The UK’s largest travel firm Tui Travel is likely to continue using new augmented reality technology in advertising after a successful first campaign in the Times for its Sensatori resorts.
The advertisement used the Aurasma Lite app which meant when the ad was viewed through the camera on a smartphone or other mobile device it launched a video.
Aurasma Lite was launched in June by technology firm Autonomy which was bought by Hewlett Packard for £7 billion last August and is currently available to be used for free.
Nick Longman, Tui Travel distribution and online director, said studies have shown people are three times more likely to book when they have viewed a video.
Asked about how the first Aurasma campaign fared, he said: “It was really positive and we saw a big pick-up in bookings.”
The Aurasma platform is still very much in a growth building stage but it has already worked with a number of travel firms including Saga Holidays, Kuoni, Titan Travel and Virgin Atlantic.
The app allows users to create an ‘aura’ which it then recognises and prompts it to launch a specific piece of content like a video or 3D virtual image.
Non-travel brands such as Lucozade, Top Gear magazine Marks & Spencer and Tottenham Hotspur are also using the technology.
Aurasma is the official sponsor of the Tottenham playing shirts which will themselves launch content if viewed through the app on a smartphone.
Martina King, Aurasma managing director, said the potential applications for travel are huge and she expects the sector to be a key source of future partners.
“Right from the beginning we have always had this belief that the travel industry will be the one sector that will do the most incredible and exciting work with us,” she said.
Until the app penetration and usage reaches a critical mass it is being offered to commercial partners to use absolutely free.
However, King said once it starts to drive engagement, be it bookings, brochure requests or phone calls a cost per click commercial model will be brought in.
Aurasma knows that the technology has to prove itself and this is still early days but claims partners such as UK pub chain Wetherspoons and Buick in the US have seen over 60% click through rates.
Aurasma can recognise all sorts of objects from flyers to posters and newspaper adverts to real life 3D objects like landmarks or products like bottles or product packaging.
King said corporates can create a corporate aura meaning that wherever that firm’s logo appears it will fire up specified content if viewed through the app.
Marks & Spencer has just used it for a Valentine’s Day campaign Waterloo Station, London, which was aimed at driving male customers into the nearby store via flyers and a huge billboard.
Aurasma is available on both Android and Apple mobile platforms and already has 2,500 global commercial partners in 75 countries.
The firm claims Aurasma is the world’s first visual browser and it is poised to exploit the fast growing penetration of the latest generation of powerful mobile devices.
King said: “For years there has been this promise that mobile phones will really alter the way we live our lives.
“With the processing power of modern devices, our software can now work in a way that you would previously have needed huge great mainframes to operate.
“People now who are out and about are able to have a completely different experience with the technology they have with them.”
One application being worked on for the London Olympics is a tourist guide in Russian that will provide information to visitors through the app when phones are pointed a certain landmarks.