Facebook is testing augmented reality ads that will allow users to try on products virtually directly from their news feeds, in another competitive move with Snapchat.
Announced at a Facebook holiday shopping event in New York on Tuesday (July 10), this is an indication that the social media platform is further investigating tools to harness the user’s smartphone camera.
“Better marketing equals better shopping,” said Ty Ahmad-Taylor, VP of product marketing at Facebook. “You connect with [customers] in a way that’s unusual and new, and you can deliver messages to them in a format they want to accept.”
Currently trialling in the US throughout the summer, brands such as Michael Kors, Bobbi Brown, Wayfair and Sephora are already on board. The Michael Kors advert, for example, allows users to tap a visual to virtually try on sunglasses; meanwhile, homewares brand Wayfair allows the user to tap to visualize a piece of furniture in their home.
In May, Facebook announced an augmented reality capability on Messenger that allows brands to speak to users in a more experiential manner. Nike, for instance, trialled the feature via its SNKRS chatbot to unlock an AR experience where users could buy limited edition shoes. The launch of AR-enabled advertising is a natural progression for the platform, who in 2016 bought AR face filter app MSQRD.
Meanwhile, other social media platforms where visuals are a pivotal part of the user experience, have also been quick to harness the potential of AR. Snapchat has recently also teamed up with Nike to offer an AR experience that was geo-fenced and allowed users to buy limited edition shoes (which sold out in 23 minutes).
Instagram however is evolving its booming Stories feature – which as of May 2018 had 150m daily active users – to allow brands that are advertising to add stickers that click through to e-commerce pages. As users migrate from Snapchat‘s ephemeral experience to the very similar functionality found on Instagram Stories, AR will undoubtedly play a very important role in how the popular feature evolves.
As technologies such as augmented reality and image recognition mature, social media platforms are going to continue to fight for an ever bigger slice of its users’ mobile behaviors – in this case, the smartphone camera.