Blippar: Augmented
Reality at Its Finest

Ben Keefe and Sonya Gleeson

Blippar: An Introduction

Blippar is an image recognition application that creates an exciting augmented reality experience and brings brands to life through interactive content. Launched in the UK in 2011, Blippar expanded throughout 2012, and has worked with a number of major brands including Nestle, Heinz, and Domino’s. The app has also worked with a number of artists in the entertainment industry, including Justin Bieber, in order to generate new promotional content for upcoming shows and albums. In 2012, Blippar won “Best Browser” at the Augmented Reality Summit Awards for variety and consistency in its app, beating competitors such as Layar. With regards to competition, Blippar has emerged as the top player in the augmented reality segment, and has received praise for its technical accuracy and strong execution of creative strategy.

Blippar operates by transforming regular content, such as packaging or print art, into “Blipps” – recognizable content that can be scanned by a smartphone or tablet, and generate an augmented reality experience. Blipps can feature anything from games to photo applications, sneak peak movie or music samples to daily recipes. When a consumer scans a Blipp – identified by the Blippar logo and an invitation for consumers to scan – the image-recognition software brings up the augmented reality on the consumer’s platform. They are then able to navigate through a menu and choose which features or activities they wish to engage in. Additionally, Blippar hosts its most popular Blipps on its website – giving consumers the opportunity to seek out new content.

Blippar transforms what is usually a short encounter with a brand into an interactive way to engage with the consumer. Rather than relying on a print ad or small amount of content to sway a consumer, Blippar gives brands the opportunity to involve consumers for a longer period of time. By providing interactive content, Blippar is giving brands the opportunity to give consumers a more memorable experience.

External Trends and Market Factors

In today’s society where individuals are constantly connected through social media and mobile devices, Blippar gives marketers a unique opportunity to provide consumers with distinctive and innovative advertising experiences. A variety of social and technological trends in the marketplace today create an opportunity for Blippar to enhance consumer experience in advertising through its augmented reality.

According to an article in the Globe and Mail, Canadians spend twice as much time online compared to any other country in the world. With an increased penetration of mobile phones and widespread adoption of wireless networks and high-speed Internet, Canadians now have greater incentive to utilize their phones in everyday situations. Many consumers argue that they are becoming more dependent on their smartphones, which may be illustrated through the affectionate adoption of the word “Crackberry” for BlackBerry devices. Consequently, consumers are now constantly engaged in the online world. Blippar can leverage this trend to engage consumers through traditional print and digital mediums to transport them to an augmented reality and create a catered brand experience. This allows brands to gain an advantage by holding consumers’ attention for longer periods of time, and create more memorable and engaging brand experiences.

Additionally, the consumption of television and movies through traditional sources has significantly decreased in recent years. With the advent of such devices as the Personal Recording Device (PVR) and mobile television, consumers can now watch their favourite shows when and how they want, without ever being subjected to ads or interruptions. Consumers today have greater power and control over their content, which has consequently made engagement with certain target groups particularly difficult for marketers. Also taking into account the trend of utilizing multiple technological devices simultaneously (i.e. smartphone, television and computer), it is now more challenging than ever to capture and hold consumers’ attention for any significant period of time. Blippar has the ability to integrate multiple devices and provide a unique and sculpted brand experience through the online world. It possesses great potential to break through the barriers and really capture consumer attention.

Mobile advertising and communications has increased drastically in past years. Marketers have seen the opportunity to collect CRM data, create customized advertisements and promotions, as well as leverage the idea of experience-based marketing through the use of mobile advertising. Tools such as behavioural marketing are being utilized to not only engage the consumer, but to create a customized promotion that fits their lifestyle and needs. The Blippar app can leverage this trend by creating Blipps that collect CRM data or create location-based promotions to excite consumers. Consumers now, more than ever, are bombarded with so many advertisements that we have developed barriers that help fight against overexposure (Rumbo 2002). Blippar offers the opportunity to go above and beyond traditional advertising to leverage and engage all aspects of the marketing mix to create a distinctive and crafted consumer brand experience, to produce lasting impressions.

Competition and Opportunities

With limited competition in this augmented reality market, Blippar has the opportunity to gain a first-mover advantage and create necessary relationships and infrastructure that will encourage widespread
adoption in new and emerging markets. Blippar’s award at the Augmented Reality Summit shows that it is the top player in the segment, and that it is stronger than its main competitors, Layar and Aurasma, which have experienced multiple technical issues. Blippar can leverage the current trends in this new augmented reality market to gain a strong foothold.

Connectivity in the Marketing Mix

Blippar provides marketers with a tool to connect all factors of the marketing mix through one simple app. Blipps can be added to anything from the packaging to print and media advertising. This effectively
elevates the product to a new level of engagement, as these factors transform into portals to an online augmented reality world. Synergy is created among factors in the marketing mix by unifying and consistently delivering the values and promises of the brand in real and augmented time. The Blippar app also allows brands to generate awareness and educate consumers about various aspects of their chosen brands, products, or services. Blippar creates a brand relationship sought after by young consumers today, in order to make the advertised brands top of mind and a preference among consumers. Many consumers today are also looking to become part of brand communities and engage with other people who share common interests. Through the Blipps, consumers are able to vote and make comments about the products and the advertisements and can even send Blipps to friends via Twitter, Facebook and email. This consequently has the effect of building communities of Blippar
users who can interact and share content to build relationships. This app culminates and generates unique experiences to create a constant feeling of connectivity with different facets of the brand.

For the launch of Justin Bieber's new album, he worked with Blippar to create an interactive consumer experience, including a contest to win concert tickets, thus connecting print, mobile, experential contests, and online media

Reaching New and Emerging Consumer Groups

This app also has the unique ability to target young and emerging consumer groups. Millennials have grown up in a technology-saturated market and are comfortable using technology to seek out information. Although this consumer group has yet to become decision makers or breadwinners in their homes, they have the opportunity to influence purchases. By engaging this consumer group, the decision-makers of tomorrow, Blippar can actively target an emerging group of consumers who will value these experiences and feel truly connected to the brands they explore on the app.

Risk and Barriers to Adoption

Although Blippar has increased dramatically in popularity, particularly in the UK, a variety of risks and barriers to adoption still exist. Of particular concern is the availability of the app on only Android and IOS operating systems. Consumers who utilize other software for their tablets and smartphones will not be able to use the app, consequently limiting widespread adoption. While the fastest growing users of the Internet are individuals aged 55+, Gen X still seems to utilize their phones for more utilitarian purposes. Unlike the younger Millennial generation, who are very comfortable with this technology, this could also limit adoption among this age group. There is also no way to accurately determine whether or not the North American market will share the same excitement for such tool. Blippar’s success is strongly determined by North American corporations’ desire to adopt such augmented reality technology. Without their ads infused with Blipps, this app will have minimal success. Finally, it is currently difficult to identify which ads can be Blipped and which cannot. A significant amount of resources must be put towards educating consumers on what Blipp ads look like and how to identify them before widespread adoption can be reached.

Blippar in Action: BlackBerry Z10

A recent example of a brand that has utilized what Blippar has to offer is BlackBerry (formerly Research in Motion) with the recent launch of the BlackBerry Z10. In the past, BlackBerry has been notorious for either not offering, or offering lower-quality versions of a multitude of popular applications, including Instagram and Pinterest. Blippar is yet another app in the long line of absentee BlackBerry features. Because of this, BlackBerry worked with Blippar to create an opportunity for IOS and Android users to experience the new Z10. By scanning the BlackBerry blipp, Blippar users are taken into a new BlackBerry Z10 reality, which includes an interactive demo through a number of the smartphone’s new features. In an effort to keep the BlackBerry brand relevant, the company worked with Blippar to try and tease non-BlackBerry users, and give them a taste of what they are missing.

BlackBerry’s work with Blippar illustrates a brand taking full advantage of the augmented reality experience-based marketing that the app offers. A simple print ad, or even a TV spot or YouTube video could show what the Z10 looks like, but Blippar has allowed non-BlackBerry users to become involved with the phone, without having to purchase it or even stop by a local mobility provider. This has given BlackBerry the opportunity to drive trial of its new phone. Given the drastic changes BlackBerry made to its operating system, utilizing an interactive medium such as augmented reality gives it a platform in which it can make large strides in re-establishing its brand equity. Relying on split-second communication mediums such as print would not allow BlackBerry to make the same impression on the consumers it once had, but subsequently lost. Rather, they are able to give the new and improved BlackBerry experience to consumers through the smartphone of their choice.  

BlackBerry is a shining example of how brands can use Blippar to re-energize their brand through an exciting interactive experience for consumers, and use it as a tool to keep the attention of consumers, as it becomes more and more difficult to retain.

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El Akkad, Omar. "The Globe and Mail." The Globe and Mail. 08 Mar. 2011. Web. 6 Feb. 2013.

Rumbo, Joseph D. "Consumer Resistance in a World of Advertising Clutter: The Case of Adbusters." John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Feb. 2002. Print.