Brands, AR and advergames: when the experience is enough

Advergames and Augmented Reality, what a powerful combination. Getting people to go to places just to get a free item and have fun with it is definitely a successful strategy. Since everyone has a mobile phone, you can “catch them all” and win prizes every time you visit a store. This is what many brands are doing, since the arrival of Pokemon Go! and its large adoption by the general public. Augmented Reality (AR) is becoming mainstream and with that, brands don’t want to waste time! But what are the implications of that? Is that really effective? How?

Recently, the beer brand Amstel created a treasure hunt game app that allows players to win prizes by holding a parcel (?) for 6 hours or so. Basically, Amstel has hired the services from the app company Snatch that has a kind of “model” of treasure hunt for brands that people can simply steal virtual parcels from you. It is quite clever because it makes people engaged and they don’t want to lose their parcel, so I guess people will do everything to keep it safe (hello psychology!). You can also protect yourself, by building a tent or other things by spending some virtual currency (hello, IAP!). In the end of the day, the strategy is pure psychology! People don’t want to lose things and for that, they will do anything. Again, the app is free, but you have to “wait” 6 hours holding this parcel. It is a lot of time. So, as we know, nothing is free in this world!

“It is thought that the pain of losing is psychologically about twice as powerful as the pleasure of gaining” –¬†

What is the potential of this type of interaction for brands? The answer is in the experience. Again, if you have a good experience and this is related to a brand – magic! You will remember the brand easily.

But how can this be sustainable? That’s the most difficult part of the whole thing. If you win something that you don’t like, would you play it again? Remember, you need to wait 6 hours. Or if you lose every time? Or if actually you don’t have spare time to play and you know you will lose it anyway? There is a world of possibilities and experiences here. So if you have a bad experience, would that influence the experience with the brand? It all sounds fun in the beginning. And what if you can’t use your phone in the streets because it is dangerous?

My conclusion of this is: brands could benefit from it if it is an event with beginning, middle and an end – not as an on-going experience that will be there forever. Brands should make sure that the experience is positive in the beginning and sustain it until the end – and after that move to another level. Since players evolve in the game, people might lose interest, they might move on and find other interesting things to do.

Tourism and Augmented Reality: past, present and future

AR experience at the Casa Batllo
AR experience at the Casa Batllo

When was the last time that you had an experience with AR in Tourism settings? For me, it was in Barcelona, at the Casa Batllo. We could browse through the places around the building and in each particular space it was possible to see the whole house getting life. They gave us some smartphones with headphones and we were just walking around trying to find those mysterious settings around the building. While the phone was browsing for content, I could see a logo – It was made with Unity! In fact, using Unity for AR is quite simple. I didn’t know that!
AR and Tourism is not new. Actually my surprise wasn’t the fact that they were using AR. It was Unity. It is possible that the first AR-Tourism partnership was created in the beginning of the early 2010. For me, it was always like black magic… Very complicated to make!
The potential for Tourism industries and AR is huge. Games could be created in those settings using AR technologies and representations, for example. Another example is in restaurants, while choosing for food in a very interactive menu. But what is the future of AR and Tourism?

Inamo Restaurant (from
Inamo Restaurant (from

I think AR and Tourism will be everywhere, faster and cheaper. Now that everyone has a mobile phone with cameras, AR is more accessible. And with tools like Unity taking around 5 min to make an AR experience, everyone will be able to create something. This means that AR won’t only work for Tourism, but for everything. In fact, now that everyone could have access to this technology, people from local communities could create themselves an interactive experience!
Of course, a few challenges could be related to immersion. When you’re experiencing an AR interaction you might feel in your own world. That would depend on the type of interaction. In terms of research, immersion is a good area to explore. I remember at the Casa Batllo we had to take care not to walk into people’s feet because we were so immersed into that experience! It always depend. In the restaurant example, everyone was sharing their menu in one table, so it was collectively interactive. But, again, it depends on the context.
The future is not far – it is here and now as we know it! Time for us to build our ideas and leave to the world to experience them! :)

Read more:
Unity tutorial:

IMG_4008 IMG_4007