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Stagwell unveils AR tech to open up the metaverse

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Strategy

by Justin Crann

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Beth Sidhu

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ARound aims to help brands turn augmented reality from an individual to a communal experience.

At CES this week, holding company Stagwell debuted a new augmented reality technology it believes will provide a low-barrier entry for many brands and marketers into the metaverse.

The technology, called ARound, is a platform that eschews the often highly individualized AR experience and instead seeks to open it up, allowing venues and retailers to create attractions in the virtual space for their live events, better capturing guests’ attention, personalizing their experiences and increasing brand engagement.

“The purpose of ARound is to change augmented reality from something you do alone in a room with a headset into something you can do as a shared experience, because we believe the most effective experiences for brands, marketers and advertisers are those that are experiential, persistent and shared,” explains Beth Lester Sidhu, chief brand and communications officer with Stagwell.

The technology allows venues, retailers, and others with large spaces that would typically see plenty of traffic to capture that space, build an AR version of it, and then layer different experiences – such as games, direct purchasing, and other interactive elements – on top of it.

As an example, Sidhu cites the MLB mascot race, which typically involves a limited number of participants on an actual baseball field between innings. Rather than being limited to physical space and a small number of participants, teams – including an unnamed franchise which is already employing the ARound platform – can open the experience up to many more participants. H&M was also among the retailers involved in a test conducted last year.

While the applications for the platform are “tremendous,” says Sidhu, “there’s a lot of education.”

“Clients are interested in the product and how they can use it,” she explains. “Marketers want to be at the forefront of what is interesting to consumers, and consumers are excited about AR. But it is hard for most brands to figure out how to play in the space.”

While ARound isn’t a turnkey solution, it is “a scalable way for brands to interact with AR with relative ease and without spending millions of dollars.”

“The power of ARound is in connecting our physical spaces with AR. If we bring those two things together, we can create amazing opportunities for brands, consumers and marketers – really, anybody who wants to be at the forefront,” says Sidhu.

ARound is part of the broader Stagwell Marketing Cloud, which was fully unveiled at CES this year. A suite of integrated SaaS products, it also includes Harris Brand Platform, which provides daily insights on KPIs like brand perception, equity, sales funnels and the impact of marketing campaigns on customer behavior and perceptions; Koalifyed, an end-to-end influencer marketing application; and PRophet, a PR application that uses AI to predict media interest, sentiment and spread of a press story prior to pitching.

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