Does your 2016 digital marketing plan include AR?

The New Year is fast approaching, and marketers are being asked to push the envelope (and spreadsheet columns) on 2016’s marketing campaigns.

As we consider channels and tactics for 2016’s marketing spend, we have to acknowledge that, as Gartner puts it, “digital marketing is now marketing in a digital world.”

While offline marketing materials like print, merchandise, and point of sale may be impactful in person, customers now expect a seamless experience from the physical to mobile and digital.

AR can help connect the dots. Bring traditional marketing into the digital age and:

  • Create interactive print
  • Measure offline marketing
  • Drive customers directly to the digital point of sale

Creating AR campaigns is easier than you may think. Download this free e-book prepared by Aurasma and HP and find out how marketers can shorten the path to purchase, drive brand engagement, and add measurability to their offline marketing activities.

And feel free to post your comments below for the benefit of AustAR Labs and its readers.

DNA matching & VR: The world of online dating in 2040

How will technology change the way we date over the next 25 years? From full sensory virtual reality dating to DNA matching, researchers explore the possibilities.

Cross-posted from The Telegraph

Technology has already transformed the dating world, with matchmaking websites allowing people to scope out potential partners before they meet, and apps like Tinder and Happn pairing people based on location. But how will this technological intervention into our romantic affairs play out in the future?

According to a new report, full sensory virtual reality and behaviour-based matching will be among the key features of dating in the year 2040. These developments will save singles time and energy, deliver more accurate matches, and even provide insight and real-time assistance.

The report, commissioned by relationship site eHarmony and compiled by MSc Management students at Imperial College Business School, is based on analysis of more than 100 years of trend data and interviews with leading experts across the fields of anthropology, sociology, technology and biomedicine.

The findings reveal a “super-charged” continuation of today’s online dating trends. People will always want to be matched and ultimately form relationships with like-minded people in the most efficient way possible. What is different is how they will go about it.

“By 2040 we estimate that 70 per cent of couples will get together online, with technology revolutionising the way we find love and build our relationships,” said eHarmony UK country manager, Romain Bertrand.

“From making matches between singles even more accurate based on deep learning of our behaviour, to streamlining the dating process so it’s less time consuming, and even helping couples to enhance their relationships with artificial intelligence, finding the right person will be easier than ever.”

Here are some of the ways that advances in science and consumer technology will redfine the dating world over the next 25 years:

1. Full-sensory virtual dating

The report predicts that, in just 25 years, the rate at which data can be shared will be so fast that all five human senses could be digitally simulated to create a full-sensory virtual reality.

This would make dating a far more efficient and less time consuming process. A full sensory virtual date would be exactly like a real one – you could hold someone’s hand and even smell their fragrance – but all from the comfort of your own home.

It would have the benefit of opening up a global dating pool of people to meet, and redefining what people consider to be a “long distance” relationship. And with advances in wearable technology, they would be able to tap into this VR experience from wherever they wanted.

2. Biotechnology

Biologically, humans are programmed to find people attractive who would be a good genetic match in order to produce the strongest possible offspring, meaning that by studying DNA we may be able to unlock the rules of attraction.

While in recent years DNA research has been cost prohibitive, the price of sequencing DNA from a cell will fall from around £52m in 2003 to £650 by 2040.

Greater affordability will enable more research, and by 2040 scientists may have a clear understanding of the role our own DNA plays in attraction, allowing it to be introduced to the “matching” process.

3. Behaviour-based matching

The growing “hyper-connectivity” between our everyday devices – known as the Internet of Things – together with the prominence of wearable technology could transform how people meet by 2040.

Rather than having to articulate what you are looking for in a partner, matching could become even more accurate through tracking people’s behaviour and how they react to different situations.

For example, smart contact lenses could track the type of people you look at most frequently when your body produces the signs of attraction (measured by hormone levels, pheromone production, etc).

On a deeper level, this technology could identify your core character traits based on physical, chemical and neural signals, such as how you react to conflict or in social situations, and find complimentary matches.

4. Artificial Intelligence

As well as enhancing the date experience, improved connectivity and artificial intelligence will allow for greater “deep learning” by processing of vast amounts of highly complex data from multiple sources.

The speed of this analysis would allow for real-time feedback and therefore dramatically improve the decision making process when it comes to finding love.

Physically, devices could track your actions and find other singles that have a similar lifestyle pattern, tracking data such as the places you go and the activities you do.

While on a date, singles would be able to receive information on their surroundings and actions, such as how well topics of conversation are being received, and an appropriate course of action.

For couples, this data could help improve their relationship by identifying issues and resolutions, and even calculating the optimum time for life milestones, such as when, or if, to get married or have children.

Mobile apps for all businesses

A mobile app isn’t just for the large enterprise anymore. Now they can provide a highly specialised and customised solution for customers of all business sizes.

Until recently the mobile app has been seen as an expensive, time consuming and challenging solution to develop, something that only the large enterprise can afford or implement. This has now changed.

Apps are easy to build and they allow for the small business to develop a solution that is customisable and completely structured around the business and the brand. Through an app, SMEs can create a native environment that captures customer loyalty and keeps them engaged.

A recent study undertaken by the mobile analytics firm Mobidia focused on the use of customised apps in the consumer space and found that an average 48% of Android users shopped online through mobile commerce apps.

The same principles can be applied in the B2B space – create apps that make accessing content, capabilities and features a simple endeavour and you have a solution that keeps your customers coming back for more. It is no longer a question of whether to build an app for the business or the products it sells, but rather what needs to be done to ensure that it is done well.

It is essential that a business app be easy to use. Complex user interfaces with steep learning curves will alienate the customer and are unlikely to keep them engaged. It is also vital that an app be focused on delivering one very specific solution – it’s tempting to try and cram a diverse range of capabilities into one app, but this potentially can result in a confused mess that makes little sense to anyone.

Personalising the experience

When creating an app, especially if it is being developed as part of an overall solution or implementation, adding in layers of personalised content can make all the difference. By adding in layers that are customer or solution specific, the experience becomes a far more compelling one.

The process also does not demand that suddenly the SME spend terrifying quantities of cash on getting apps developed. Mobile app development costs are not as high as many think, and AustAR Labs offers this service at a price point that doesn’t massively impact the bottom line over the long term, especially if an app can be used across multiple customers and installations.

Ultimately, however, the real value lies in keeping customers loyal and engaged and coming back for more and it is in this arena that the app truly shines. It is a tool that can now be used by businesses of any size to boost business capabilities and enhance products and solutions

Eight factors to consider before investing in a Mobile App

Thinking of building a mobile app for your business? With an increasing percentage of smartphone users opting to conduct business transactions on their mobile devices, a mobile app seems like a natural progression that will offer your customers a unique experience in an easy-to-use interface.

But considering whether a mobile app is the right move for your business — and how your plan will be carried out if so — is critical.

Cross-posted from Forbes

Below, eight technology executives share what factors your technology team should consider before investing the time — and capital — into building a mobile app.

1. The entire mobile experience

It’s easy to want to build a mobile app; it’s even easier to miss something. One very important piece to consider is the entire user experience. In our case, our mobile app was built for our online custom clothing business. While we built a beautiful app that allowed clients to build and order shirts, we failed to plan for refreshing out-of-stock/new inventory. Make sure to take the mobile experience into consideration before building an app. — Zeeshan Sheikh, Blank Label

2. Device agnosticism

While we like to believe all users will access our mobile applications through the devices we specify, the practical business reality is they will likely need to access these applications via a variety of “non-standard” devices. Where possible, design the apps from a perspective of device agnosticism — independent of specific devices and operating systems. Let business value drive technology decisions. — Alan Dillman, Marbaloo Marketing

3. User acquisition costs

Mobile is quite different and can be challenging to get new installs. You must use user acquisition channels to promote and acquire installs through paid ads. There is an art and science to it, and you have to carefully and constantly measure your CPI (cost per install) versus LTV (lifetime value). If you’re not careful, tons of money can be wasted on bad channels. — Alex Li, Smule, Inc.

4. Opportunities

Sure, apps are everywhere. While it may seem as though all the cool kids have them, it doesn’t mean you should. Be sure to ask yourself, “Would it provide a better service to my customers or open up new opportunities?” If the answer isn’t a resounding “no,” then be sure to evaluate all aspects of it and companies to work with. Consultants love to take advantage of inexperience and an open wallet. — Jonah Harris, MeetMe, Inc.

5. Target Market

Before building a mobile app, step back. Why are we considering this? Who are the people that will use this app? What problems will this app solve for them? Why will they want to use this app? Assuming the answers are clear and you’re moving ahead, then ask, “Can we do this well?” There are lots of bad apps, but keeping your users in mind will ensure you build a good app. — Bryan Knight, ColorJar

6. Cost

Not everyone has the luxury of an in-house mobile app developer. Most small companies will end up outsourcing their app development to a third party. The costs can be huge, both in time invested designing the app and money. Take baby steps. First, make sure your website is fully responsive. Then deploy a small app that essentially wraps the website. If there is traction with the app, then jump in. — Ashley Saddul, Recruiter.com, Inc.

7. Necessity

You need to ask yourself if the demand for a mobile experience is there. Look at the data points you collect with your other online properties to determine if there’s a mobile segment you aren’t supporting. Is there enough feedback from your audience to tell you that a mobile experience is worth moving forward with? Avoid the buzz around “apps” unless you can quantify the demand. — Taylor Dondich, MaxCDN

8. Marketing

Even if you build it, they may not come. That is, unless you have an effective marketing plan in place prior to investing in development. Don’t build it unless you have a unique value proposition and a strong growth strategy. — Gurpreet Singh

Own a VR headset for just $100

For the past year, Samsung’s Gear VR headset has been the most approachable virtual reality offering you could buy.

Cross-posted from Business Insider

But now, the Gear VR headset is much improved — it’s 19% lighter than its predecessor — and it’s much cheaper, too. So instead of paying $US200+ for the headset, you only need to pay $US99 to own a Gear VR headset.

That’s a great deal, especially if this is your introduction to virtual reality.

Starting Tuesday, you can pre-order the $US99 Gear VR headset through Amazon, Best Buy, or Samsung. The device will ship in just over a week, starting November 20.

I just bought the Gear VR headset. Now what?

If you’re unsure about what you’d actually do with this headset, fear not!

Facebook-owned Oculus VR, which also made the technology that powers the Gear VR headset, also introduced “Oculus Arcade” on Tuesday.

Oculus Arcade comes with 20 classic games, from “Pac-Man” to “Sonic the Hedgehog,” which you can play in a virtual arcade within your Gear VR (or Oculus Rift) headset.

Oculus also offers several made-for-VR games like “Land’s End,” from ustwo Games, the same studio that created the excellent iPhone game “Monument Valley.” You’ll find tons of VR games waiting for you in the Oculus Store.

This is ‘Land’s End’ on Gear VR. It’s gorgeous.

You can also watch movies and videos in your Gear VR headset. You can literally watch everything on Netflix, including original series and documentaries, as well as any movie currently available in the “Oculus Video” catalogue, which has more than 70 feature films as well as access to thousands of videos from Vimeo and live broadcasts from Twitch.

You can also watch these videos with any friends who happen to own a Gear VR or Oculus Rift headset. With “Oculus Social,” you can choose an avatar, find your friends (via Facebook), and watch videos together — regardless of the distance between you and your friends.

If you’re looking for an escape, you can also take a look at Oculus’ great library of 200,000 photos from around the globe that offer 360º views, giving you a taste for how immersive virtual reality can feel.

Virtual reality for $US100? There’s gotta be a catch, right?

Unfortunately, yes, there is a catch to all of this.

Despite this incredible deal for a $US100 Oculus-powered VR headset, Gear VR only works with any Samsung phone released in 2015: that includes the Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge, Galaxy S6 Edge+, and Galaxy Note 5. If you don’t have one of those phones, you won’t be able to use the Gear VR headset.

If you don’t own one of the Samsung phones listed above, you’ll have to wait until early 2016 to buy an Oculus-powered VR headset. We don’t have any details about pricing or retail availibility for the first-generation Oculus Rift headset, but the company’s founder Palmer Luckey said it will cost more than $US350 — more than 3X the cost of Gear VR