A live demonstration of Blippar’s augmented reality technology in September at Label Expo, specifically a blipp for Wheaties, caught my attention. In fact, it was astonishing. The basic enabling technology, the Blippar app, is free to download and uses image recognition - or visual discovery - rather than a Quick Response code or barcode to activate the specific interactive, digital experience or blipp on any mobile or tablet device. What this means is that brand owners can use their existing assets - products, logos, packaging and more - to create dynamic content that can be changed on a regular basis or even per interaction.
The company has already created numerous blipps for consumer packaged goods companies including General Mills brand Trix, Pepsi and even Heinz ketchup. For the latter, a blipp of the ketchup bottle label brought a 3D animated recipe book to the device screen. The program attracted widespread consumer engagement, with daily competitions and offered downloadable content that was refreshed weekly. The campaign yielded more than 1,100,000 interactions and more than 386k unique visitors according to the most recent data.
That was yesterday so to speak, so what's next for tomorrow? The company has big plans for 2015, with a host of new campaigns in the pipeline for industry leading brands and an overarching aim to turn products into the new domain names, by overlaying them with digital content and bringing them to life. Blippar is also turning attention to other industries outside of advertising and marketing, including education and healthcare, where their technology offers huge potential.
While it’s impossible to keep up with technology advances across the digital realm, we did manage to catch up with Lisa Hu, VP and general manager Blippar, who answered our questions about this intriguing technology.
Summarize how the app works and what’s required by brand owners.
Hu: Blippar's proprietary image-recognition technology & platform allows brands to engage their target audience with rich, interactive digital content activated instantaneously from any products or packaging, via a mobile device. Users simply download and open the free Blippar app, hold their smartphone or tablet lens over any blippable product or package and watch as unique,meaningful, branded content springs to life right on their screen.
Brands that partner with Blippar have the opportunity to bring their packages to life for their consumers, instantly. By introducing a new form of digital engagement, we're giving brands the opportunity to take the brand experience beyond the sale, and reach their target audiences at multiple different touch points. Already many of the world's best-known brands in CPG, publishing and more are leveraging the incredible opportunities presented by our unique technology/platform and millions of products and packages around the world are already blippable.
Along with the blippable content itself, which could be anything from a logo, to a magazine page, or the actual product itself, we strongly encourage brands to feature a clear call to action on any blippable product or package, to educate the consumer about the experience and thereby to drive engagement numbers.
What’s exemplary of what has been done in packaging?
Hu: When brands invest well in their content and education on packages, in addition with other channels, you see the best and most engaging experiences, along with the highest ROI. Some recent examples include Lucky Charms, where the brand did an excellent job investing in the key areas for a solid gaming experience. Quaker's latest campaign features blippable packaging that allows users to snap a milk mustache selfie with brand mascot Larry. Whether shoppers are perusing the packaging in-stores or interacting after point-of-sale, we're making the most of these ubiquitous consumer touch points.
Hu: It's really limitless to what our platform can provide! Each Blippar campaign introduces a new way to engage a brands' audience. We work hand-in-hand with every brand to really understand their business and what they are trying to achieve, in order to create the optimal experience that truly resonates with their target audience, whether its an interactive video game, a series of exclusive recipes or the chance to share your selfie "with" Rihanna.
We're always continuing to seek more creative ways to engage consumers from a marketing and branding perspective, enhancing our technical capabilities, pushing the boundaries in design and embracing the possibilities presented by new devices such as wearables. It's also about scale, reaching millions of products, beyond a one-off campaign. We're also turning our attention to new verticals, including the healthcare and education industries. This is just a sample
Can it be used as a brand protection or authentication tool?
Hu: We give every brand the opportunity to manage what content is generated by blipping their products or packages. It is then in their hands to determine what experience is activated by blipping any of their branded content.
What’s the biggest hurdle to use?
Hu: Blippar's proficiency at creating and sustaining interaction is due in part to its extremely low barrier to entry. The free Blippar app is available on any smartphone and on Google Glass. Users across the globe can access branded, interactive content in seconds with the same effort it would take to snap a photo. There aren't any real hurdles if you invest well with the content and call-to-acton.
Is there a common misunderstanding brand owners that you can clarify?
Hu: Brands are continuing to understand the real value of the Blippar app and blipp experience itself for their consumers. With that, the brands and ad agencies are starting to realize that this isn't just about executing "augmented reality" technology for the sake of it, it is about providing a meaningful experience to their audience, and simply turning on their product/package/print to provide the content that their audience will pull. And not just as a one-time experience...an experience that can go on forever, anytime, anyplace.
Along those lines, all of our engagement is pull-based and entirely voluntary on the part of the end user, generating genuinely powerful interactions. This is a different mindset our clients are adopting, realizing that we are not another push based medium where e.g. demographics, audience size, etc. are key factors...this is a whole new medium that 100% of their audience (or any mobile user) can interact with. We're simply turning on all the physical touch points, with packaging being an integral one.