ar experiences

AR experiences: 5 examples brands can create

By Cristina Ferrandez

As AR technology progresses at a rapid rate, the variety of augmented reality experiences is ever increasing. From face filters to world effects, the marketing potential of AR is vast. AR experiences create a unique opportunity to connect with the consumer, enabling visualisation, personalisation and story-telling. The range of AR formats currently available allow tailor-made advertising campaigns that promote products, brands and campaigns in unprecedented ways. 

Now, more than ever, why not harness the power of AR? As the pandemic looms large, the virtual world has become communication’s crutch. AR has the unique ability to add dynamism and excitement to our new reality. By blurring the lines between the virtual and real worlds, AR can drive home powerful messages and lift morale in these trying times.

In order to leverage its benefits, you must understand each available AR experience individually. The great thing is that each format is awesome in its own way. Each allows you to drive consumers to you with easy, fun engagement that is always appropriate to your goals. If you are eager to get started, we’ve made a quick guide into the different types of AR experiences.

The different types of AR experiences

Face filters

Instagram ar experiences
Face filters on Instagram

Social media is all about looking good. Since Snapchat popularised the AR aesthetic in 2011 with its introduction of Lenses, using face filters has become almost second nature. Face filters impose an augmented reality effect on the user’s face, instantly changing their appearance. Easy to use by directing the customer’s imagination (and perhaps vanity!) to focus on a branded AR design, they create a uniquely accessible link between brand and consumer.

The key advantage of face filters is their shareability. It only takes a few taps to send a beautifully augmented selfie to a huge friends list. These days, when nothing is worth much if done in private, a flattering filter is likely to be shared with friends. By using AR to spruce up selfies, face filters create effects that the everyday person can easily recognise, enjoy and share, allowing brands to access a wider customer base and to quickly become more recognisable.

Face filters are applicable to a wide variety of scenarios. L’Oréal recently launched branded Snapchat filters to connect to the Millenial and Gen-Z audiences, allowing users to instantly emulate L’Oréal’s pretty looks through make-up effects and virtual accessories. But not all face filters have to be pretty. Ninja Theory, the producers behind the popular “Hellblade” video games, recently created some “Senua” themed Snapchat lenses that allow users to become Hellblade’s dark-fantasy characters, prompting people to share pictures of themselves wearing the unique “Hellblade” war paint.

Shareable, easy and fun, face filters are the perfect AR stepping stone for any innovative marketing campaign.

World effects

Snapchat ar experiences
A Snapchat World Lens to raise awareness of COVID-19 and encourage donations

Of all the different types of AR experiences, world effects are, quite literally, changing our world. These effects are for back-facing cameras. Usually by focusing on a blank plane, world effects create a 3D image in the space in front of the user, allowing it to become part of their visual environment. 

World effects have a massive scope. By combining the real and digital world, they create an immersive experience that allows the consumer to really connect with the brand. Where older users would be amazed at the realism of modern AR world effects, younger audiences will delight at 3D figures and objects suddenly popping up in their living room.  

World effects can be used to simulate products, informing consumers by giving real-world, to-scale representations of them. They can also be used to raise awareness and boost popularity. Snapchat’s “Dancing Hotdog”, for example, offered endless fun. Through a flick of their cameras, users could have an animated hot dog dancing on any surface, from books to subway floors, prompting widespread sharing of the comic dancing antics. Snapchat have just created medical-themed world effects (displayed above) to raise awareness of COVID-19 and encourage donations. The possibilities are endless.

Broad, exciting and at the front-end of modern technological hype, world effects can be used to simulate products or promote brand images that are best seen in true 3D.


Poplar Studio Aladdin The Musical portal
A Poplar Studio portal for Aladdin The Musical

Portals are magical ways to immerse the user in a fantastical world of your own creation. Stepping through a virtual doorway, which the camera imposes on a horizontal plane, the user is transported into a new realm. From photorealistic simulations of foreign places to animated wonderlands, portals really do let consumers delve inside the universe of a brand.

Here at Poplar Studio, we recently created a portal to promote the new Aladdin Musical, which allowed users to step inside a cave of wonders and rub shoulders with everyone’s favourite genie. No need for a magic lamp! 

Portals offer an unprecedented level of immersion. Any marketing message, from promoting your brand’s image to evoking emotions related to your product, can be captured in, as Aladdin would say, a whole new world. 

Mastercard recently used portals to bring its card-benefits to life, simulating their different card rewards and proving the diverse success of AR portals. Benefits and rewards previously hidden behind distant-seeming screens, websites and documents are realised right in front of the consumer, making it harder and harder to turn those benefits down.

Offering unparalleled depth, portals create virtual worlds, completely capturing a brand or image.


Mini-games from the Poplar Studio showcase
Mini-games from the Poplar Studio showcase

Mini games allow users to take part in short games by using face gestures or tapping on their screens. These are the most interactive types of AR experiences, delighting users and encouraging word-of-mouth sharing.

Right now, while everyone is looking for things to fill the time, mini-games are a quick and easy way to keep them occupied. Users will actively interact with the mini-games’ branding, stimulating active thought on the product being advertised. As they are often based around face filters, they also retain a high degree of shareability, allowing users to share their scores and funny moments. This shareability can be expanded by using multiplayer mini games, such as Snapchat’s Snapabbles, which amplify brand recognition through competition and communication between users.

Interactive and addictive, mini-games are the most effective AR experience to shoot up engagement and the shareability of your content.

Image trackers

A virtual tour using a map tracker AR effect
A virtual tour using a map tracker AR effect

Image trackers augment a physical object or image with added layers of content and information. They are the perfect way to add depth to any marketing campaign, elevating materials such as posters and merchandise to the next level. Some image trackers require the target in shot at all times, using AR to add extra dimensions, while others use images to trigger an AR experience which can then operate independently of the source. 

Image trackers allow users to interact with a brand whilst incorporating physical context, driving consumers to engage further with posters, logos or billboards. Engaging users with an image tracker is an easy, natural next step after viewing a physical product or advert. Poplar recently worked with Riot Games to augment a League of Legends map to promote their new Oppo phones. We’ve even used image trackers on our business cards to encourage active engagement with our brand!

With the ability to work well in combination with other types of advertisement, image trackers can be that exciting differential that boosts your advertising campaign to the next level.

Ready to create AR experiences for your brand?

Now that you’ve been introduced to the wonderful world of augmented reality experiences, what are you waiting for? Every AR format is fantastic in its own way and AR is being used now more than ever, as brands, both big and small, accelerate their image, changing worlds through the camera.

Want to take it to the next step? Contact us now and we can help.

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