Way back in October, Facebook introduced support for interactive 3D objects onto its news feed with basic functionality. But updates made to the platform just last week—including higher-quality visuals and easier sharing—have enabled brands to adopt the tech for their campaigns.
Some of the brands already adopting this tech include Lego, which posted a parrot made from toy bricks; Sony, which created a 3D photo of a real-world object using an Xperia XZ1 phone and its 3D Creator software; Supercell’s Clash Royale, which showed a 3D model of its new Magic Archer character; and Wayfair, which showcased three real-life furniture pieces in a single “virtual living room” post with a link to purchase them.
Using Facebook 3D posts, artists, developers and businesses can give users detailed virtual objects that can be rotated, examined and shared from computers and mobile devices directly from their news feed natively instead of relying on third-party applications. Brands benefit by engaging Facebook audiences using creatives that audiences can potentially collect and share.
The 3D posts are separate from Facebook’s augmented reality camera effects, which work similarly to Snapchat lenses to superimpose objects onto the real world, because interaction occurs directly from the news feed—which doesn’t support AR yet.
NBCUniversal’s campaign shows how these two features can work together. The network posted a 3D model of the famed velociraptor to promote Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, which links to a complementary AR camera effect where the dinosaur can be placed into the real world and roars at you.
Shrenik Sadalgi, Wayfair’s director of next gen experiences, said that the home goods seller was attracted by the feature because users can discover, visualize and interact with 3D models of its products from their news feeds.
“Shopping for home is highly visual, and 3D posts allow us to create a visually rich and interactive experience, while enabling our customers to engage with our products and brand in a meaningful way,” said Sadalgi.
Sadalgi added that the use of 3D posts will be in line with Wayfair’s current social and marketing efforts, and as an early adopter, the company continues to explore new ways to leverage 3D posts to enhance the shopping experience using engaging content.
As brands develop more 3D content for the news feed, user feedback will likely shape products and the way brands engage with them. But for the time being, 3D posts have some significant limitations.
“Currently, 3D is being distributed and consumed in simple small bites, but as technology and usage evolves, the content will get richer and more complex, leading to more visually rich and interactive posts,” Sadalgi said.
Ara Parikh, product marketing manager at OmniVirt, an VR/AR advertising platform, explains that there are a number of benefits Facebook 3D posts brings to brands. Parikh said that brands view the feature favorably and are embracing 3D models and AR to help increase engagement as opposed to having users passively scroll past banner ads. As more creators make use of the feature, “brands can take advantage of Facebook essentially training users to embrace and champion this format, without having to do that work themselves.”
Parikh also notes a current limitation: brands are beholden to advertising on that platform, which goes against Facebook’s recent algorithm change demoting brand posts. But opportunity to have users view 3D experiences without having to download a separate application may be too great for brands to overlook.
“Overall, it’s a positive shift towards the new wave of immersive media and brands are going to the lead the way in pushing this medium,” said Parikh.
Offering virtual objects is an an emerging form of engagement, exemplified by platforms such as Quidd, an online marketplace where users can pick up and trade virtual goods such as licensed 3D toys from Funko to connect with TV shows such as Star Trek, Rick and Morty, Game of Thrones and others. The company’s CEO and co-founder Michael Bramlage told AListDaily in a separate interview that the platform mainly appeals to millennial females, many of whom have grown accustomed to interacting with each other digitally using GIFs and stickers.
Facebook 3D objects can also be brought into Facebook Spaces—an experimental VR social platform—where users can interact with them. That is the extent of its cross-platform capabilities for now, but there are more enhancements being developed. Eventually, 3D posts will support higher-quality 3D models, interactive animations and having objects placed in the real world using augmented reality.
Lucy Bradshaw, product manager of Facebook social VR, told AListDaily that 3D posts will eventually open the way for objects to be shared across multiple platforms including AR, VR, mobile and web. Facebook regards 3D posts as an additional medium, evolved from photos and videos, that allows people to share the things that they care about.
“With 3D posts, we ultimately want to enable people to tell a mini-story on Facebook, with interactive three-dimensional objects and even whole scenes,” she said. “We envision a future digital world where people can share these immersive experiences across VR, AR and Facebook news feed seamlessly.”