Technology can be intrusive when you’re trying to live a real life in the real world. As new tools such as augmented reality continue to blur the line between the physical world and the digital one, the distractions of multiple mediums and devices offer opportunities as well as challenges for marketers.
Here are a few of our favorite examples of how some creative advertisers and marketers are proactively bridging the virtual-physical gap with interactive campaigns.

The Future is Augmented

Pokémon Go is the most recent and best-known incursion of digital technology into the physical world. We know, we know—the game has been endlessly dissected and you’ve got “catch ‘em all” fatigue. What’s important to remember, however, is that the app has turned augmented reality (AR) into a user-friendly, mainstream technology for consumers and, increasingly, marketers.
Snapchat seems eager to build on what Pokémon has begun. The platform recently filed a patent application for “Object Recognition Based Photo Filters.” Some believe the patent shows Snapchat’s desire to up its advertising game by tracking exactly where its users are and what they are photographing—particularly if those objects are items users purchased. A consumer who snaps their morning latte art may soon see ads pop up for a good deal on coffee from a nearby vendor. Interactive, personalized ads that are location-specific and tied to a popular social platform could revolutionize how marketers engage with audiences.

A Focused Interaction

Merging the digital and physical worlds isn’t always about distracting a consumer from something else they were snapping, reading, or watching. Sometimes, interactive media actually forces the audience to pause and savor an experience.
A perfect example: Axe, a company best known for its body spray products, launched a musical campaign to quiet the bustling city of Istanbul. The company enlisted musicians to perform free concerts behind the soundproof glass of a music studio and invited people strolling by to connect to Axe’s Wi-Fi, listen on their smart phones, and shut off their social media accounts. An astonishing 6 million people participated in the campaign, and the campaign became Turkey’s most-tweeted outdoor project.
The U.K has produced several equally buzzworthy campaigns that combine real-world engagement with digital interaction, from bus stops that digitally augment reality to playable cardboard pizza delivery boxes that look like DJ booths, connect to the music on a customer’s smartphone via Bluetooth, and allow the user to scratch, rewind, and crossfade songs. 

Print Meets Digital

Print advertising is a tough business in the digital age. In the U.S., digital ad spending is projected to reach $72 billion in 2016, compared to $29.4 billion on newspapers and consumer magazines. Modern Media, one of China’s largest non-government-controlled magazine publishers, reported a 23 percent decline in print ad revenue in August 2016. Nonetheless, advertisers are using print ads as a jumping off point to digital innovation.
Swedish furniture manufacturer IKEA created an app that allows customers to gauge how a piece of furniture will fit in their home. When customers place IKEA’s print catalogue on the floor, the app uses the camera feature to “see” the catalog and gauge the size of the rest of the room. Using augmented reality, the camera feature then shows how specific furniture would look in that specific space.
Porsche, meanwhile, has managed to develop a print ad that’s also a hologram. In select issues of Fast Company, readers found a sheet of plastic that folded up into a cone-shaped prism. When placed atop an online Porsche video playing on a tablet, a hologram car came to life inside the prism. Porsche’s tagline for this model is “Ever ahead,” and their interactive marketing campaign is just that.
Merging physical and digital advertising allows marketers to reach consumers at multiple points in their day-to-day experience, raising the odds of fostering a unique relationship and, hopefully, brand loyalty. The future of advertising promises to be hyper-personalized and increasingly imbued with both virtual and real tactility. The line between real and digital marketing is quickly becoming an illusion in itself.