What’s ‘Real’ with Place Marketing? LocalOnliner Chats with The VR/AR Association’s Nathan Pettyjohn

Can’t find the shaving can aisle at Target? Didn’t know about the 4th floor coffee bar at Nordstrom’s? Can an avatar point you towards Jimmy Choo shoes at Westfield Malls and give you some points? Want to kill time at SFO at a new Terminal 1 art exhibit?

And about the shaving cream – can we show Gillette that consumers go over to it after they were browsing the ProGlide razor stand (where it can provide a print-out coupon kiosk, or perhaps trigger a mobile coupon?)

Those are the new opportunities with Place Marketing, a big hybrid mobile category that can include 360 views; augmented reality (i.e. Pokemon); virtual reality recreations of complex locations (i.e. airports, factory floors) and points of interest (parks, museums); as well as stores, coupons and promotions, and analytics for marketers watching consumer behavior.

The Local Search Association believes in it enough to produce the Place Conference, which takes place Sept. 18 in New York. Place marketing has also crossed into the VR/AR think-tanks like Greenlight Insights, the development of the fast-growing VR/AR Association, and tech providers like Aisle411.

VR/AR also plays a role in websites for home-based research and commerce. Pottery Barn’s 3D Room View, for instance, allows customers to position various home furnishings in a computer-modelled room. 3D images of 80,000 SKUs have been generated for the project.

Aisle411 CEO and VR/AR Association founder Nathan Pettyjohn spoke with us about some of the opportunities in the Place Marketing space for independent retailers and other SMBs, and how the space is developing to not only include websites and in-store mobile usage, but in-store digital AR signage.

“We are estimating multi-billions in AR advertising,” says Pettyjohn. “We will start providing the same level of digital insights about physical stores that we now get for e-commerce websites.”

Some of the growth will be based on new “Internet of Stores” tech capabilities, says Pettyjohn. Aisle411, for instance, boasts a feature called “Shelf Visits,” which combines indoor positioning along with shoppers’ in-store search, intent, and offer engagement.

Currently, retailers are driving the market. Brands will eventually prove important – and will help with co-op dollars — but it may be a couple of years.

For that to happen, however, the industry needs to get its analytics right. Retailers and brands need to see data that show increased conversion of purchases inside stores; the “save” of lost sales; increased shopping frequency; and new use cases.

Most users are currently not working off an optimized set of data, as we have seen with beacons. But gaps in the analytics data are being fixed. “Analytics are an end goal,” says Pettyjohn.

VR/AR Association Founder Nathan Pettyjohn