As platforms battle for the attention of brands in an era of uncertain marketing budgets, their differentiation efforts have shifted markedly towards solving ROI-related problems for brand marketers—like boosting audience engagement and providing granular performance metrics. That led to a new release of AR advertising options from Meta and Snap. Below, we’ll look at what’s new and how marketers might benefit.
AR Is Everywhere: Meta And Snap Want Marketers To Care
Meta and Snap are rolling out new advertising options designed to position AR—traditionally an underutilized but often performant advertising tool as a new solution for audience engagement and analytics visibility. As tracking cookies disappear and consumers resist app tracking in increasing numbers, marketers are scrambling for deeper audience insights, Snap and Meta are hoping that marketers concerned about metrics and audience engagement will see AR as a cross-platform marketing tool as well as a new landscape for branded content creation built for lean, cookie-less times.
AR marketing is already growing at a stunning rate. According to Statista, by 2025, global AR ad revenue is projected to grow to $6.68 billion, up $1.36 billion in 2020.
Part of this may be marketers’ lower confidence in traditional marketing segments—like streaming. According to Nielsen, just 42 percent of marketers believe that their streaming budgets deliver on ROI, and only 54 percent are confident in any digital channel providing the performance they seek.
Those concerns may have contributed to the AR marketing boon.
According to Statista, 37 percent of marketers who are aware of the marketing applications of the Metaverse said they would spend between 10 and 25 percent of their budget on Metaverse marketing and advertising, including AR, in 2023. Another 30 percent stated they would spend between five and nine percent of their budget on metaverse marketing and advertising. Respectable, but not a landslide of investment. Those numbers may lift if Meta and Snap’s most recent reveals of new AR advertising options at the recent IAB NewFronts land with marketers.
Meta and Snap have reason to be optimistic. According to Shopify, referencing a joint report by Deloitte for Snap, 75 percent of all consumers will likely use AR in their daily lives by 2025, with 76 percent stating that they expect and desire to use AR as a practical tool in the future. In addition, per the report, consumers who interacted with products that were connected with AR experiences showed a 94 percent higher conversion rate than those consumers who did not.
That good news is backed up by recent research—but with a caveat.
While a recent survey found that 70 percent of consumers stated that they wanted more AR-driven ad experiences, and 74 percent stated AR ads capture their attention better than static ads, much of this may have to do with AR’s newness.
“We conducted eye-tracking experiments that demonstrate AR advertisements indirectly increase consumers’ attitude toward the ad through an increase in curiosity and attention toward the ad,” reads a 2020 joint report from The University of Richmond, Hunan University, and Donghua University. “However, these effects only hold when consumers are unfamiliar with AR ad technology; as consumers become more familiar with AR ad technology, its serial effect through curiosity and attention on attitude toward the ad diminishes.”
More recent studies have shown that AR ads perform better in terms of ad reception, brand perception and purchase intention. Still, research also shows that context and powerful content—even when AR ads are not new to the viewer—unlock AR’s full potential to engage users.
When combined with social experience, more recent studies state AR deepens and intensifies the impact of the ad when the content facilitates social sharing, hence enhancing the social nature of consumers’ human interactions online.
That makes AR a powerful tool for marketers—and an opportunity for Meta and Snap.
What Snap’s And Meta’s New Ad Options Mean For Marketers
Snap has been a long-time player in the AR space, but starting in 2021, the brand began broadly promoting its leadership in the AR space as a reason for brands to delve into the possibilities of AR advertising. And rather than promoting the use of AR as an add-on to add campaigns, Snap promoted its AR and VR hardware in tandem with its brand marketing options, presenting enterprise AR rooted in Snap Lens use as a new, separate content experience.
At the recent IAB NewFronts, Snap leaned heavily into content, announcing new options for brands to work with influencers via the Snap Collab Studio, reserve priority video ad placement via First Story, and leverage sports content to reach new audiences through Snap’s sports partnerships. Each component of Snap’s new offerings is integrated with the company’s push to get its AR tech out to more brands by making integrating AR components into ads on any platform easier.
Meta’s IAB NewFronts announcement showed that the company is aggressively attracting marketers seeking to solve measurement issues. The company announced the integration of AR with Reels ads and Facebook stories at the event, along with enterprise-grade analytics options specifically for AR.
“After you run your ad, you can analyze your results with metrics for augmented reality ads, including Instant experience view time and Effect shares,” a FAQ read. You can also create an AR Experience engagement custom audience to retarget people who engaged with your ad.”
Metrics available for Meta AR instant experience ads include “Effect Share” which allows marketers to see how many times a viewer shared an effect from an ad across the Meta ecosystem—allowing marketers to track the impact of a new AR component separately from other content.
Meta’s new integration of AR means that product views and e-commerce can “grow up” on Facebook and Instagram with the same powerful AR effects that consumers find on e-commerce sites. Meta could provide brand marketers with new ways to A/B test e-commerce strategies, as AR tools could let audiences connect with products without leaving their stories stream. In addition, the AR integration could allow creators to create and sell branded Web 3, like NFTs, via a live shopping event while allowing consumers to interact with or examine the new work before purchasing. In addition, the ability to track Effect shares allows marketers to get a clear view of how much (or how little) AR moves the audience engagement needle.
Snap is making it easier for brand marketers seeking to engage audiences with new types of content to integrate AR experiences with campaigns on their platforms. At the same time, Snap is opening up new options for brands to connect with “Snap Stars,” who can create AR-driven branded content for the platform’s younger-skewing audience. That means brands can leverage the full range of Snap’s creator-friendly tools—like Snap Lens—to build content that can work for social commerce strategies with add-ons like Shopify.