Facebook is preparing to make augmented reality experiences for brands more visible in its mobile app with Tuesday's introduction of augmented reality ads in its News Feed.
News Feed AR ads will enable advertisers to insert AR camera effects, from virtual product try-ons to promotional 3D content, directly into ads.
Like Snapchat's Shoppable AR, the AR experiences will also give brands the opportunity to integrate calls to action that persuade consumers to navigate to an online store to purchase makeup or install a mobile game. Of course, the experiences can also be captured and shared with friends.
Michael Kors is the first brand to test the AR ads with a sunglasses try-on experience. According to a Facebook spokesperson, other alpha testing partners, namely beauty companies Sephora, Bobbi Brown, and NYX, furniture retailers Wayfair and Pottery Barn, and Candy Crush maker King, will start testing ads later this summer, with advertisers in other industries coming on board later this year.
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"We are excited to partner with Facebook on this newly innovative way to connect with our customer and provide her with a seamless omni-channel shopping experience for eyewear," said the Michael Kors marketing team, in a statement provided to Next Reality. "We see augmented reality as an emerging and important part of our customer-centric mobile strategy. We know our customer is highly visual, and we are always looking for ways to deliver experiences that are not only unexpected but relevant, personalized and useful to her in her shopping journey."
Facebook laid the initial groundwork for the new AR ads by enabling 3D content for the News Feed last year and adopting the gITF 2.0 standard earlier this year.
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The move makes sense, as augmented reality is increasingly gaining in popularity with both brands and their prospective customers. According to a report from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), more than 80 million US consumers activate augmented reality experiences on a monthly basis, and that audience is expected to surpass 120 million by 2021.
"People now expect a personalized and visually inspiring experience wherever they shop — whether on their phone or in-store," said Ty Ahmad-Taylor, vice president of product marketing for global marketing solutions at Facebook. "As retailers prepare for their biggest shopping season of the year, we're excited to introduce new products that will help them both delight and inspire shoppers, and ultimately drive sales."
Facebook itself has seen already seen success with its extension of branded AR experiences to its Messenger app, which the company announced at this year's F8 developer conference. ASUS experienced more than 10 times the engagement with its AR experiences than it did with previous non-AR experiences in Messenger. Nike's Kyrie 4s shoe, initially made available exclusively to Messenger users, sold out in less than an hour. Finally, Kia achieved a 46% increase in daily average dealer inventory searches and a 20% boost in calls to dealership directly from the Messenger AR activation.
When it comes to augmented reality, Facebook may be following Snapchat's lead (for the most part), but it is becoming increasingly evident that it's a lucrative path to follow nonetheless.
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