Real and digital worlds collide

This week Facebook announced it has been testing augmented reality ads in its News Feed. Rolling out later this year, the feature will give brands the opportunity to bring their ads to life and show off their products in a new interactive environment. AR ads will typically feature a ‘tap to try’ button. This will open Facebook Camera where customers can then visualise or ‘test’ products via AR lenses or filters. Facebook revealed that Michael Kors has been the first brand to test the technology with Sephora, Bobbi Brown, Pottery Barn, Wayfair and King all next in the line.

The move towards ads marks the latest evolution in Facebook’s AR journey following its launch in Messenger back in June.

As with the ads, the AR functionality in Messenger lets brands show the customer what a car might look like in their driveway, or what they’d look like wearing a new liquid lipstick. Unveiled at the F8 developer conference earlier this year, Facebook’s vice president of product marketing Ty Ahmad-Taylor showed off message ads where users could try out cosmetics and one for the Candy Crush game which incorporated his face into gameplay footage.

AR Studio

Here’s where things get really interesting. Having launched AR Studio back in 2017, Facebook changed the game earlier this year with the announcement it would be opening its platform to all developers.

AR Studio provides creators with a complete toolkit to build and share their own AR experiences. Unlike a lot of Facebook’s offering, it represents an industry first and is undoubtedly intended to challenge the “anti-developer attitude” of other platforms.

Facebook director Ficus Kirkpatrick said, “We want more artists, brands, developers and creators to be able to build and share amazing AR experiences. By opening AR Studio to all creators we’re taking steps towards making AR a part of everyday life.”

Why should brands be excited about AR Studio?

In launching AR ads, Facebook might just pull off what few brands have managed before – making ads fun. Where users may have glanced at ads with interest in the past, AR ads make the user the star of the show and get them interacting with the ads in their own environment.

For Facebook, brands and consumers it’s a win-win-win. Customers have fun, brands get new eyeballs and Facebook makes more lovely money from its advertisers.

In the hands of AR’s first champion Snapchat branded filters were slick and highly creative. On the flip side they took 8 weeks to turn around and were very expensive to create (around £100-£150k for ad spend and creative). This was difficult to justify for a lot of brands – particularly when you consider that a filter launched in the ephemeral space often lasted for a maximum of 24 hours.

AR Studio means that AR content is no longer the domain of an elite few. As well as giving brands big and small the chance to explore AR, opening up the market to talent from all corners of the design and development world means more collaboration, more innovation and more creativity across social media. Although not currently available in Instagram Stories, brands will have the option to share a link to their filter in their DMs, on their own site, on other social platforms or in their Instagram bio. At present we are expecting AR to continue to evolve via Facebook, then revolutionise Instagram for brands.

AR at Punch

This is an exciting time for Punch and its clients and we’re looking forward to getting stuck in to some creative ideas. We’re already working with a couple of leading brands and developing some really innovative AR filters to be launched later this summer. As one of the first agencies getting involved, we’ve been user-testing the technology so we know what to exactly what to expect in the user journey. Here’s a filter we created this week just for fun…

Interested in creating AR assets as part of your brand awareness strategy? Get in touch with our social and design teams and let’s get creating.