augmented reality advertising

Augmented reality advertising: what you need to know

By Cristina Ferrandez

Most marketers now regard augmented reality advertising as the best tool for increasing engagement in 2021. That said, it’s essential to remember that augmented reality advertising is not a single format or practice. Thanks to the continued development of AR technology, augmented reality advertising now encompasses a range of formats and can be delivered through several different online platforms. 

So, how can your brand refine its efforts to make the most of what is undoubtedly the next frontier in advertising? To help you cut through the noise, here is a quick guide to how and where you can use AR to supercharge your brand’s advertising. 

Augmented reality advertising on social media 

As tech companies leverage AR to increase user engagement on their platforms, social media is at the forefront of consumer-level AR experiences. 


augmented reality advertising
Branded augmented reality lenses on Snapchat

A selfie filter pioneer, Snapchat can be an effective and easy option for promoting your brand with AR. Snapchat offers paid campaigns where brands can design interactive filters, which show up on Snapchat users’ carousel of filter options. Crucially, because these filters can then link back to your website, they’re a great way to promote a new product — sponsored lenses only appear for a limited period.


Augmented reality filters on Instagram
Augmented reality filters on Instagram

Like Snapchat, Instagram offers “effects for brands,” which are essentially branded AR filters that are more interactive than regular ads. Much like on Snapchat, these can be accessed through a user’s carousel of effects. However, in contrast to Snapchat, branded filters on Instagram are not temporary promotions and can be made available indefinitely. You can also boost engagement with your AR effects by sharing it in your brand’s Instagram stories and posts. For a more detailed explainer, see our guide.


augmented reality advertising
Augmented reality filters on TikTok

TikTok may be the newest addition to the ever-widening social media roster of influential platforms, but it’s become a quick favourite, especially (though not exclusively) with younger audiences. TikTok is unique because of its potential for virality — popular videos and trends spread quickly and are often seen by large numbers of users — but is also tricky for brands to leverage because of its short video format. Recently, however, TikTok has joined Instagram and Snapchat in offering advertising options for brands, including branded AR effects and hashtags challenges, which are campaigns that can help to promote your filter.

The benefits of different types of augmented reality advertising

Games, branded filters, and portal experiences can immerse a user in your brand. Fostering user awareness may be the most typical way brands leverage social media. With AR experiences being over 200% more engaging than non-AR equivalents, augmented reality allows you to take your user engagement to the next level. 

However, brands can also use augmented reality advertising to increase revenue through increased conversion rates. Experiences such as virtual try-ons allow consumers to try your product immediately before buying both in-store and online. AR advertising can give brands a conversion rate boost of up to 80% when connected to buying opportunities.

augmented reality advertising
You can now shop with augmented reality from MAC Cosmetics’ Instagram shop

A great example of a virtual try-on campaign overlaid with a social media profile is MAC Cosmetics’ Instagram page. Here, some posts include Instagram’s shopping bag icon in the corner. Users can click on the icon to be brought to a product page for the product, toggle through colour options, and try it on themselves using their front-facing camera. This functionality gives customers a realistic idea of what a product would look like on their faces. Shoppers can also select the “buy now” button for immediate purchase or the “add to cart” button to save the product for later.

MAC was one of the first brands to preview Instagram’s feature, developed specifically to make AR campaigns more accessible to brands on the platform. Everyday users had initially expressed disappointment when Instagram replaced the former “activity” tab with the new “shopping” tab, but the shift has proven positive for brands. Makeup and personal care companies have had such success with AR filters that Facebook plans to expand virtual try-on features and visualisations.

For brands relying on traditional display ads, Google has an exciting new option — Google Swirl 3D display ads. These are 3D interactive ads that users can engage with as they scroll through a page. One of the first to utilise this new ad type was MG Motor. Collaborating with Poplar Studio, MG Motor developed a 3D ad campaign for their newly released MG Hector compact SUV. The ads displayed the Hector as a 3D responsive model that users could rotate, zoom into and away from, and scroll around to examine it up close.

Making the most of augmented reality advertising

One thing to remember is that, even though an augmented reality advertising campaign focuses on the digital space, your promotion of that campaign doesn’t have to be online only. Though in-person functions are currently limited, promotional events and pop-up stalls are perfect opportunities to pique curiosity about your new AR features, for example by displaying QR codes linking to your experience.

An innovative promotion tactic for an AR campaign is to combine digital and analogue experiences. For inspiration, check out Coca-Cola’s drinkable billboard campaign or Disney’s AR Mickey Mouse message to guests.

Within the digital realm, a useful tactic is to entice an influencer to promote your AR campaign. Whether paid or organic, influencer promotion is one of the most effective methods for gaining social proof in 2021.

augmented reality advertising
For this Aladdin the Musical campaign, the team asked actor Matthew Croke to take a video using the AR filter to promote on Facebook.

However, it’s important not to forget to promote your AR experience on your brand’s own social media platforms too. Just because you’ve implemented an AR ad on Snapchat doesn’t mean you should not encourage followers on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and elsewhere to go check out your new feature.

Ready to embrace augmented reality advertising? Contact us at Poplar Studio to talk about how you can take your AR advertising to the next level.

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