The Numbers Behind Plug-Ins & Augmented Reality – Spoiler: They’re Not Good

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As some of you may know, when it comes to consumer facing Augmented Reality experiences here at Zugara we’re opposed to executions that require people to download a plug-in. Our deep experience in the interactive space has taught us that downloads are a gigantic barrier for people, that’s why our products are built in Flash (which has a penetration rate of over 99%). Of course, the question is: how big of a barrier are plug-ins?

Now the technology companies that require plug-ins for their Augmented Reality executions aren’t quick to release stats regarding bounce rates (which isn’t exactly the most shocking piece of news), but I just found some stats in a Unity Technologies blog post that I find incredibly telling. Unity Technologies are the makers of Unity 3 “a game development tool that has been designed to let you (developers) focus on creating amazing games.” Like Shockwave, Unity 3 requires that the gamer has a specific plug-in to play the games that are developed using the proprietary platform.

In their blog post, Unity divulges that for users that don’t already have the plug-in only 60% successfully install it. They go on to note that “for Shockwave we believe it is around 40%.” Obviously, in relation to Shockwave, a 60% success rate is pretty good… but that still means 40% of the people you’ve worked to get to your site, are opting out of the experience because of the download. And judging by the fact that they blogged about it, it appears that a 40% bounce rate is a good number for the industry…

Okay, I don’t want to argue, so let’s just split the difference between the Unity and Shockwave numbers noted above and say that the average successful download rate is 50%.  If you’re creating an Augmented Reality experience for people, a 50% success rate on a download is unacceptable, and terrible for your business. Would you stand outside a brick and mortar store and only let in 50% of the potential customers people who wanted to enter? Of course not…   So why aren’t we as an industry applying the same principles to our online branding?  Why do you think marketers are still forcing downloads on their consumers?  What are the “pros” that outweigh (what I see as) a very big “con”?  I’d love to hear your thoughts below (especially if you have more data on download rates)…