Augmented Realestate: An Idea for the Future

Location, location, location. You’ve heard it a million times before. Whether the purpose is business or pleasure, location is a prime factor is determining the value of real estate. In terms of marketing, I see the term “location” having a whole other set of parameters in the next 30 years.


Okay, so you’re sitting in your driverless car one evening cruising through Times Square. Looking out the window, you see flamboyant colors racing around buildings while images and text emerge into animated graphics. Brands surround your vehicle battling each other for your attention.

You drive by an Apple Store, and looking through your window you notice that they’re showcasing the new iPhone 38s. Instead of a billboard ad, theres an animated and interactive graphic that covers the entirety of their building. As you press your finger on Apple’s augmented ad it leaves the building and follows you over to your window. You are now long passed the Apple Store yet their ad is still following you because you are still engaging with the information they are offering. The complete user experience is on your touch screen car window or preferred device, and it flies away when you close the ad.

The scene I just described is probably not so far off from most people’s experience in Times Square today (besides the part where the ad leaves the building and follows you). The iconic plaza has been an advertising haven for decades due to it’s premium location in one of the most popular and consumer-centric cities in the world. The featured billboards have more square footage than my apartment and, more importantly, the real estate value of each ad runs for millions of dollars.

While the owners of 1 Times Square bring in tens of millions of dollars each year on advertising, I believe real estate owners alike will have the opportunity to drastically increase their ad revenue on a whole new scale over the next 30 years.

What is augmented real estate?

Augmented real estate is property that exists in a digital realm viewable only through a certain lens, as opposed to real estate as we know it which is property that exists in the physical world – property that we can touch, walk inside, build and knock down. It gives marketers a chance to serve interactive digital ads that appear to be lifelike and free from physical boundaries.

We are decades – even years – away from sitting in a car that drives itself, which will free up our eyes for what’s going on around us. If you’re like most marketer’s, you’re probably thinking: what a great opportunity to expose our brand to people. Billboards today are already meant to capture the attention of drivers, and for that reason there are states with ant-billboard laws.

How is augmenting billboard ads any different than what we have today? The difference between this augmented advert and an ordinary billboard is ability to interact.

Theoretically, augmented real estate is the geographical address at which the augmented ad originated. This gives opportunity for establishments to register their address onto a certain directory, similar to Google AdSense, and have the highest bidder use their physical address to advertise on an augmented network.

For example, a software company could be headquartered at 10 Franklin Ave, whereas the augmented real estate value of this property could be bought by a completely different party. This is no different than if I let someone advertise their services with a banner ad on my website. It’s my domain, and they’re using it to occupy their ads.

But how would you decide which AR platform show which ads? The same way you decide whether or not to advertise on Google, Facebook, or Twitter. Each platform does some things better than others, and they also each have their own niche markets.

Current Development


Snap Inc. has been experimenting in the AR marketing for a long time. Currently, they are one of the most popular AR platforms being used by the general public, so it’s no surprise that marketers have naturally gravitated toward the platform for new and innovative ways to engage with their audience.

Most recently, they’ve partnered with Bud Light to create this mascot you see here on the right offering the public beer. Notice how he’s in a fixed location? Most Snapchat filters that we’re used are that ones that alter our faces, but of course theres the dancing hot dog man that went viral this past summer which was available to anyone at any time, unlike geo-tagged filters which are applied based on location.

Imagine if Bud Light bought augmented ad space from Google and placed this same character outside a liquor store everyday starting at 5pm. Everyone that is on their way home from work in one of Google’s autonomous vehicles will see this man through their AR-equipped windows.

Past Development

Remember Pokémon Go? There was actually some serious marketing potential here. While everybody was out on the streets enjoying the fresh air and nice day (yet staring at their phone) looking for Pokémon, local business were taking advantage of some of the in-app purchases Pokémon Go had to offer.

There were certain items called “lures” that attracted Pokémon. Owners of cafes and restaurants used this as an opportunity to attract foot-traffic toward their store, and lo and behold: it was working. Business found a way to connect with their customers by embracing the latest craze in AR.

While the hype of Pokémon Go has died down, the strong response that ensued when business embraced AR in an alternative way is promising for the future of AR marketing.

A Step Up From Digital Real Estate

The idea of augmented real estate is not unlike the digital ad space we see today. Google’s search results display ads based depending on a handful of variables, and the amount you spend is one of the them. Certain locations of websites, like a banner ad at the top of the page, are considered more valuable than others and therefore cost more.

The concepts are the same, but the worlds are separate. I might see the same ad on the internet whether I’m at Logan Airport or a college campus in Vermont, whereas augmented real estate is not separate. It’s one in the same. It’s an expanded version of a system we already have in place.

Augmented real estate combines modern marketing phenomena of augmented reality, geo-tagging, and autonomous driving into a futuristic advertising experience that appears to be out of a sci-fi movie, but really could be right around the corner.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on what the future will be like for marketers and consumers.


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