Brands are starting to realize the power of using AR to promote and provide content — AR is totally different from traditional marketing in that it is more creative and arguably more interesting. Because not all companies have sufficient time or resources to recruit a crew focusing on AR marketing, start-ups that combine AR technology and marketing are growing more popular. Zappar, a London-based start-up founded in 2011, is one such start-up.
Zappar’s mission is quite clear — it wants to provide exciting and affordable AR products through smart devices that everyone, from big companies to regular people, can use to promote and popularize their brands.
In June 2016, Zappar presented ZapWorks, a development tool that just works like Photoshop. By subscribing to this tool, people can learn to polish, edit or even build AR marketing products by themselves, thus creating AR marketing campaigns that meet their needs. Zappar hopes by launching ZapWorks, they can implement fresh solutions in marketing and promotion, and finally, achieve the goal of connecting AR technology and physical products.
A lot of influential brands are buying in
Although it has only been operating for six years, Zappar has partnered with many influential brands and companies around the world, like Universal Pictures, Time Warner, Coca-Cola and SONY.
Last year, Zappar partnered with Rovio, the maker of Angry Birds, to promote its new game: Angry Birds Action! Zappar developed zapcodes, which essentially act like QR codes; people can recognize zapcodes via smartphones. Zappar released one billion customized zapcodes offline on different Rovio physical products — all people had to do to unlock the Rovio’s new AR gaming world, which included exclusive power-ups, augmented reality mini-games, and a photo-features function was download the new game on their phones and scan the zapcodes.
And who is Zappar’s competition?
At SXSW in March, Zappar launched its new product, ZapBox, a combination of AR and VR products. ZapBox retailed for only $30, reflecting Zappar’s commitment to offering affordable AR products to everyone.
According to VB Profiles’ AR Authoring & Publishing market section, there are 12 companies focusing on this field. One of them is Blippar, a company that is also based in London and that has raised $99 million to date, including $45 million from its A-round financing in March 2015 and $54 million from its B-round financing in March 2016. Considering that the total funding of this market is only $110 million, Blippar is one of the largest companies in AR.
Like Zappar, Blippar is helping brands promote products and provide content via AR technology, and last year, it launched its own AR development tool that allows customers to build AR marketing products themselves. But unlike Zappar, Blippar focuses more on picture-recognition and information collecting.
At the moment, Blippar is the biggest company in the AR Authoring & Publishing market, but Zappar’s affordable products may give Blippar some serious competition. Zappar’s positive results from its A-round of funding, in which it raised $3.5 million, spells out a bright future for the company.