- Brookfield Properties is partnering with The Aria Network to offer augmented reality (AR) ad inventory throughout its shopping centers nationwide, according to an announcement emailed to Retail Dive's sister publication Marketing Dive.
- The deal gives Aria exclusive rights to Brookfield Properties' virtual air space, which covers more than 150 million square feet in 100-plus locations across 42 states, per the announcement. Aria will use the space to create AR opportunities for brands to advertise their content, which consumers will be able to access via their mobile phones.
- Through the partnership, Brookfield Properties is hoping to appeal to tenants, brands and guests of its shopping centers by creating "phygital" — a blend of physical and digital — advertising experiences. The move sees in-person shopping integrating AR to better compete as online shopping grows.
As in-person shopping hopes to claw back from the economic fallout of the pandemic, Brookfield Properties is converting its physical mall presence into "phygital" experiences. The nationwide geofenced ad inventory gives Aria exclusive rights to Brookfield Properties' untapped virtual air space. Using Aria's AR technology, marketers will be able to leverage retail space for branded content accessible through mobile phones. Other opportunities afforded by the ad network include virtual mall directories, wayfinding in mall environments, immersive retail displays, touch-free transactions and more.
Though developed before the pandemic, phygital experiences have received more attention in the past year and a half as retailers seek safe yet fresh ways to engage in-person shoppers. Nike tested the market earlier this year through a recreation of a state park in its NYC flagship store. At a time when mall shopping is declining, Brookfield Properties could use its phygital offering to stir up much-needed interest for its many tenants. Last fall, the real estate subsidiary laid off 20% of its retail arm.
As people spend more time on their phones, AR experiences are becoming central to the retail industry. Companies like Google, Pinterest and Snap are focusing more of their e-commerce offerings around the technology, which brands have been activating across a variety of categories. AR marketing is one way in-person commerce can compete with its internet-based rival.
Aria, founded two years ago, has been steadily gaining traction in adland. The company used its AR tech to help power the halftime show at this year's Super Bowl and plans to bring its platform to more public spaces, including airports, music festivals and universities, per the announcement. Former CEO of Interpublic Group David Bell, CMO of Mastercard Raja Rajamannar and former global CMO of Facebook Antonio Lucio are among members of Aria's advisory board.