Good Morning McCann with Facebook & Instagram
Last Wednesday, we had the pleasure of hosting a panel with representatives from Facebook + Instagram, discussing the opportunities of augmented reality (AR) and Spark AR, the brand’s online platform for creators to develop AR filters. While AR has been in the marketing vernacular for a while, the technology is still at its infancy and the potential for brands has barely been scratched.
To clear up any doubts, AR is not to be confused with virtual reality (VR). The former is a technology that superimposes an image on a user's view of the real world (i.e. Snapchat’s bunny ears, Pokémon Go) while VR places the user inside the experience, using computer technology to create a simulated environment.
AR offers many opportunities for advertisers to create something new and immersive while increasing customer interaction. However, it is important to understand that solely replicating a commercial in a filter won’t do it. Rather, the focus should be put on solving an actual problem. Juan Ciapessoni, one of our panelists and founder of The Electric Factory, shared a solution his company developed for Lancôme. The brand knew it took an average of 10 years for women to find the perfect foundation. As a result, the Electric Factory developed an experience allowing users to test out different shades and purchase the one they liked the most.
Another element to take into consideration when thinking about AR is discoverability. Units such as QR codes, in-ad filters or social feeds redirecting to the filter have helped promote these initiatives.
As seen with the Spark AR platform, Facebook has taken a proactive stance in empowering creators in making the most out of AR. Elizabeth Valleau, AR specialist at Facebook Creative Studios, walked us through some of the platform’s alphas and betas,namely, the ability to track body motions, create a background segmentation (when a person is separated from the background), and semantics scene understanding (when the camera recognizes that a user is in a specific location such as the kitchen), amongst others. Using this platform requires no design or coding skills, making it easy for creators to develop custom filters.
AR functionalities are increasingly evolving; however, it is important for brands to look beyond the gimmicky aspect. There is an opportunity to use AR for a greater brand purpose, to make them more human and keep customers better informed. It’s also an opportunity to share brand values and ideals, an invitation for people to look into what a brand stands for.