Is Augmented Reality the Future of Direct Mail?

augmented reality

Here at NextPage we are constantly looking for ways for our customers to get more from their direct mail campaigns.  Whether it’s a new textured stock or coating, adding an IP Targeting or Informed Delivery campaign, or using a Shape-Cut envelope.  A relatively new development in direct mail enhancement that is gaining significant traction is augmented reality.

If you don’t know what augmented reality is, it’s basically taking a real-world environment, and overlaying it with digital or computer-generated elements using an electronic display. The most common forms of AR devices include head-mounted displays in the form of a helmet or harness, but can also be seen through eyeglasses and on hand-held devices like smartphones. Pokémon Go is one of the most well-known examples of augmented reality using a hand-held device.

So what about direct mail?  RealityBLU, an augmented reality platform provider, showcased their BLUairspace platform at PRINT18 in Chicago last month. Hoping to bridge the gap between physical and digital experiences, BLUairspace allows you to add content such as rich media, charts and graphs, coupons and activation buttons to direct mail by using their delivery platform and a BLUairspace app. Electronics company Ricoh, also appearing at PRINT18, has a similar product called Clickable Paper that uses augmented reality and an app to enhance the print experience.  Clickable Paper is similar to QR Codes, in that they both require the user to snap an image on their smartphone or tablet to access the media. But unlike QR codes, Clickable Paper doesn’t require a code to scan, just the printed image.

The main problem with the widespread acceptance of AR as a marketing tool is the need for each platform to have its own app to view content. Direct mail recipients don’t want to have to download a new app or purchase additional hardware to see every new AR content piece that comes their way. But given that the technology being used today creates such incredible and valuable AR experiences,one can hope that there will be a more universal app developed in the near future. The safe bet is augmented reality is here to stay and will continue to help bolster the engagement of direct mail.