Claudia Mastromauro
Mar 9, 2024

Apple Vision Pro is making headlines, but may be a premature choice for brands

With an eye-watering price tag, it's easy for advertisers to be dismissive of Apple Vision Pro as an ad platform. But extended reality has the future potential to reach consumers in ways other channels can’t reach.

Apple Vision Pro is making headlines, but may be a premature choice for brands

Claudia Mastromauro, VP of Sales, Strategy & Operations, UK at Aryel, argues that harnessing this tech will have to be more than a tactical decision for brands, driven by novelty. Instead, brands need to leverage tech like XR in a way that creates a bridge between the brand's message and the consumer's daily life.

Consumers have spoken — they’re demanding immersive experiences that resonate with their interests and enrich their journeys meaningfully. And those brands who pay attention are in line to benefit. Over half of consumers (57%) say they are more likely to purchase from brands that offer immersive experiences, and 64% of which believe their loyalty to a brand increases if immersive experiences are incorporated into the shopping journey. 

The industry-wide shift towards immersive brand experiences has led to a boom in Extended Reality (XR) — an umbrella term for immersive technologies including Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality (MR) — with the global XR market projected to reach over a trillion dollars in value by 2030. This growth has captured the attention of major technology companies, and driven the development of an increasing number of XR technologies, the most recent being the Apple Vision Pro — a standalone XR headset.

For brands focused on distinguishing themselves as pioneers in their industry, Apple's foray into the XR headset market opens up extraordinary avenues for innovation. XR headsets promise to revolutionise immersive experiences and establish new benchmarks for user engagement. However, they also come with potential barriers. For consumers, the high price point, as well as practical limitations including weight, convenience, and ease of accessibility are factors to consider. While for brands, there’s a heavy lift required to understand the possibilities to reach the currently limited audience due to availability and the high price point. 

These barriers, however, are not associated with web-based AR technologies that allow for AR functionality directly within web browsers and mobile devices without the need for additional equipment. 

Given this, how can brands effectively navigate the complex, continually developing XR landscape, and choose the tech that is right for them, to deliver the most impactful and innovative customer experiences, while improving marketing performance and achieving business KPIs?

The reality of XR headsets

The potential for brands to engage with consumers through XR headsets is immense — especially when approached with a content-first strategy.

Developing content-first branded experiences accessible via XR headsets, that are not only captivating but also add value to the consumer experience, is more than a tactical decision — it's a strategic imperative. However, this approach must begin with a thorough understanding of the target audience's needs, preferences, and interests; based on the demographics likely to engage with XR headsets in the first place.

Moreover, exploring XR headsets for advertising doesn't preclude the use of alternative or complementary tactics, allowing marketers to incorporate them in addition to their existing media. For brands aiming to position themselves as leaders in innovation and customer engagement, experimenting with XR layers of content offers a unique opportunity to pioneer new forms of storytelling and interaction that enhance engagement and memorability, while fostering stronger brand affinity and consumer-brand relationships. 

However, XR headsets such as the Apple Vision Pro still require consumers to invest in an additional, costly device — 40% of consumers want low-cost options for purchasing an XR headset — that also sits heavy on the head and can only be used in certain circumstances. Consequently, brands that tailor their immersive content exclusively to XR headsets risk alienating their customers who don’t want to invest in these devices, and potentially wasting the significant upfront costs required to develop, test, and maintain content specifically for XR headsets. 

Web-based AR is more realistic today

For brands that want to broaden their reach beyond the possibly niche audience of XR headset users, while still tapping into the immersive capabilities offered by recent technological advancements, web-based AR advertising offers a more accessible, scalable, and immediate solution. 

Web-based AR content can be accessed by consumers without any special applications — merely using users’ cameras to superimpose digital content onto the physical world — and quickly created and implemented onto existing websites and marketing campaigns by advertisers. Additionally, they can be used to seamlessly gather first-party insights, using consumers’ own devices, which can then be harnessed to inform more effective and personalised subsequent campaigns.

Advertising campaigns utilising web-based AR content are rapidly gaining traction, driven by their remarkable ability to generate four times more attention and 1.3 times more brand recall than benchmark levels for online ads, while improving conversion rates by up to 94%. In addition, they can also be implemented on top of existing branded media, adding an new immersive layer to marketing campaigns.

With over 60% of the ad industry interested in exploring AR in the next 1-2 years, the shift towards web-based AR advertising is a strategic move by brands to meet consumers in their familiar digital landscapes, offering experiences that are both captivating, contextually relevant, and easily accessible. As we continue to witness the evolution of consumer interaction with digital content — nearly 80% of 18-25 year olds have used AR — the momentum behind web-based AR advertising signals a transformative period in marketing, where the lines between the physical and digital worlds blur, creating unprecedented opportunities for brand-consumer connections.

While XR headsets such as the Apple Vision Pro advance the advertising industry closer to embracing immersive Rich Media formats, and shouldn’t be completely discounted, web-based AR offers a more accessible, immediate, and scalable format to reach wider audiences effectively. Web-based AR content allows consumers to use mobile phones and web browsers to bridge the physical and digital world and reap unique benefits without relying on heavy and expensive headsets, creatively enhancing the customer experience rather than interrupting it, resulting in more meaningful consumer relationships and elevated brand awareness.

Claudia Mastromauro is VP of Sales, Strategy and Operations, UK at Aryel

Performance Marketing World

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