What’s Augmented Reality? And Other Mobile Topics

Don’t we already live in an augmented reality? Kind of, but our reality will get even more augmented said John Havens, EVP of social media at Porter Novelli, during this morning’s panel discussion on mobile marketing at the PRSA Digital Impact Conference.

According to Havens, “AR is the GPS of your life” that could possibly turn every landscape into a screen of information, promotions, and advertising. While he told the audience not to be scared, it seems like we’re voluntarily signing up for a life lived in The Matrix, which kind of rattles the nerves.

Much of what he discussed is in development or coming soon. And what we do have — AR apps that help with directions or translate languages, for instance — can be useful. The video above with an overview of AR was made by Havens and submitted to TED.

The other panelists — David Berkowitz, senior director of emerging media and innovation at 360i; John Puterbaugh, founder and CEO of Nellymoser; and moderator Peter Himler, founding principal of Flatiron Communcations and author of the blog The Flack — talked about things we’re a little more familiar with like 2D and QR codes, using social media on mobile devices, and how to incorporate mobile into your campaigns. Soon, more people will be accessing the Internet via their mobile devices than on a desktop Himler noted (a point that Dallas Lawrence, B-M’s chief digital strategist, also made via tweet from the Digital CMO Summit, also taking place today). So mobile will become a commonplace part of a campaign like Twitter and Facebook. Many retailers have already gotten on the QR tip, and Puterbaugh gave examples of how those codes can be scanned and shared, used to showcase video, and lead to e-commerce sites. In other words, if you haven’t beefed up your mobile know-how, don’t wait too much longer.

Before that group took the stage, Microsoft’s senior director of public and influencer relations Adam Sohn gave a keynote address, recapping the first two years of promoting and building the number of Bing users. Answering the question “Does the world need another search engine?,” Sohn detailed how Bing is a “decision engine,” a perception that they’ve managed to bring home to 31 percent of people involved in their research on that issue.

With that in mind, Sohn emphasized that people are using search engines not so much to find websites, but to help them complete a task. For instance, you’re not looking for an airline for the sake of learning more about the company. Chances are, you want to buy a ticket or do research on prices. That’s where search needs to go, and Bing hopes to take people there.

On the publicity side, Microsoft has worked with its firm Waggener Edstrom to identify influencers and conduct outreach to them, partnered with FarmVille and gained 400,000 new Facebook followers in nine hours, and learned when to sit back and let chaos run its course.

“If you want people to love your brand, they have to take it and make it their own,” he said.

He also noted that young brands can take chances. When Bing launched, a man also named Bing who was turning 100 years old, sent a letter to Microsoft, which spawned the idea for a documentary that went to Sundance.

A final tidbit: only one in four searches deliver successful results, Sohn said. Good reason to keep search in mind when you’re pulling together your campaigns.

The PRSA’s digital conference continues today and tomorrow.