This post is part of our Think 2020 series, in which we explore the mindsets, behaviors and emerging solutions shaping marketing and communications in the year ahead.

Last year we saw a slew of interesting extended reality (XR) applications, including Modelo’s interactive Day of the Dead murals, USA Today’s immersive skyscrapers feature, and Facebook’s introduction of AR ads for everyone. Google now even invites mobile searchers to meet life-sized Shetland ponies and more up-close.

Whether virtual, augmented or mixed, marketers increasingly are tapping XR to make their messages stand out. And it’s not just because the technology is shiny and new – nor is it only accessible to global powerhouse brands with marketing money to burn. When targeted well and designed to deliver real value, XR experiences can deliver eye-popping brand affinity and engagement.

Don’t believe us? Consider these results from two XR studies:

Not Just for Flash

A Bobbi Brown Cosmetics Facebook AR ad produced jaw-dropping results in a one-month test:

3x click-through rates
2x website purchases
60 seconds average time spent engaging with ads

–  Glossy / March 2019

Cathay Pacific’s 360-degree video ads outperformed all of the airline’s previous brand campaigns:

29% increase in unaided awareness
25% rise in brand favorability

–  Mobile Marketer / April 2018

What’s Next

Industry experts predict XR will be the buzzword of 2020. They’re also forecasting an 800% increase in market size in the next four years.

We’ll have to wait and see whether either prediction becomes reality. In the meantime, it’s a safe bet the technology will continue to improve, the cost of entry will decline, and the volume of content will expand – all of which will contribute to increased consumer adoption.

With that in mind, expect to see continued innovation from heavyweights like Google, Facebook and others in the year ahead. Though many new XR applications might start as paid opportunities, some – such as 360-degree and 3D social photos – already exist as newer tools for organically bringing your brand’s story to life in a more immersive way.

Think 2020

Here are three ideas for how you can experiment with XR for your brand in 2020:

Social Media Advertising

Expect to see more XR offerings for paid social in the year ahead. The capabilities exist on Snapchat, YouTube and, as of December, Facebook and Instagram.

These units are a natural fit for makeup brands and clothing retailers – but could also work well to draw attention to and engagement with traditionally lower-interest categories like light switches and wall plates or automotive parts.

XR IRL

XR presents plenty of strategic opportunities to use emerging technology to connect with consumers in real life.

For example, interactive signage could stimulate conversation and excitement prior to the unveiling of a special event. An immersive invitation could increase conversion by offering prospective guests a sneak peek at the setting and amenities at an exclusive resort. Or a pop-up experience at an unexpected time or place could surprise and delight a target audience and lead to a lift in brand awareness and affinity.

Immersive Journalism

Publishers will continue to experiment with immersive formats to augment their news coverage. That means new opportunities for PR pros and their creative partners. Consider pitching stories that lend themselves to nontraditional storytelling formats – whether by taking advantage of XR assets that already exist or by partnering with an outlet to help create something new.

Let’s Connect

We can’t predict the future – but we can say with certainty great ideas are fueled by curiosity and collaboration. If you’re looking for a partner to tackle this decade’s business challenges with relentless creativity, we’d love to hear from you.