Instagram AR Effects Are Here. Here’s Why Brands Should Care.

Spark AR for Instagram

It’s finally here! Facebook just announced the launch of Spark AR’s public beta on Instagram, giving the entire world the ability to publish their own AR effects on the social media platform. 

Until yesterday, the ability to publish AR effects on Instagram was limited to independent AR creators, but this update means that brands will now be able to publish effects too, reaching Instagram’s monthly user base of 1 billion through Stories. 

Spark AR instagram
The new Effect Gallery feature

Facebook also announced the arrival of a new Instagram feature: the Effect Gallery. This can be accessed from “Your Story” by tapping on “Browse effects” at the end of your effects carousel. 

The Effect Gallery offers a quick way to browse and discover AR effects. Previously, effects could only be accessed from your camera carousel, and only those of users you already followed would appear. The Effect Gallery feature allows you to cut through the noise and discover effects that you like, regardless of whether you follow those profiles or not. Creators will also find that the Effect Gallery now appears as a special tab on their profiles, enabling visitors to easily browse their portfolio of effects.

Spark AR Instagram
Facebook’s Spark AR platform

Like with Facebook, Instagram AR effects can be built using the Spark AR platform, so those creators and brands already familiar with Spark AR will find it easy to transition to Instagram. In a nutshell, over the next few weeks you can expect your Stories to explode with AR effects from friends, influencers, celebrities and, of course, brands.

Why should brands care?

You might have heard Augmented Reality heralded as the future of social media and advertising, and it’s no joke. According to Facebook, over one billion people have used AR experiences powered by Spark AR since last year’s F8 conference. With the launch of Instagram AR effects, we can expect this number to increase dramatically.

There are many reasons why Instagram is particularly well-suited to branded content. 80% of users follow a business on Instagram, which shows that Instagram users in general are quite eager to follow brands they care about. Moreover, Instagram Stories specifically have proven to be highly effective ways for brands to promote themselves, with branded stories accounting for 1 out of 3 of the most viewed Stories.

But it’s not just about the platform, it’s also about the content. Augmented Reality is a very effective form of social engagement and advertising because it’s inherently highly shareable content. As long as you build a compelling effect, you are likely to get shares, simply because users like it. AR content also has average dwell times of 75 seconds, four times longer than video, making it an incredibly engaging form of content.

From an advertising standpoint, the global ad spend from social lenses is predicted at $2.4 billion by 2022, with projections of $13 billion in revenue from AR ads by the same year. These figures speak for themselves, but it’s evident that the potential for brands to engage with audiences through AR is immense.

Spark AR Instagram
An Instagram effect from @johwska (Cosmopolitan)

What can brands expect to gain from Instagram effects?

There are plenty of reasons for brands to get involved with AR, particularly on Instagram. AR is a constantly changing industry, so we can expect plenty of interesting use cases to emerge over the coming months, but here are some of the top level benefits any brand can expect to gain from dipping their toe into AR.

More followers

Even with the introduction of the brand new Effect Gallery, the quickest way to access AR effects is still through the camera carousel. And the easiest way to access a user’s effects is by following them. As long as you create a compelling AR effect, you can expect to increase your social following considerably.

Word of mouth marketing

AR effects are by nature shareable forms of content. This makes AR an incredibly powerful form of word-of-mouth marketing, even without media spend behind it. As long as it’s good AR content, it will be shared, creating a snowball effect.

As an example, one of the AR effects we built for Big Shaq gained more than 20 million impressions, with 0 ad spend behind the effect. All of this traffic was driven purely by word-of-mouth sharing.

Our campaign for Big Shaq

More sales

As mentioned earlier, the projections for revenues from social lenses are more than considerable. The engaging nature of AR content plays a crucial role in these projections too.

You may already have seen a few examples of how AR is helping increase sales. Kylie Jenner recently launched an AR effect that allowed fans to virtually try on her lipsticks on Instagram. This proved a really effective way to bring her product range to the attention of Instagram users, and not just her website visitors. By allowing users to ‘try on’ these lipsticks directly from their mobile phone, many of these users probably ended up making a purchase, regardless of whether they had any previous intent. This really demonstrates the unique power of AR’s ‘show not tell’ nature.

instagram ar effects
Kylie Jenner’s lipstick filter (Harper’s Bazaar)

Over the coming months, we will no doubt see many creative uses of Instagram AR effects, which will help us gain a better understanding of just how effective a tool it is for brands. However, from where we’re standing, the engaging nature and versatility of AR content makes it uniquely equipped to dramatically improve brand engagement, and this is probably just the beginning.

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