10 Use Cases of Augmented Reality and Print

Digital technology has had a huge impact on how we consume and deliver media over the past decade. As a consequence, digital advertising spends in India is expected to increase by 30% in 2018 according to a report by GroupM. Whereas print advertising spends is estimated to witness a modest increase of 4%. What does this mean for the future of print? Thankfully, augmented reality (AR) creates opportunities for print publicists and advertisers to adapt by bridging the gap between the digital and the physical.

Augmented reality defined:

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality (AR) is an interactive experience of a real-world environment whereby the objects that reside in the real-world are “augmented” by computer-generated perceptual information, sometimes across multiple sensory modalities, including visual, auditory, haptic, somatosensory, and olfactory.

AR has been around for a while now, but just as the iPhone made smartphones mainstream, Pokemon GO, one of the most revolutionary games employing augmented reality which officially released in

July 2016 and received an India launch on December 13, 2016, has done the same thing for AR. This has been a boon for retail businesses and restaurants in terms of generating foot traffic. It has been lucrative for businesses with the foresight to embrace the current trend.

Imagine for one moment that as an AR game such as Pokemon GO allowed retailers to offer special bonuses to their patrons in the form of vouchers for in-app purchases. Another possibility would be to use print materials to enhance the experience of game, as some physical toys and games are beginning to do with unique items such as hidden maps or keys accessed when your phone or tablet camera sees a special printed code or icon.

Print when married to AR can create even more user participation and give developers more creative freedom to expand their games and generate user interest. Today, QR codes are being used (more so overseas and in the United States) to create augmented experiences for users

Read on to discover how AR can create differentiated, immersive and impactful experiences for print.

1. Bring products to life from print

Print Augmented Reality

To commit to making a purchase, consumers seek as much information about a product as possible. In-store, consumers can interact with, try-on or explore a product to fulfill this need, but what about when out-of-store? Augmented reality creates interactive and engaging experiences that bring a product to life, straight from a print ad, catalogue or any printed material.

For example, when promoting a new car very little compares to offering consumers the chance to sit in it and take it for a test drive. But Porsche’s print campaign let readers sit in the driver’s seat of its new car. It let them explore every angle of its interior in 360º, straight from scanning the print ad.

Rolex enhanced its print ads with a virtual try-on experience for its new line of watches. Readers could virtually try-on the new models and scroll to see different styles. This type of AR experience is particularly effective in fashion and beauty. Many consumers here rely on trying a product on before making a purchase. It could also reduce the chances of a product being returned.

2. Turn print into a sales channel

More and more retailers are moving towards an omnichannel sales strategy. And research suggests that this is a powerful move. 73% of consumers use multiple channels when shopping. AR can strengthen print as a sales channel by letting consumers scan-to-purchase directly from the page.

Max Factor turned its print campaign into a powerful source of sales with the use of AR. Consumers could scan the print ads to browse Max Factor’s lipstick range. They can receive recommendations on their perfect shade and watch tutorials. These engaging and informative experiences were accompanied by the option to “Buy Now”. Enabling consumers to place an order straight from print.

3. Enhance the reader experience with digital content


augmented reality

Augmented reality creates unlimited opportunities to enhance print with a range of unlockable digital content, be that new content or content you have created before, including videos, competitions, games and more. This is a powerful way of boosting the value of magazines, books or any reading material. It helps in creating memorable and unique reader experiences.

For example, famous waxwork museum Madame Tussauds in London enhanced its souvenir guidebooks with a range of entertaining features. Readers could scan the pages to bring characters like Ironman to life. They can find their closest celebrity match. Also, unlock videos of how the waxworks are made, and more.

These are just some of the ways AR can create powerful and unique opportunities to drive brand engagement, purchase intention, sales opportunities and ultimately, enjoyable and memorable experiences, straight from print. By using AR technology, many companies are again successfully using print media. They are doing so to create an immersive and engaging interaction with their customers.

AR is allowing content to not be held prisoner to paper and screens. Instead, augmented reality technology is leading to more immersive marketing campaigns from forward-thinking brands.

These 10 use cases are among many others who are using AR to bring new life to their print marketing campaigns.

1. IKEA’s Interactive Catalog

print catalogue

IKEA’s annual catalogue got an upgrade with the IKEA Catalogue app, which allows customers to see how 400+ IKEA product fit into their home. The mobile app allows shoppers to scan pages and see how furniture would look in their own rooms.

2. The New Yorker Magazine


New Yorker

The New Yorker is a publication known for its articles and poems, ranging from the deep and creative to the wacky and hilarious. Online access to this, and other popular print publications, was seemingly signaling the decline of customer patronage of the printed magazine.

However, The New Yorker made print fun and interesting once more by making the front and back covers of their printed publication come to life through the camera of a smartphone or tablet. Their idea stemmed from the concept of human imagination that comes into focus when looking at a drawing or photo, imagining what it would like to exist and be right there in the art. AR helped The New Yorker engage their readers in a new way. Allowing the readers to experience the cover art of the publication as if they were there. The campaign undoubtedly had indirect, positive effects, building a great deal of conversation and shares across the internet.

3. Vespa Magazine Ad


Vespa Magazine Ad Print

Vespa, a popular Italian scooter company, also livened up their printed magazine ads using AR to help create a more customized and personalized experience for the reader than simply looking at pictures in the ad. Instead, the reader can scan the ad through an app on their smartphone or tablet. They can build their own custom scooter from all the options available. They can also include colors, styles, and accessories. The app also pops out GPS directions to the nearest Vespa location if the customer indicates interest in purchasing the scooter they have created.

4. Quiver’s Coloring Books

Qviver coloring books

A creative aspin on another trendy item, the Quiver app brings colouring pages to life. Customers can print off colouring pages from the Quiver website, colour in the illustrations. They can use the app to see and interact with their creations in 3D.

5. Absolut Vodka Bottle

Vodka brand Absolut created a special campaign using an app and printed neckhangers around their bottles – consumers were able to scan the tags to see an interactive tour of the small Swedish Village where the vodka is made.

6. iGreet’s Greeting Cards


Greeting card print

A combination of traditional pen and paper greeting cards and the modern day e-card, card company iGreet uses an app to bring their cards to life. Recipients can pull out their phone and use the iGreet app to view an animated version of their card.

7. Starbucks Cup Magic

AR with Printed mugs

Starbucks released an AR app during the holiday season in 2011 that allowed customers to view a cute series of animations when scanning their coffee cups. AR took the brand’s iconic red holiday cups to another level, allowing for more interaction with their customers.

8. Volkswagen’s new Beetle billboard


Volkwagen, a German car mogul, recently incorporated AR capabilities into their print marketing in a huge way: billboards. Advertising the new Beetle, Volkswagen put up billboards in Canada encouraging people to download their new AR-powered app. Once a customer has the AR app, they point it at the billboard. They can watch the new Beetle burst out of the billboard through their phone screen.

9. Lynx’s fallen angel

Lynx (Axe in the U.S.) is a cutting edge men’s deodorant and fragrance company known for their saucy ads and marketing. Lynx used AR to make their railway print ads in London more interactive and fun. They did so by giving people the opportunity to pose with falling (virtual) angels.

Using an AR app on their smartphone or tablet, people pointed their camera at the ad in the train stations, and an interactive angel appeared on the screen. The campaign spread by word of mouth. This made the Lynx brand much more memorable and top-of-mind, compared to before the innovative marketing ploy.

10. Disney’s Times Square billboard

Disney, the creator of magical children’s movies and theme parks, also implemented a large scale AR print marketing campaign in the middle of Times Square in New York City. Similar to the Linx installation, Disney Parks put up a billboard that came to life with character interactions.

People stood on a marked circle, and an AR app was used to project characters onto a big screen. People could interact with these characters by dancing or dueling, for all to watch in Times Square.

We are seeing a paradigm shift right before our eyes. This has wide implications for many industries, including print, web and especially brick and mortar businesses. Many marketers may have thought print marketing campaigns were fizzling out against the modern, digital competition. However, print ads can still be highly effective and interactive when paired with an AR-powered app. If nothing else we should anticipate more businesses taking AR seriously over the next few years. Also That could dramatically change their approach in marketing.


By some estimates, the total value of the AR market is expected to reach $100 billion by 2020. That’s because AR apps, headsets, and smart glasses hold the promise to add value to virtually every industry from retail to industrial manufacturing. AR is already showing potential to solve some of the biggest problems and pain points. We likely won’t have to wait until 2020 for AR to make a big impact across the board.

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