will emerge as the technology develops, but there is arguably something more important and more immediate that the meteoric rise of Pokémon Go can teach us.
The Pokémon Go holy trinity
Pokémon Go is visual, interactive and mobile. These three features will become increasingly important as you work to keep your content cutting edge.
The brain can process visual information much faster than it can text which is important to remember when optimising your content for the ever more impatient consumer.
Interactivity will keep users occupied, increasing the time they spend on your site. Straight PDFs and static infographics will be replaced by interactive formats that engage and, crucially, provide more value or a better user experience.
And if your digital platforms aren’t mobile-friendly yet, make them so. Last year in the UK, smartphone use overtook laptop use and the ability to pay and bank using smartphones will widen the gap even more.
The next digital decade
If the last decade was all about interacting with people digitally, the next will be about interacting with the space around us.
Smartphones and tablets allow us to be moving whilst online, and soon we’ll be digitally interacting with our environment as we’re doing it.
Pokémon Go may be a craze but AR is here to stay and content marketers need to understand how it could allow them to meet their goals. In the meantime we can thank these virtual monsters for reminding us that the future of engagement is visual, interactive and mobile.