ar marketing

AR campaigns: why you need them and how you can use them

By Cristina Ferrandez

Augmented reality (AR) is quickly disrupting the way we consume and share information, with a staggering 3.5 billion augmented reality users projected by 2022. Unsurprisingly, businesses are rising to the occasion by creating AR campaigns that are helping them increase audience engagement and truly stand out from competitors.

The potential of AR is tremendous across industries and use cases. One area where it is proving particularly effective is in marketing and advertising. This is because of the inherent viral nature of AR content; as long as you create a compelling effect, users will capture it and share it with their friends, creating a snowball effect.

One of our customers gained more than 20 million impressions on a face filter, despite putting 0 advertising budget behind it. Users simply loved the effect and that was enough to generate word of mouth.

If you are thinking of adopting AR in your marketing strategy, now is the perfect time. With Instagram AR opening up to brands this summer, AR campaigns are set to become more mainstream than ever before.

HBO created a face filter on Instagram to celebrate the final season of Game of Thrones
HBO created a face filter on Instagram to celebrate the final season of Game of Thrones

What’s AR?

Let us start with the basics. What’s AR?

Augmented reality (AR) is essentially a blending of the real and the virtual worlds. It allows you to place virtual objects within our world through the lens of a mobile device.

There are many types of AR content, but some of the most popular are:

  • Face filters: these are layers of content that can be overlaid on a user’s face, such as the classic bunny ears filter.
  • World effects: world effects are similar to face filters, except that content is placed in the user’s surrounding environment rather than on their face, using the rear phone camera.
  • Portals: portals are doors into an entire virtual environment that you can explore through your mobile screen. Users place the portal within their surroundings and then enter it through a doorway.
  • Mini-games: mini-games are similar to face filters but slightly more complex. Users can play these games by moving their face in ways that will trigger it. For example, they might move their head, open their mouth or raise their eyebrows as part of the gameplay.
  • Image trackers: Finally, image trackers are object-specific. They are triggered by scanning an object or piece of merchandise, which the phone recognises, triggering the AR experience. Typically additional information or layers of content will then pop out of the object, such as videos and text.
ar marketing
Fox Home Entertainment created a face filter to celebrate the 29th anniversary of Home Alone

Why AR campaigns?

There are plenty of compelling reasons to jump on the AR campaigns bandwagon, but nothing speaks louder than stats.

It’s not only about the aforementioned 3.5 billion AR users. Ad spend and revenue from AR content is also set to skyrocket. 9 out of 10 of brands are planning on using AR in their campaigns, with reports suggesting ad spends of $2.4 billion by 2022 and generated revenues of $15 billion.

These are staggering numbers that really show how fast the industry is growing, and how big an effect it will have on the way brands engage with customers.

ar campaigns

What are the benefits of AR campaigns?

1. High engagement

AR allows you to design a truly immersive experience that is not static, but interactive and engaging by nature. Good AR content is also compelling and can contribute to a highly memorable experience for users.

Culture Trip – Soho, New York (Portal)

2. Increased following

AR is also great as a way of increasing your social following. Particularly on Instagram, users will have to follow you in order to access your content, so you can expect a large increase in followers after you publish an effect.

3. Access to the right target audiences

Just like regular ads, AR content can be targeted at the right audiences through platforms such as Facebook and Snapchat. This means that, regardless of platform, you can ensure you’re reaching the right people.

4. The viral effect

One of the most revolutionary aspects of AR content is that it is, by nature, particularly prone to be shared by users. Users will typically find an AR effect they like, capture it and then share it with their friends. This makes AR content an incredibly powerful tool for word of mouth, even with little ad spending behind it.

World of Warships Blitz – Face filter

What augmented reality platforms can I publish on?

Facebook and Snapchat are currently leading the race as far as augmented reality platforms go. On Facebook, people are able to create AR content using the Spark AR Studio, whereas on Snapchat they use Lens Studio.

This summer Facebook is opening up Spark AR to Instagram Stories. This will bring AR to even more people and create fresh opportunities for brands to reach them. Content creators will be able to build content for Instagram using Spark AR Studio on Windows and Mac.

What are some augmented reality uses for marketing?

Augmented reality is a perfect tool for marketing. We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg as far as AR campaigns go, but some of the most successful and groundbreaking use cases to date include:


Facebook and Snapchat offer perfect opportunities to reach the right audience through advertising, with one difference: AR content is much more compelling, engaging and shareable. This can maximise word-of-mouth and shareability across social media, reducing CPC and increasing conversions versus traditional advertising.

Special campaigns

A compelling AR effect is the perfect way to launch a new product campaign and generate buzz around it. It is still early days for AR campaigns, so companies that use it well will get that extra PR buzz that may make a product launch all the more successful.

Product or artist promotion

Another AR campaigns practice that is becoming commonplace comes from the entertainment and music industries. These companies are using AR across social media to promote musical artists and new entertainment releases. By creating really fun effects that users enjoy engaging with, they are encouraging word-of-mouth and shareability and generating buzz around the artists and entertainment products.

Increased sales

AR effects are also helping increase conversions by allowing users to envision products on their bodies and in their environment. AR features such as “virtual try-on” (which allows users to try on a piece of clothing or make-up) and “product visualisation” (which allows them to visualise a product in their home) are increasing sales and reducing returns. Such effects could be promoted in a fun way across social media, getting users to consider purchasing a product they might not have considered otherwise.

Big Shaq promoted his single "Man Don't Dance" with a World Effect
Big Shaq promoted his single “Man Don’t Dance” with a World Effect

AR is here and it is here to stay: there is no doubt that AR is going to revolutionise how businesses market themselves. Those who leverage the power of AR now will be best positioned to reap its benefits ahead of competitors, which could mean a considerable increase in brand recognition, engagement and sales.

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