Augmented reality has been used for years by for military and medical applications. Over the past six years, AR has started to appear in the creation of mobile apps and as a marketing tool for many large companies. This new technology brings about many questions, such as why are many consumers just starting to learn about these revolutionary marketing efforts? Also, since augmented reality has been around for years, why is it taking so long for companies to jump on this trend? Below is a list of the pros and cons for incorporating this not-so-new technology into your marketing strategy.

Augmented Reality Pros


  • 58% of US citizens own a smartphone. That means that 58% of Americans could be carrying your ad with them throughout the day. Augmented reality apps and advertisements give your consumer a reason to engage with your brand on a daily basis. Let’s say you decide to use “traditional” advertising methods, such as bus stop ads, billboards, and commercial displays, but going a step further and giving the consumer a task or a reason to engage, they most likely will, despite whether they like, or have a need for, your product. Whether you go the app route or follow in Pepsi’s footsteps and bypass the app altogether, you are guaranteed some interaction with the brand or product you are promoting.


  • When producing a larger-scale augmented reality display/performance, you are more likely to get business by word of mouth and going viral. Not everyone is going to be able to engage with the AR ad because of location, time, funding, or awareness, but many of these ads are so appealing that they are being “shared” through social media platforms and then, in turn, adding to the audience and pool of potential buyers. More “likes” and “shares” mean more business.


  • Though this advertising practice has been around for the past couple of years, not every brand has jumped on board. Utilizing this type of advertising, whether it’s a passing fad or not, has the ability to boost the company’s image and give the product the much-needed recognition it deserves.


  • If you are providing a decent-quality AR ad, chances are your audience will remember watching and/or engaging with it. It’s important to make the brand or product name prominent since most augmented reality ads do not provide a lot of product information.


  • In comparison to what some companies are spending on marketing already, simple forms of AR are relatively cheap. It seems that small and mid-sized businesses are under the impression that they couldn’t possibly afford the implementation of something as advanced as AR ads and marketing strategies. The fact is many businesses are already spending more on marketing than it would cost to execute AR methods. There are multiple platforms available to create smaller-scale augmented reality pages for free, including Layar, which also offers its ad-free Pro Pages starting at $60.

Augmented Reality Cons

Product Specific

  • Augmented reality advertisements are not for everyone. Some products require consumers to interact directly with the physical product before purchase, such as a wristwatch; while other products do not require this interaction in order to purchase, such as insurance. AR within ads has its perks, but it helps to have to have the right brand and/or product to be using it.


  • “Do you remember that really entertaining car advertisement?” “Yes I do, but I couldn’t tell you anything about its performance, safety ratings, mileage, handling, cost, or even what kind of car it was.” This type of advertisement is interesting in that typically the benefits and features of the product are not advertised. Instead, the consumer is given a certain image that the company believes will capture and keep the audience’s attention.


  • The Pepsi Max bus stop is a great example of an augmented reality ad that has no call to action. This bus stop does not encourage its visitors to drink Pepsi Max and many of the visitors were not aware it was an ad at all since it was not in the direct line of sight. These consumers were not asked to visit a website or a store and they were not given a code to redeem a prize. The consumers simply interacted with the ad. This can be good but it can also be detrimental to the success of the ad.

Limited Participation

  • Though over half of the US population owns a smartphone, there are still a large number of people that do not. Augmented reality ads that require consumers to use a smartphone or an app are already alienating half of their potential customer base. Let’s say only people with smartphones see your ad, who says they have the time to download or open your app and hold it up to a movie poster just to watch a trailer? With how fast the world is moving today, many people will not want to take the time to complete this often pointless or unrewarding, task.

Ultimately, the decision to integrate augmented reality practices into a marketing strategy is up to the marketer. If the benefits outweigh the limitations then implementing these new techniques might be worthwhile.

Also published on Medium.