New ads in Facebook’s News Feed allow users to try out products in augmented reality (AR).
Designer clothes and accessories firm Michael Kors was the first brand to test the AR ads, enabling people to try on a pair of sunglasses and make a purchase based on their experience.
Users can click on the ad, prompting their smartphone’s camera to switch on to capture their face. They can then choose from a selection of sunglasses and see how they would look when trying them on.
Later this summer, Facebook will begin testing AR ads with other advertisers in fashion accessories, cosmetics, furniture, gaming and entertainment, and the company plans to roll out the technology more broadly to other industries over the course of the year.
Earlier this year, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) said that the use of AR in marketing is growing rapidly.
“By blending the physical and digital worlds and enabling users to actively shape their experiences, AR offers unique ways for marketers to interact with consumers,” the management consulting firm explained. “These can range from brand overlays, to navigation and wayfinding, to virtual showrooming.”
On the basis of 2017 data from Snapchat, Pokémon GO and other AR applications, BCG estimates that around one-third of all smartphone users in the US engage with AR at least monthly. Most are millennials (aged 19 to 34) or Generation Z (aged 18 or younger), and they use their smartphones and cameras continually throughout the day, communicating via images and video as much as they do through text and voice.
“This behaviour opens up an entirely new method for engaging with consumers — an interactive approach where the advertiser is a participant in the ‘conversation’ or activity rather than a company delivering a message,” BCG said.