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Vossle witnessed an average spike of 200% in its sign-ups over the last 6 months: cofounder Prafulla Mathur

Mathur talks about Vossle’s journey in the upcoming space of augmented reality (AR).

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Mumbai: Augmented reality (AR) isn’t just a fancy term anymore. It has, in fact, become a much sought-after means of accomplishing brand goals. The major factors driving the growth of web AR are the booming gaming industry and the rapid penetration of the internet, which are driving brands across the world to adopt web AR to increase their engagement with customers on their websites.

Here’s where Vossle, a cloud-based, no-code web AR development SaaS platform, comes into the picture.

Launched in January 2021, Vossle was co-founded by Prafulla Mathur and Pulkit Mathur. According to the duo, with the platform, businesses can create augmented reality in under a minute. It requires no app downloads to experience world targets, image target-based campaigns, games, or face detection-based try-ons using Vossle’s core AR+AI engine. It reaches millions of users instantly with an app-less AR experience that works on every modern smartphone browser the moment you publish it.

Prafulla Mathur and Pulkit Mathur are serial tech entrepreneurs, and are also the founders of Queppelin, a global metaverse development company.

Vossle raised funds from Nimbuzz ex-CEO Vikas Saxena. Nimbuzz was acquired by the UK’s New Call Telecom for $250 million. Vossle grew quickly and now operates in Gurugram and New York.

In an exclusive confab with Indiantelevision.com, Vossle co-founder Prafulla Mathur discusses the application of Web AR by various brands and across categories, how it is being used in the advertising and marketing space, and so much more.

For starters, the global augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) market size was valued at Rs 1,222.7 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach Rs 37,073.65 billion by 2030, registering a CAGR of 40.7 per cent.

Discussing the expansion plans of Vossle over the next two years, Mathur reveals, "We are expanding Vossle technology teams as we are releasing new product features. Our current teams are in India and New York (USA), and we will add further teams at these offices. We are also adding more customer support teams (both through email, phone, and the Vossle tech forum) to help our customers.

"Elaborating on Vossle being a no-code platform, Mathur reveals that it democratises AR for everyone by removing the dependence on development/coding teams. "You can think of Vossle as Shopify for web AR. With Shopify, businesses can create websites without writing any code and do not have to bother with hosting them. Similarly, with Vossle, businesses can create various types of AR without any coding knowledge and use them out-of-the-box as the created AR experiences are also automatically hosted on Vossle," he explains.

About the subscription model: Apart from a free trial, Vossle offers two subscription plans, namely, commercial and enterprise plans. In the free trial, users can create unlimited AR experiences with 100 free views. The commercial plans are for $99 per month, wherein users can create various types of AR experiences like in-line AR, face filters, try-ons, games, world tracking experiences, image tracking experiences, green screen chroma key videos, and so on. Users can create unlimited experiences and are offered 10,000 views + $0.01 per extra view. In the enterprise plans, along with all the commercial plan benefits, users can avail themselves of the option for white labelling and custom branding.

Use cases of Vossle’s technology

One of the most eminent use cases of Vossle’s technology is that of in-line AR being used for improving website search engine optimization (SEO). Any effective SEO strategy aims to keep visitors on the website for longer session durations. Vossle’s inline AR Feature makes it possible by embedding AR experiences inside a website, which has a 90-times higher engagement rate from website visitors.

Mathur emphasises that AR is also utilised for product packaging. Brands which integrate AR into their packages are able to capture the audience way more than their competitors. This also gives analytics and insights on customer profiles, store level sales, and customer engagement analytics and makes brands better prepared to update inventory at the highest engagement stores.

Advertising and marketing also constantly utilise AR. "Traditional marketing strategies are no longer sufficient to stay up with the times. The key to creating a digitally transformed company is to build upon new strategies such as integrating AR into business models," points out Mathur. For instance, Tanishq, a product of the Tata Company, is one such example of excellent AR marketing. The company used Vossle’s virtual try-on feature to make a gorgeous 3D reproduction of their newest jewellery and made it possible for users to virtually put it on.

Gaming is another instance wherein AR is used extensively. Nothing compares to AR for attracting audiences, engaging their attention for longer sessions, and boosting click-through rates. Web AR games amplify this even further. For example, Pond’s, a major skincare brand from Hindustan Unilever (HUL), needed a smart, potent, and engaging marketing strategy to connect and influence the younger audience and expand their loyal customer base. Thus, the brand created a unique web AR game on Vossle—users have to pop the bubbles with their facial movements. With each bubble they pop, their skin becomes more radiant and glowing. The game also has an end-to-end ecommerce flow with integrated discount coupons.

Another example is that of a web AR experience of a 3D basketball game that can be played by scanning the code. The player has to shoot baskets through the hoop with their finger. This is just one of the many examples of how any idea can be turned into a web AR game with Vossle.

AR being heavily applied in e-commerce. Online retail has already started adopting 3D AR product visualisations. Amazon is already offering 3D product visualisations, Lenskart (a prominent eyewear e-commerce player in India) offers eyewear try-ons, and Tanishq has offered Vossle jewellery try-ons. Mathur says, "This not only improves the shopping experience by allowing customers to visualise and virtually try-on a product before buying, it also reduces returns as the customers are making an informed decision."

Education is also an additional use case of AR. Players in the education space are now integrating Vossle into their online courses to explain concepts in a unique way by providing a real-life context to the students through AR. This interactive way of learning results in faster understanding and higher knowledge retention.

Web AR – led promotions and the effect of web AR on sales

Mathur brings out, "We witnessed an average of a 200 per cent jump in our monthly Vossle sign-ups over the last six months. Many of these signups are from brand marketers or their agencies. Additionally, some of the largest marketing, advertising, and creative agencies have become Vossle’s service partners, clearly indicating the huge investments that the brands are making towards creating web AR campaigns.

"Talking about the effect of web AR on sales, Mathur elucidates that as the users' gaze times are very high when viewing AR, they stay for longer durations on brand websites when AR is embedded on the page. This improves the websites’ SEO rank and hence drives traffic, resulting in higher sales.

Brands selling their products online also give ads on Google, which is called search engine marketing (SEM). Inline AR on its landing page increases the quality score of such ads, reducing the ad rates for the brand and resulting in more targeted users being able to see it within the same budget.

Additionally, brands that integrate AR into their packages are able to capture the audience way more than their competitors. "One of the recent campaigns we did for an FMCG company received 500K views in a month on their web AR experience through their packaging. This resulted in higher sales for the brand," says Mathur.

Brands and categories utilising Vossle’s web AR technology

Along with many others, some of the few brands that Vossle is already working in tandem with are Pond’s, Tanishq, and Emirates NBD, which is a banking behemoth in the Middle East and uses Vossle web AR to wish their users on every festival like Mother’s Day or Chinese New Year.

Speaking about the categories implementing AR, Mathur states that it is used for inline AR—website owners from across education, retail, furniture, jewellery, and consumer goods like beauty products, etc. are taking a lead in using inline web AR.

It is also employed for packaging-based AR implementations. Consumer packaged goods (CPG) are leading the way in offering web AR experiences to engage customers. They have millions of packages on superstore shelves and in consumers' homes, which is a huge marketing opportunity they can leverage.

Reach, target group and brand experiences for consumers

While deliberating over the kind of reach that web AR has, Mathur says that it works in browsers (Chrome, Safari, etc.) on devices like smartphones (Android, iOS) and laptops/desktops. All combined, a total of 5-8 billion devices across the globe are compatible with web AR.

What is kept in mind while creating web AR brand experiences for consumers? "No-code platforms for web AR like Vossle have eliminated the need to write code, which used to be a big task earlier. Additionally, Vossle offers a fully hosted web AR creation experience. Hence, website owners and brands who want to create a web AR experience only have to focus on creating interesting content. Vossle helps with that too, with its integrated content library and empanelled service partner to create custom content for Vossle users," deciphers Mathur.

Needless to say, web AR as technological advancement is more attractive to the youth. Do brands usually use such experiences to target Gen Y, Gen Z and millenials only? Or if such web AR experiences are also created for the higher age groups, how does Vossle bring in traction from such age groups? Mathur concludes, "Every medium such as movies, television, videos or stories has different user groups and demographics preferring different types of content regardless of the medium. Same is with web AR which can create different content types for different interest groups like fun and educational for kids, exciting stuff like face filters and games for 16-30 year olds, and product visualizations and try-ons for 30-60 year olds."

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