How Mixed Reality Will Transform Advertising

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Imagine yourself meeting your friend far away from your place at a coffee shop by projecting your digital self and your friend interacting with you, sipping coffee and a virtual kitten that’s indistinguishable from a real one playing on the table. Exciting, isn’t it? Well, that’s what Mixed Reality has in store for you. Before diving deep, let’s first understand how it’s different from Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR).

Virtual Reality

VR completely overrides the physical world and creates its own digital world. It takes the user to another immersive environment and allows the viewer to experience something that would not have been feasible otherwise. For example, VR would let you have 3D experience of Rio de Janeiro Carnival, FIFA world cup, your favorite band, sea surfing and much more just by wearing a headgear (irrespective of the physical place). Here is a video of Google’s Artist in Residence (AIR) program which shows artists producing creative pieces using HTC Vive and Google Tilt Brush:

Augmented Reality

Unlike VR, AR works in tandem with the real world by superimposing digital objects on the real-world environment. It functions by augmenting the physical location or objects using layers of 2D or 3D digital content, thereby improving the user’s perception of reality with new information. The application of AR is increasing with every passing day. Some of the things that you can do are shopping by experiencing the product right from your home, playing game, learning historyexperiment with makeup and the list goes on.

Here is DuSee—an AR app developed by Baidu that leverages smartphone hardware, deep learning and computer vision to craft virtual objects that can interact with the physical world.


Now, let’s move to Mixed Reality, an advanced and much more complex form of Augmented Reality.

Mixed Reality – The Next Frontier

MR technology produces integration of virtual objects in the physical world with such precision that users won’t be able to distinguish them from the real ones. So how exactly is this different from AR? In case of AR the digital object moves along with the gear where as in case of MR the digital object stays in its position and the user seamlessly interacts with it. Hence, in the MR world if a virtual spider is under your table, you would have to look under the table to see it.

Given below is a depiction of the MR tech created by Magic Leap, a secretive startup that has raised $793.5M from Alibaba in Series C round.

Key Element of Mixed Reality

The fundamental principle of Mixed Reality lies in creating an impression that the digital object really belongs to the physical world. That can be successfully achieved only if the object would interact with the real world. Thus, MR technology would heavily rely on the following to craft realistic holograms:

  • exceptional optics
  • 3D head pose estimation
  • object and location assessment
  • geometric estimation
  • deep learning

All these elements are necessary to create 3D-mapping of physical world, accurately place the objects and control their behaviour via gestures. For instance, if a user wants to play with a digital pet in a park, then there would be certain locations where it’d go, locations where it won’t and a pre-defined guideline to interact with other objects.

Now let’s look at the MR market estimation. According to a research conducted by Grand View Research, the global mixed reality market could be worth USD 6.86 Billion by 2024.

With increased demand of such technology and considering the fact that advertising follows eyeballs, it’d be interesting to explore how adverts will be impacted by MR.

Advertising in the Mixed Reality Era

It’s quite evident that brands need to move from storytelling to story-doing in order to cut through the communication overload and provide immersive customer experience. Mixed reality will enable brand owners to create singular, interactive and integrated experiential platform that will directly impact brand advocacy. Let’s now cover the key elements of MR advertising:

Machine Learning

As these MR devices would be wearable tech and we’d use them almost all the time for most of our daily activities, it would definitely result in increased media consumption along with media interaction. For advertisers, this will open whole new set of behavioral data that they can use to analyse, learn and predict consumer behaviour. Apart from this, deep learning would be applied to automatically classify and index real word objects so that additional content layer could be applied to them.


Consumers will only accept the type of brand communication that would be unique and customized – be it intelligent product recommendation, a welcome message or an interest-based offer. Considering the massive amount of consumer data that would be available to brands, hyper-personalization would the norm of the day. For example, using the contextual data collected by brands, the same digital billboard could showcase different messages to different persons.


Retargeted advertising will not be restricted only to the online media – brand communication will be tightly integrated and coherent across channels. Consider a consumer walking into a shoe store and interacting with a particular type of shoe, but eventually decides not to purchase. The brand could track this behaviour and reach out to the potential customer via a digital signage present in the public transportation network.


With MR gears, not only brands will be able to tap into buying patterns, but also will leverage GPS data (similar to smartphones) to communicate with consumers irrespective of the location. This will result in hyper-local advertisements that will precisely target the right consumers by cutting down the large-scale, national advertisements that probably wouldn’t have reached the actual demographic. When you’re in Vegas and looking for the most happening club, your gear will showcase the top five clubs along with direction laid out on the road.


Policies and governance will be paramount as brands would like to utilise almost all of the real estate.  A governing body would be formed that will set up rules and guidelines for advertising in the MR world. We’d have certain locations approved for advertising or the others would be off-limits to brands. For example, private properties and houses would be designated as no-MR zone.

Ad blockers

Ad blocking would be most likely one of the crucial apps in the MR world. As the brands try to fight for attention, you’d need sophisticated ad blockers irrespective of the device you choose for Mixed Reality. These apps will be driven by real-time data and crowd contribution to filter out unwanted messages in the MR experience. It’s not surprising that there has already been some work in this line:

Use Cases

Let’s now explore some of the uses cases and seed the ideas:

  • In the travel and hospitality industry, a five star hotel could use MR to sell additional luxury services. As the customer is confined to the hotel area, the business could showcase the local attractions and various facilities that customer wouldn’t have known otherwise.
  • A detergent brand can create an app that would use the sensors present in the gear to identify stain marks and explain the right way to get rid of them. I’m sure parents with kids would love it.
  • In case of automobiles, digital billboards could provide an option to download the brochure directly via the gear (prompting customer interaction with the ad and thereby inducing brand recall). In the showrooms customers would be able to view a digital car with options to change color and explore features in detail.
  • While shopping in the clothing stores, brands could present a YouTube influencer just beside the product and customers would be able to swiftly engage with the influencer to get associated styling tips. Without switching to another screen customers will be able to get additional value.
  • Product packaging will become more important than ever. Most of the products that consumers select will have promotional coupons, games and product benefits displayed right on top of the package.


The fact that MR tech is receiving massive investment from global giants is enough to make the advertisers jump into the game. That said, the biggest advantage of MR experience would be pull-based interactions, as consumers would be interested in this type of engagement. Thus, it has the potential to create a win-win situation for both the brand and consumer. With all the high-quality brand communication, there would also be unwelcome form of messaging by advertisers to grab maximum possible exposure.

The key factor for brand owners would be to craft campaigns in such a way that the audience will be eager to participate in them. Once the advertisers begin to use the MR technology to deliver remarkably catchy and highly personal communication, it should be able to transform the advertising industry.


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