In the good old yesteryears, each time a new shop or company was set up; it was promoted by word-of-mouth. Soon print advertising, followed by TV commercials, took over widening the reach of product and services promotions.
When the internet revolution happened in the early nineties, advertisements could actually be viewed online, without any geographical barrier. Just when individuals thought promotions couldn’t get any more interactive, augmented reality (AR) comes in.
No one perhaps thought of progress as the difficulty to differentiate between the real and virtual world. AR technology has been gaining immense popularity in the gaming sector the world over and given the huge thrust in its development in recent times, further growth cannot be ruled out.
This is exactly where Wowsome steps in, a rapidly growing Indian startup which uses mobile AR to help brands engage with their consumers by offering them real-time, interactive visual content on their mobile devices. A mobile AR app for iOS and Android, Wowsome aims to transform a user’s interaction with his or her surroundings. Currently, this app allows users to add stickers to their photographs that in turn can add props or popular celebrity images. Alongside, it allows brands to create AR sector advertisements.
In AR advertising, the content pops up in an entertaining and informative manner, often taking the consumer by surprise. All this can be done online within a few minutes at wowsomeapp.com. Rather than interrupting the consumers, it provides relevant situation-based content. It also urges the consumer to share the information with their friends and family if they like.
"Consumers can get real-time information and elevate their experience with Wowsome. The augmented reality technology that we provide is a revolutionary advertising medium,” says Founder Vishal Reddy. The company is Co-founded by Karan Bhangay.
Currently, Wowsome is associated with over 50 brands, including L’oreal Paris India, OMEGA Watches, Apollo Hospitals, The Collective, Ballantines, Jaguar, and Budweiser among others. Interestingly, these big brands encourage their fans to download Wowsome to see their products convert from static images to dynamic products.
The way the app works
AR breaks the monotony and intelligently places the brand in the perspective of real world surroundings creating a human-brand-interface. An everyday print ad, for instance, can be enhanced with its related TVC, short video, quick links to social media websites, call-to-action (enquiry, buy, share), and deals (coupon codes and discounts). Add to this interactive, real-time, and virtually unlimited real estate to download on your smartphone screens. This enables the brand to lead their audience from offline to online mode with a hyper-immersive and hyper-targeted experience.
The founders feel that their product is the next thing in mass media advertising for brands across various sectors. With their app, they are currently serving a multitude of sectors, including media houses, real estate, luxury, retail, and the FMCG. The idea is to expand their client base and help brands get the benefits of AR medium.
Challenges and the future
Brand and marketing managers in India are comparatively less open to new media and are focused on immediate returns, feel the founders. There are, however, substantial advantages in operating in India, like 3G penetration in the tier I and II cities. There is a staggering smartphone user base of about 160 million currently and 220 million new smartphones are projected to be added by the end of 2015.
“Technology access today is global. There's enough talent in India in computer vision, machine learning and related technologies that are used in advanced visionary AR like Wowsome. A lot of the brands are aware of AR but there is a need for them to be motivated by the industry,” concludes Vishal.
The revenue generated by Wowsome is from payments by top brands to create and publish AR advertising campaigns.
Wowsome aims to be the ultimate service partner for AR campaigns and enrol over 200 brands by the end of 2015. The company also looks to capture one per cent of the advertising spend in India with a year-on-year minimum growth target of 30 per cent.