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Augmented Reality: Supercharging consumer attention

Published by

Claudia Mastromauro, VP of Sales, Strategy & Operations, UK, Aryel

Global attention spans are rapidly dropping, with the average attention on a screen falling from two and a half minutes in 2004 to 47 seconds in 2023.

The average internet user is continuously bombarded with a steady stream of content, ads, and notifications, so it’s unsurprising that consumers struggle to focus on a single piece of content before being distracted by another appearing. Concerningly, things aren’t looking any better for the next generations of consumers; Gen Z has been reported to concentrate on an ad for merely one second. 

The declining attention spans of consumers poses huge challenges for marketers because, despite the fact it is dwindling, attention drives outcomes for advertisers. 

Marketers need to think creatively about how they can combat this problem — or risk being overshadowed by competitors who can successfully engage their audiences. Making the most memorable impression as quickly as possible will not only deliver impactful experiences for consumers, but also allow marketers to meet campaign KPIs. 

Augmented reality takes attention to another level

Augmented reality (AR) is unlocking new ways for consumers to pay attention to ads and branded content by integrating elements of immersion, interactivity, and effortless participation; making  once mere online media meaningful.

Research carried out by Snap has shown that branded AR experiences elicit four times more attention than benchmark levels for online ads, estimating that marketers can generate the same level of attention as 14-20 conventional ads with a single AR ad. 

Moreover, immersive experiences have been proven to promote the creation of stronger memories compared to non-immersive experiences — with 70% more information being encoded into memory from AR tasks than non-AR tasks. In fact, Snap found that brand recall was 1.3x higher in consumers who interacted with a brand through AR versus on other channels. And so marketers providing captivating and valuable experiences using AR can benefit from leaving a more lasting impression on their customers. 

Similarly, the interactive components of AR experiences — allowing users to move, scale, and actively engage with 3D objects — incite consumers to spend more time interacting with brands. A study by Meta found that consumers spent upwards of 28 seconds engaging with AR content, whereas the average view time of video content on Facebook is 10 seconds; showing the power of AR at increasing ad dwell time.

AR experiences can also come to life directly within banner ads, avoiding the need for external clicks by the user, which streamlines the customer experience, enhances engagement, and ensures that valuable online traffic is retained.

These perks can translate into tangible outcomes for marketers, as shown in a study conducted by Shopify where retailers incorporating 3D AR content into their website generated 94% higher conversion rates than their traditional 2D counterparts. 

Augmented reality can enhance existing content

A key benefit of AR experiences is that they don't need to be separate from a brand’s main media. Instead, these experiences can build on top of existing content and enhance it to be more compelling and informative.

Virtual try-ons are a great example of this. 3D visualisations of products in sectors such as fashion and retail enable consumers to see how products fit and look on them using their camera. This allows users to shop with more confidence, knowing which products, colours, or sizes suit them best, reducing purchase hesitation or chances of returns — which costs retailers in the U.S. over $800 billion per year — and increasing conversions.

Similar to virtual try-ons, AR can bring consumer goods to life by allowing users to visualise how a product looks in 3D within their chosen environments. For example, a furniture retailer providing 3D product visualisations would enable their customers to see how a sofa would fit and look in their homes before making a purchase, going above and beyond mere images and videos. 

Brands can also incorporate AR mini-games directly within ads, merging entertainment and brand interaction. In this way, user retention can be elevated while providing more dynamic, engaging customer experiences. AR can also add an element of gamification to branded quizzes and surveys, enabling marketers to collect valuable zero-party data in creative ways.

With consumers being exposed to an overabundance of content, AR ads and branded media can help marketers cut through the noise. Boosting valuable user attention, increasing brand recall, impactfully delivering meaningful customer experiences, and driving elevated ROI within marketing campaigns are just several of the benefits associated with this creative medium. 

And AR is set to have a prosperous future, with its global market value projected to reach beyond $1 trillion by 2030. Early adopters of this technology will reap the most benefits for their brand, customers, and stakeholders, by embracing consumer-centric innovation. 

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