San Francisco, CA — Just a year ago this month, Pokémon Go burst onto the scene and helped make augmented reality (AR) a household phrase. With around three-quarters of a billion downloads to date, the game shattered countless records in both the gaming and app industries. Last year, our team saw this phenomenon as a proof point for a larger shift in the digital space and captured it as one of our 2017 Trends:

Mixed Reality:

In 2017, new developments and mixed reality tech will take VR from tethered to touring, from looking right there to exploring everywhere. This augmented reality will open the door to responsive virtual experiences in real environments.

Certainly this past year has shown countless promising new offerings in the field, but has it really changed anything for marketers?

In a word, yes. For one, it has opened up a world of possibilities in the space around geo-targeting and geo-fencing. While these capabilities existed prior to Pokémon Go’s release, the sheer exposure that such a blockbuster creates can shift consumers’ expectations. Savvy tech companies are capitalizing on this increased demand, and Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and now Apple have all doubled-down on building mobile platforms capable of creating AR software and apps. As more and more developers get their hands on better tools to create AR, the space is poised to explode with both great and not-so-great content. According to James Holland, the Creative Technology Lead at global marketing firm Text100, "You're going to be able to make a Pokémon Go in a weekend in your bedroom, which is mind-blowing."

Why This Matters—

As great AR experiences continue to become easier and cheaper to build, we’ll see countless new ways to engage HCPs in their offices, on the go, and at congresses. Additionally, look for a myriad of new consumer-facing opportunities to appear as well. AR’s ability to leverage the smartphones in everyone’s pockets by merging digital overlays with real world locations is setting the stage for the future of healthcare marketing.

About the Author:

Drew Beck has spent his entire career in healthcare — from direct patient care as an EMT in college to countless roles in pharma sales and global marketing for leading life science companies including Eli Lilly & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline. He is currently a leader on the Syneos Health Insights & Innovation team, a group charged with leveraging deep expertise in virtual collaboration, behavioral science, trends-based-innovation, custom research and global marketing insights.