Enhance the Fan Experience With Augmented Reality

How sports and entertainment organizations can create new immersive opportunities to engage with customers

More and more people are exploring augmented reality (AR). According to a study by eMarketer and Insider Intelligence, the number of AR users in the U.S. is projected to hit 97.1 million this year, and U.S. spend on mobile advertising will also rise over the next two years, reaching $235.67 billion by 2025.

The augmented reality market is expected to reach over $97 billion by 2028, with gaming and media/entertainment industries leading the way, as AR is seen as playing a vital role in providing real-time immersive experiences according to Fortune Business Insights.

This surge in AR usage presents a massive opportunity for sports and entertainment organizations to connect with fans in new and innovative ways. With AR, fans can experience live events in a new light, from interacting with performers in real time to accessing behind-the-scenes content. By leveraging AR technology, organizations can create a more immersive and engaging experience for fans, increasing brand awareness and driving engagement.

Bring your fans to the action

AR allows you to engage fans both in-person and at home, maximizing the number of touchpoints people have with your brand.

One example of this is an AR activation built by Trigger XR in partnership with Pepsi and Verizon for the 2022 Super Bowl Halftime Show. The immersive 360º web-based augmented reality (WebAR) portal experience was accessible through the Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime App and allowed fans to be digitally transported into SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles to watch Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar perform live. This allowed football fans to toggle between three different views—one on each sideline and a director’s cut—and included a curated feed of the main stage.

Powered by 8th Wall’s World Effects technology, this WebAR experience gave fans a closer look at the fast-paced Pepsi Super Bowl XLVII Halftime Show wherever they were. As the experience was web-based, it was able to be easily integrated into the existing Super Bowl app.

This experience led to the app earning the No. 3 spot on the Apple app store as well as receiving 3 billion impressions from 500,000 fans. Fans who accessed the AR portal stayed in the experience for 90% of the length of the halftime show.

Increase fan engagement

To celebrate the L.A. Dodgers World Series win in 2020, AB InBev-owned brand Golden Road Brewing worked with WebAR agency Aircards to deliver a unique branded experience using 8th Wall’s Face Effects technology. The experience, which was delivered across both digital and print channels, enabled fans to celebrate the win, drink a virtual can of Dodgers Blonde Ale and trigger falling L.A. Dodgers logo confetti. Fans also had the option to take a photo or video of themselves celebrating with the filter and share it on social media.

Dodgers fans could also tap to redeem a rebate coupon, which activated a custom map integration to show their nearest physical store location to purchase the Dodgers Blonde Ale. This led to fans engaging with the experience for 1:28 on average as well as an 18% clickthrough rate of the rebate found in-experience.

By taking advantage of the user’s face and putting them at the center of the story, this AR experience was able to create a memorable experience, excite users and drive them to purchase Golden Road Brewing products.

Create unforgettable experiences

AR can help you enhance the fan experience by leveraging the world around you as a canvas for your branded content.

For the Guns N’ Roses concert in Bogota, Colombia, Johnnie Walker and Diageo partnered with Aircards to develop an AR Lightshow experience to create a memorable brand experience for fans using 8th Wall technology.

Activated from QR codes distributed throughout the stadium, the experience allowed fans to enhance the concert experience by placing the AR content in the world around them. Users could then customize the lightshow and share the experience with friends and family by using the capture and share capabilities. As an added bonus, fans also could claim a unique coupon code for a Johnnie Walker Red Label that they could redeem at select online retailers.

Another way brands can create unforgettable experiences is by using AR technology to augment both the sky and ground together. An example of this is an event organizer for a music festival creating an AR experience that transforms the sky above the festival grounds into a magical, animated display that highlights key performers.

Or, for a football game, the NFL can highlight each touchdown a player makes by having a hologram of the player doing their signature move on the field and then having a football shoot across the sky. The use of this technology allows fans to engage with their favorite teams or artists in a new way that is not distracting from the performance or game itself.

Drive always-on loyalty

Sports and entertainment organizations also can leverage the power of AR by using location-based AR to drive fans to their venue all year round. For example, sports teams can drive fans to their stadiums during away games by augmenting the stadium into an interactive game that unlocks discounts or prizes.

Event organizers can also use this technology to send personalized promotions and offers to fans based on their location within the stadium. This can encourage attendees to purchase merchandise or buy a specific product from the concession stands.

With the help of augmented reality, sports and entertainment organizations can increase fan engagement, drive fan loyalty and create unforgettable experiences for fans both in person and at home. And with 5 billion smartphones capable of engaging with WebAR, the time to use this technology to enhance the fan experience is now.

As director of product management at Niantic, Tom Emrich leads product and marketing for 8th Wall, Niantic’s web-based augmented reality development platform. 8th Wall has powered thousands of branded WebAR experiences for top brands around the world. Tom is recognized as one of the leading thought leaders in augmented reality, virtual reality and the metaverse. A pioneer in this space, Tom has over a decade-long track record of running tech teams and providing strategic direction in emerging technologies for powerhouse brands and organizations.