We've reached the point in the trajectory of augmented reality's growth where AR advertising experiences are becoming commonplace tactics rather than rare experiments.
Some of the more impressive examples of AR ads to emerge recently come from Hulu, Coinbase and Ray-Ban via Snapchat, along with a web-based AR experience from Captain Morgan built with the 8th Wall Web platform.
To promote the second season of its original series Solar Opposites (from the Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland), Hulu has published a Sponsored Lens reflecting the aesthetic of the animated sci-fi sitcom. Starting with the front-facing camera, lead character Korvo instructs you to lift your hand, where a sci-fi rock will materialize.
From there, the experience switches to the rear-facing camera, where you are prompted to draw a vertical line on your screen. Doing so opens a "pocket dimension," which amounts to a virtual portal to a 360 VR environment. In a purple-hued hallway that seemingly extends for eternity, you'll be able to interact with various sci-fi gadgets and read cards explaining them.
The Lenses from Coinbase and Ray-Ban are much more straightforward, both using the front-facing camera. The former inserts a virtual background behind you, with a halo of Bitcoins circling your head and a button urging you to sign up for the cryptocurrency exchange service and earn $5 in Bitcoin. The latter enables you to try on three styles of Ray-Bans glasses, along with hotspots that explain various features of each style and a "Shop Now" button to purchase them online.
The aforementioned trio of AR ads are available now through the Lens Carousel on Snapchat for iOS and Android. However, availability may vary, as these immersive ads tend to be finely targeted to specific demographics.
Meanwhile, Captain Morgan tapped Hoopla Digital UK to build an AR mini-game for its Original Spiced Gold rum.
After confirming that you are of drinking age, you'll be asked to place a virtual grid on the nearest wall. Once complete, a wall safe will appear. Using the slider below it, you must crack the safe before the timer runs out. If you're successful, you'll be able to access the treasure hidden within — a virtual bottle of rum...that you can't drink.
To access this AR mini-game, visit the Captain Morgan AR website or scan the code below.
Short-form AR experiences built on platforms like Lens Studio from Snap, Spark AR from Facebook, and 8th Wall Web appear to be gaining momentum as the preferred method for marketing campaigns, as opposed to developing native apps via ARKit and/or ARCore.
However, we're still at the point in time where brands are experimenting with the available AR tools at their disposal to see what works, so this could change should Apple and Google add some fantastic capabilities to their respective AR toolkits.