This article was updated in July 2021.
With the digital landscape evolving every day, marketers have more than just social media to keep up with. More businesses are looking for ways to integrate current and emerging technologies—such as Augmented Reality (AR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI)—to enable them to create highly intuitive customer experiences and stay in touch with their audiences.
In this article, we’ll discuss the differences between AR and AI technology, and explore the pros and cons of each in the field of marketing. Then we’ll offer advice on how to determine which one will be most useful to your efforts. Let’s get to it!
The Difference Between Augmented Reality (AR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
The current generation increasingly prefers meaningful personal experiences to material belongings. For this demographic, fulfillment isn’t about possessions or career status, but creating and sharing memories. This has led to the rise of experiential marketing.
AI and AR are two technologies that can help you create unique and truly memorable experiences for your audience. However, each has its own singular qualities. Let’s take a look at their strong points, as well as how they differ.
AR blends real (or physical) and digital environments. Here, computer-generated objects co-exist and interact with the real world. Cameras, gyroscopes, accelerometers, GPS, and more come together to form a virtual representation that is overlaid on the physical world.
A very popular example of a successful AR application is the mobile app Pokémon Go. The social media platform Snapchat is also known for its additive AR filters. In both cases, there are strong visual and interactive elements that create truly immersive experiences.
On the other hand, AI refers to the use of algorithms and statistical models to perform tasks without explicit instructions. It typically combines machine and deep learning, which pick up on patterns and correlations in their training data.
For example, say you’ve collected a lot of data on your audience’s buying habits. You could give that information to an AI model so it can make predictions about their future behavior and enable you to suggest relevant recommendations to your customers based on their interests.
Some familiar examples of AI implementations might include predictive keyboards and intelligent photo organizers. Many chatbots also use this technology to provide accurate and relevant information to users.
Is Augmented Reality Part of Artificial Intelligence?
That said, is augmented reality part of artificial intelligence? The short answer is no. In reality they’re completely different technologies and, while tangentially related, they’re actually quite distinct. Overall the technologies can complement each other and one day AI models may function as the engine of AR technology.
The Pros and Cons of Augmented Reality & Artificial Intelligence in Marketing
There are two sides to every coin, and technology is no different, regardless of how powerful or useful it is. Let’s take a look at some advantages of AR and AI in marketing, as well as a few drawbacks.
You can probably agree at this point that AI and AR technologies can create more engaging user experiences. Since AI learns from every interaction it has with your customers, it can continually improve and increase its accuracy. The personalization this will afford can lead to higher conversion rates.
Before the advent of AI, you would have had to sift through all the data you collected manually or using less powerful and intelligent tools. However, you can now make more efficient use of the analytics you accumulate in relation to customer habits.
On the other hand, AR encourages a high level of social interactivity. This can elicit positive associations with your brand. However, as we’ve alluded to, each of these technologies has its cons.
For example, not all customers want to talk to chatbots, which can feel cold compared to genuine human responses. Additionally, algorithms can go wrong if they don’t have access to adequate data, and have not been tested thoroughly.
Not to mention, AI still needs humans to function and still has a lot of room for improvement. Finally, AR technology can be expensive and its use can raise legal issues. For example, capturing users’ surrounding environments could lead to invasions of privacy.
What Are the Disadvantages of Augmented Reality? What About Artificial Intelligence?
Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence technology are both quite expensive compared to other tools and technologies. The price of these technologies remains a deterrent for many businesses, but is expected to get cheaper as the technology advances and becomes more common.
In addition to cost, Augmented Reality can cause ocular distress if used too long. This is one advantage of Artificial Intelligence: no complicated user interfaces and no risk of damaging your eyesight.
How to Decide Whether You Should Focus Your Efforts on AR or AI (or Both)
As we’ve already seen, AI and AR have strong selling points, which combined, can enhance customer experiences through personalization and immersive interactions. That said, it can be challenging to decide which to focus on. Let’s take a look at a few campaign examples that might show you what each technology can bring to the table.
One area where AI can come in handy is enabling publishing consistency through automated content tools. The Washington Post experimented with automated storytelling during the Olympics using a bot that transformed data from a website into short articles.
Integrating AI into your marketing campaigns can also help you increase lead generation via targeted ads, improve customer service to boost retention rates, and personalize user experiences to build brand loyalty.
When it comes to AR, Northern Lightning has implemented it successfully to showcase its entire furniture collection in 3D augmented reality. Its app enables customers to try out lamps from the comfort of their homes before committing to buying. Users can also learn more about the products this way.
This keeps them more engaged and decreases the number of physical samples required, thereby reducing costs. In a nutshell, integrating AR into your business can help you deepen existing customer relationships, as well as generate more leads through gamification.
Your choice between AI and AR technology (or both) effectively depends on your goals and target audience. Having learned about what each can help you achieve, you’ll then need to match them to your needs to decide what the best fit is.
A basic understanding of emerging technologies such as AI and AR can come in handy when you’re evaluating their relevance to your brand’s voice and target audience. It can also enable you to sell their integration to appropriate stakeholders. However, it can be challenging to decide which one to focus on. You’ll need to consider their pros and cons to determine which aligns more closely with your goals.
Do you think you should focus on AR, AI, or both in your marketing strategies? Let us know in the comments section below!