Why Major Platforms Are Expanding AR Offerings and What This Means for Your Brand



AR technology can serve to not only enliven the content we develop for our brands, but also to elevate new creators who bring our ideas to life.

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Even as users continue to delight in dynamic content like video or GIFs, it can sometimes seem like there is a finite number of poses, phrases, and captions. Augmented reality has stepped in to test the boundaries of our imagination, to engaging and hilarious results. Seeing an opportunity, major social media platforms are crafting new ways to take advantage of this highly utilized, potentially prosperous online space.

YouTube: Monetizing AR for Makeup

YouTube, in partnership with MAC Cosmetics, is testing an AR filter that allows users to “try on” select shades of MAC lipstick. As part of makeup tutorials hosted on the site by vlogger Roxette Arisa, users can try on different colors as they follow along with her “Golden Goddess Makeup Tutorial” that uses a number of MAC’s products. At key points, you can test out any of the 24 shades provided. Should one catch your eye (and lips) in a way that persuades you to buy, you can tap “Shop” and be led to a MAC shopping cart…with your shade already included.

From a logistical perspective, this technology isn’t too different from Warby Parker’s wildly successful AR “try-on” tool. But in being housed on YouTube, this technology stands to allow a multitude of brands to affordably and effectively use this method to let prospective buyers “test drive” makeup, eyewear, jewelry, and perhaps even eventually apparel.

Facebook and Instagram: Sparking New Connections with Open AR

Following in the footsteps of Snapchat’s opening of their Lens Studio last year, Facebook and Instagram have opened their Spark AR development program to the wider public. What should result is a massive increase in AR filters available to the public…and the prospect of a new economy for them, perhaps for brands and marketers.

AR filters were first introduced to Instagram in May 2018, but surged in creation and population when more creators joined the program that October. Now, after months of letting invited creators make filters, the program is widely open. Engadget reports that the company has a plan for any resulting virality to be properly credited:

When a creator’s followers see a new filter or effect, they can share it in their Stories. Their followers can do the same thing. That could help filters go viral, and thanks to a small tag on the bottom, the original creator should get full credit.

In many ways, this feels like when Snapchat first allowed for the possibility of geotags. After creators started making them in high volume, organizations and brands seized the opportunity to work with creators and develop event-, brand-, or organization-specific tags. The same could also be true for AR filters. If a company wanted a custom filter for an upcoming promotion, creators are now easy to find and hopefully build a relationship with. And with one billion people reportedly using AR effects created with Spark across Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and their Portal device, the possible audience for such custom work could be massive.

As we think about the next frontier of dynamic content designed to captivate and convince our customers, AR is increasingly looking to be a valuable piece of that strategy. Several platforms are building the capacity to help us do that work; we should look to these spaces as our strategy continues to evolve.

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