Tag: AR

How Google is Preparing for Fully Immersive AR Environments

Since its inception, one of the biggest use cases of AR on mobile remains the ability to play with your appearance whether through clothes, accessories, or makeup. Snapchat and Instagram are no stranger to this trend, and now Google is making its mark in the space with its own update.

Specifically, the tech giant tapped ModiFace and Perfect Corp, two companies highly involved in AR beauty technologies, to deliver a feature that gives online shoppers a way to virtually try on makeup without having to deviate from their Search results.

Separately, Google teamed up with Snapchat to put an immersive twist on its ‘Year in Search’ trends overview. Here’s a high-level overview of the latest.

Bringing the benefits of in-store shopping to mobile

Similar to YouTube’s AR feature for makeup try-on launched last year, Google’s latest push utilizes top brands including L’Oréal, Estée Lauder, MAC Cosmetics, Black Opal, and Charlotte Tilbury allowing consumers to try on a variety of makeup products without having to set foot in a store to test the look and feel.

Here’s how it works: When a user searches for a particular lipstick or eyeshadow product such as— “L’Oréal’s Infallible Paints Metallic Eyeshadow,” — they’ll be directed to the virtual try-on shopping experience at the top of their search results. From there, they can browse a library of photos of models representing a range of skin tones to help compare the shades and find the right product for them

“Seventy-three percent of U.S. shoppers are planning to buy online,” said Archana Kannan, Group Product Manager, Shopping and author of the announcement regarding this past holiday season’s expectations. “There are plenty of perks with online shopping, from the convenience of doing it from your couch to the multitude of options right at your fingertips.”

Details aside — the key takeaway here is that more than ever consumers are finding out about products from social media, then clicking through direct links to retailers to make purchases or even transacting directly on social platforms like Facebook or Instagram without leaving the app. A big driver of this shift? Influencers.

Endorsements from experts and enthusiasts

As part of the effort, Google is taking into consideration how consumers ultimately make their decision and a big trend as of late is recommendations from trusted sources like influencers.

In this vein, the company is unveiling recommendations from beauty, apparel and home and garden enthusiasts and experts, including online influencers, when a consumer browses Google Shopping on their phone. For example, hear the latest from professional makeup artist Jonet about makeup looks, or get holiday gift ideas from Homesick Candles.

“Sometimes it’s helpful to get recommendations and see how products work for other people,” explained Kannan. “Once you’ve found a product you love, you’ll be able to easily shop these recommendations.” This feature comes from Shoploop, a product formerly part of Area 120, Google’s in-house incubator.

The ‘Year in Search’ AR experience

The end of the year always seems to be nostalgic and Google and Snapchat are leaning into this in an innovative way. A new Google Lens accessible through Snapchat gives users an interactive walk down memory lane of all the key events of 2020 and noteworthy insights.

For instance, clicking on a photo of a Black Lives Matter protest highlights that compared to the previous year, searches of the term were up five-fold. Further, searches for “protest near me” were made in every state in the country for the first time ever.

“As 2020 comes to an end, Snap and Google have partnered to bring Google’s iconic “Year in Search” story to life with an immersive augmented reality experience. This marks the first time Google’s “Year in Search” has been brought to life in AR, and the campaign’s debut on Snapchat.”

Additionally, Snapchat also reports that for the first time Google will run its “Year in Search” video as ads on the platform.

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How Custom Instagram AR Filters Can Boost Your Brand’s Personality

Augmented reality (AR) filters have been introduced to Instagram since 2017, but more recently the feature has found new momentum through parent company Facebook’s Spark AR Studio, a platform launched in August 2019 that allows users to create customized AR filters for Instagram Stories, Facebook Stories, Messenger and Portal.

According to Instagram, one-third of the most viewed Stories on the platform come from businesses and more than 200 million users visit at least one business account each day. While that isn’t to say this tool may be right for every brand, these stats are reason enough to at least test the waters.

Here, we break down the steps for how you can get started, the key benefits it can offer your brand, and a few examples in action to help kick-start your inspiration:

Why create your own original filters?

A primary way creating your own filter can help leverage your brand is by more accurately depicting your brand’s style, flair, and tone of voice — especially if this falls into the fun and playful category. In a sea of information, these elements are critical for forging sustainable relationships and rising above the noise.

Per a Nielsen Catalina study, 56 percent of a brand’s sales lift from digital advertising can be attributed to the quality of the creative. This is largely due to the ability this offers to inform buying decisions. Using our AR filter example, potential customers can “try on” a product before making a purchase. Self-promotion aside, filters can also be used to show the human side to your brand by demonstrating your support for social causes.

Finally, a big draw of creating AR filters for your brand is increased awareness. Anyone visiting your brand’s Instagram profile can click the new face icon to see the AR filters you’ve created. When they share a selfie using one of your filters, their followers, both current and potential, will be exposed to your brand. There’s also an “upload” button that users can use to pocket their favorites for future photos.

For more general context on the growth and power behind the Stories platform, more than 500 million accounts use Stories every day and one-third of the most viewed Stories are from businesses.

Examples in action

Here are just a few samples of brands putting AR filters to use to drive brand awareness and have some fun:

Coca Cola Poland uses the Studio’s World Object Template in a filter that superimposes the brand’s polar bear on top of the real world.

Inès Longevial, a French painter and illustrator who boasts nearly 300k followers on the platform uses the ‘Save the Planet Mask’ to show her support for climate change and a ‘Flower Mask’ to highlight her creative passion and talent.

Ray-Ban launched a Reindeerized filter as a way for consumers to playfully interact with the brand and virtually try on a pair of sunglasses prior to buying.

Getting started: 5 simple steps

If seeing some examples and exploring value-adds for your brand was enough to convince you to get AR filters a try, it’s time to get creative!

Fortunately, getting started with Spark AR Studio is very simple, here are the five steps you’ll need to follow:

1. Download Spark AR Studio.

2. Get familiar.

Take a spin through the tutorials in the Learning Center to familiarize yourself with the platform and interface.

As part of the exercise, you’ll download a sample folder of content to use to follow along, which includes a 3D object (like the polar bear).

3. Start your first project.

You can create a project from scratch or by building off one of eight existing templates. A few important terms to keep in mind include the ‘Stimulator,’ where you’ll preview your work. The default is an iPhone 8 screen, but this can be changed to another device. The other is the ‘Scene panel.’ This is are where all your options live to edit your filter.

4. Test and publish.

Send a test file to Instagram or Facebook to see how your work looks like if it were live within Instagram or Facebook Stories. Alternatively, you can download the Spark AR Player app and preview there.

Once you’re set, press the “upload” button in the bottom left-hand corner directly below the “test on device” button. Note that your new effect won’t be published immediately. First, it will be reviewed to ensure it meets Spark AR’s policies and guidelines.

5. Continue learning!

There’s an endless supply of tutorials in the Learning Center. As you get more confident in your creations, experiment with ways to take your designs to new heights including

  • Using face tracking effects to create a filter that responds to movement
  • Adding hand trackers that make your filter responsive to someone’s touch
  • Creating world effects
  • Incorporating audio

As we encounter opportunities to embrace new forms of technology, it is important to remember that we can move forward innovating without losing what is core to us as people. Whether AR-driven or otherwise, we can highlight the elements of our business that are unique and that demonstrate a deeper level of understanding of consumers.

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Why Messaging and AR Are The Next-Level Ad Options Your Brand Shouldn’t Overlook

In a digital era where time and attention are critical investments, it’s more important than ever to take a hard look at how consumers are spending their time, why and who they’re choosing to spend it with, and the best ways to harness our influence to tailor opportunities in meaningful ways.

Two major ways platforms such as Facebook are addressing this issue is by delivering immersive and personal experiences through emerging technologies such as augmented reality and mobile messaging.

Click to message with brands in Messenger

Facebook is bringing together two of its fastest-growing mediums to help businesses more efficiently and effectively reach their audience and drive engagement: Messenger and Stories.

“We know that people want personal and engaging communications. Technology has fulfilled that expectation with the ever-growing popularity of messaging and stories,” said Mohit Rajani, Lead Product Manager, in the official announcement.

More specifically, the platform currently sees over 1.3 billion people connect with friends and family across its family of apps each month including Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and Whatsapp and 500 million posts to Stories each day. With 40 million active businesses on Messenger to date and three million brands running ads on the apps every month it really isn’t difficult to conclude why this move would make sense.

“We know that when businesses place ads across a range of surfaces, including news feed and stories, it leads to an increase in conversions. This particular trend holds when businesses add multiple stories placements to their campaigns as well,” Rajani added.

In support of this notion, the company ran a test which found that seven out of nine brands that added the Messenger Stories placement to its campaigns on Stories saw increased conversions spanning app installs, add to carts (ATCs), purchases, or registrations compared to campaigns that opted into single stories placements.

Now that we know the why and what surrounding this update, let’s distill how it works and the implications that it brings to the discussion table:

At its core, the feature puts users in the driver seat, giving them the ability to swipe up on Stories ads that have the new “Send Message” call to action to start a conversation with businesses of their choosing within Messenger without ever having to deviate from the app.

For advertisers, especially those with longer conversion cycles, this added engagement mechanism stands to be a huge boon for business. Small groups continue to be a fast-growing area of communication. Today’s users desire privacy, convenience, and personalization in safe and trusted spaces and messaging and ephemeral marketing are increasingly being looked at as sources of solutions.

Shop with augmented reality in Instagram

On the heels of its in-app checkout feature launched in March, Instagram is adding to its shopping features arsenal, with an augmented reality try-on feature to its product pages targeted to help shoppers in the platform preview how certain types of products would actually look like on them.

Per Mashable, the initial test phase is limited to cosmetics brands Mac and Nars, and eyewear brands Warby Parker and Ray-Ban, but Instagram plans to make it available for more products after gauging success.

Users can anticipate encountering the feature in two possible scenarios. Primarily, they’ll be able to try on products when browsing through brand accounts before tapping ‘add to cart.’ A much more impactful goal of the update, however, is generating an incentive to share these AR experiences in Stories, which will also link back to the original product and fuel virality for brands.

“You can share it through Stories with friends, brands can create Stories — that’s definitely one of the primary ways in which we think that people will shop,” says Srilatha Raghavan, product manager for AR commerce at Facebook.

Indeed, these added layers of communication allow us to improve how we drive top-of-mind awareness and present the unique ability to participate in conversations we were never able to before. The future of relationship marketing is a transitional environment where users favor experiences over products and these sorts of advertising opportunities stand to open doors for brands looking to leverage the trends and next-level technology needed to stay relevant.

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

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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