12 digital fundraising trends for 2012 #3 Augmented Reality

I came across this fun awareness campaign by youth breast cancer charity CoppaFeel! last month and it caught my eye, not just because it was described as “The world’s first augmented reality 3D boob billboards” but because it was one of the first examples I’ve seen of a charity making use of Augmented Reality in any shape or form.

Augmented Reality is a live view of something in the real world that is augmented by some form of computer generated overlay when it is viewed through a digital device, such as when viewed using the camera on your Smartphone or Tablet. The overlay might be an image, a video, data, or even an audio track.

In the case of the CoppaFeel! campaign when you view the poster through an iOS or Android device running the Blippar App, the image ‘leaps-out’ at you in a simple 3D form and you see, overlaid on the poster, buttons that you can use to interact with the ad. In this case it offered you the opportunity to give each of your boobs a name and then share them thus labelled with your friends on Facebook or Twitter – all in the interest of reminding women, in a fun and memorable way, to check their breasts on a regular basis.

To give you an idea of the resulting experience, you can see the original poster (left) and the ‘augmented’ poster (right) below (as viewed on my iPhone using the Blippar App). Or, for the full experience, just download the Blippar App to your smartphone and use it to view the original poster on the screen.

If you haven’t yet seen some form of augmented reality campaign it is highly likely you will do this year, as digital marketers capitalise on the mass adoption of camera-equipped smartphones to augment everything from billboards (pizza anyone?) and press advertisements (e.g. for Commonwealth Bank in Australia), to guide books (like this App from the Museum of London) and games (use AR to hunt invisible monsters!), and even coffee cups (like Starbucks  Christmas Cup Magic) and your humble pint of beer (Guinness in this case).

In a market research report released last month by US business research company Visiongain, it was estimated that use of Mobile Augmented Reality will increase exponentially over the next five years – to the point at which 25% of all App downloads will incorporate Augmented Reality functionality.

The potential for digitally augmented fundraising? Well what about a WWF poster where the snow leopard leaps out at you to get you to sponsor it? Or a Third World disaster press advertisement where you can see an overlay of a field clinic in action and interact with virtual buttons to donate? Or how about turning your supporter newsletter into an interactive 3D experience along the lines of the AR pop-up books developed by Helen Papagiannis?

Got any other great examples or ideas of how Augmented Reality can be used by fundraisers and non-profit marketers? Do share them by leaving a comment below.

This is the third of 12 posts that I’ll be publishing throughout January on trends I think will prove to be important for digital fundraising in 2012. You can find the previous trend post, on Strategic Blogger Outreach, here.

Facebook adds location functionality with Facebook Places

Applications using the ability of smartphones and other mobile devices to pinpoint your precise location at any time have been a key topic for discussion amongst digital marketers over the last year or so, and were also something I covered in my Digital Fundraising Hot Topics Session at this summer’s Institute of Fundraising National Convention here in London (check-out from slide 52 onwards).

Up to now, a lot of the location-based application chatter has focused on the new breed of specifically designed location-based social networks like Foursquare and Gowalla. However, it was only a matter of time before the global market leader in social networking responded. Hence, last week we saw the launch of Facebook Places – an extension to existing Facebook functionality that will enable smartphone wielding Facebookers to share their location with their Friends, be alerted when Friends are close by, check-in to specific locations, and share details of good places with others in their social network. For an introduction try the Facebook video above or this Mashable post. This new functionality was initially only available to US users, but is to be rolled-out to other countries over the coming months – going live in the UK on 17/09/10..

Naturally, the potential for Facebook’s 500 million-plus users to openly share their location as they travel around has only added to the already rising tide of privacy concerns related to social networking. However, despite such concerns (and the resulting advice to social network users to take more care over using profile settings so as to better manage their privacy), with Facebook now in the game there seems no doubt that the application of location-based functionality will now grow even faster than before. Indeed, Foursquare actually reported record numbers of sign-ups in the wake of Facebook Places being launched.

This addition to the ways in which social network users can connect with their friends – and brands can connect with social network users – is still a very new aspect of digital marketing. So it isn’t something that every marketer and fundraiser needs to be worried about having in their digital programme right now. However, case studies from smartphone-based treasure hunts to Foursquare-based campaigning are already starting to show how the technology might be used to create new ways to engage with consumers or supporters and it is certainly something you should be keeping an eye on to see how it might be usefully integrated with your digital communications over the next couple of years.

The fast growing potential for Smartphone Fundraising

Last week, Ericsson analysts announced that, according to their estimates, the world’s 5 billionth mobile phone subscription was reached on Thursday July 8th, and they illustrated the pace of growth with the fact that there are now more mobile subscribers in China alone than there were globally in 2000.

While such a milestone is a clear reminder of the growing ubiquity of mobile phones, it’s actually the parallel growth in mobile broadband subscriptions that Ericsson also report in the same news release that I think is all the more exciting from the fundraising point of view. They forecast 3.4 billion mobile broadband subscribers by 2015, up from 360 million in 2009 – which is in-line with other market estimates and represents the level of growth that has led analysts at Gartner Research to announce earlier this year that mobile phones will actually overtake PCs as the most common web access device world-wide by 2013.

This might seem like a crazy forecast, given the relatively low levels of mobile web use we see today. But with multiple studies showing month on month exponential growth in mobile web user numbers and eMarketer analysts predicting that there will be more mobile internet users in China by the end of this year than the entire population of the US it’s already looking like the technology adoption curve to beat them all.

All of which is why, when I was asked to present the Hot Topic: Digital Fundraising session at the Institute of Fundraising’s National Convention here in London last week it was Smartphones and the incredible range of new fundraising opportunities their mass adoption looks set to offer us that I took as my hot topic subject.

You can see my full presentation above or view it on Slideshare here – and if you’d like to read more about some of the emerging new fundraising opportunities then you can also take a look at my article in the April edition of the Resource Alliance’s ‘Global Connections’ e-newsletter.