When examining evolutions in local commerce, AR continues to bubble up (along with AI… a related but different story). For example, Google Lens helps users navigate and contextualize their surroundings by offering informational overlays on the physical world – everything from statues to storefronts.
That gets into the “real-world metaverse,” which was the topic of Localogy’s Place Conference in September. And though the M-word is deservedly becoming passe as a tech buzzword, this real-world flavor of the metaverse has potentially meaningful and practical local commerce endpoints.
Elsewhere under this same umbrella is virtual try-ons. These are similarly about adding digital dimension to the real world to help consumer buying decisions. Popularized by Snap Lenses – everything from furniture to footwear – it likewise has real potential and breadth of applicability in local commerce.
The latest company to feel out this opportunity is Toyota. In partnership with Yahoo, the auto manufacturer has created an AR experience to visualize its cars in 3D. More specifically, the car model being spotlighted is the 2023 Toyota Crown, with other models to follow depending on traction.
The “Says So Much” campaign lets users activate their smartphone cameras to drop a car model in their immediate space for a 360-degree virtual tour. The tour includes the sedan’s exterior, interior, and “educational hotspots” anchored to various parts of the car to activate informational sequences.
Speaking of “anchored” the AR lens makes use of positional tracking so that users can do things like walk around the car or sit in the driver’s seat while it remains in place. This basic AR functionality is critical to maintaining the illusion that the car is there in front of you as you move around it.
From the user’s perspective, they can activate the AR experience through QR codes that are being distributed in all campaign destinations. Those destinations include digital out-of-home screens, online banners, and connected TV ads. All of this distribution and creative is what Yahoo brings to the table.
But among all these campaign elements, the QR code activation is the most critical. As AR proponents have learned over the past few years, it has to be dead simple and frictionless. AR already faces headwinds in consumers’ comfort levels. So raising additional friction makes any campaign DOA.
So how do QR codes help make AR more inviting? In short, they bolt AR to something familiar. Most mobile users these days know what to do when they see a QR code. Additionally, this campaign utilizes web AR – a modality that operates right within the mobile browser, as opposed to specific apps.
That last part is key, as it makes AR widely compatible. Web AR has grown a great deal in the AR world over the past few years in both capability (matching that of native AR functionality) and the realization from marketers that it prevents users from having to stop to download an app… again, friction.
Further boosting consumer comfort and potential adoption are other macro factors. For example, AR marketing benefits from Covid-accelerated comfort levels with using digital tools to buy physical products. That especially goes for high-ticket items like cars, a la Carvana’s rise during the pandemic.
Yahoo even backs this up with the claim that 80 percent of car shoppers are open to purchasing their next car online. That broader digital acclimation opens the door for additional tools to make the online/mobile experience more dimensional and IRL-like. And that’s exactly what AR offers.
Additionally, Yahoo is offering Toyota elevated levels of analytics. Given the highly-dimensional aspects of the experience itself, it can ingest engagement data like users’ dwell time in a given part of the virtual tour. That level of analytics is far better than any manufacturer and dealer can expect on a car lot.