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Why Spark AR will be the next big thing

I’ve long been a fan of interactive mobile ads and their potential to engage users. In the last 10 years, a wide range of fanciful rich media ads appeared on our mobile devices, including selfie, photo sharing, gamification and social sharing ads. However, most of the time these ads were gimmicks and difficult to scale.

There has always been an underlying demand from advertisers to have an ad experience that combines interactivity, a sense of fun and more importantly a chance to share on social media. Everyone wants their ad to become viral: advertisers dream of transporting a user to magical places for wonderful experiences and tell the world about it.

As the market has matured, we are now seeing Snapchat and Spark AR ads successfully appeal to advertiser demands. The difference with all previous rich media ads? Well, this gimmick is one that can easily scale.

How SparkAR will become mainstream

The battle of the Augmented Reality Ads all started when SnapChat opened up to advertising and ‘sponsored’ filters; Facebook and Instagram have been hot on their heels ever since. In the AR Ad game, Snapchat have always been one step ahead in terms of technological developments, however Instagram has the reach and growth potential that Snap can only dream of.

When Snap released their ad platform, it was seen as a little expensive and somewhat out of reach for some advertisers. They have however excelled in their range of filters and focussed much of their development manpower in this space. Facebook and Instagram have taken slightly different routes by opening up SparkAR to developers around the globe.

“Snapchat have always been one step ahead in terms of technological developments, however Instagram has the reach and growth potential that Snap can only dream of.”

SparkAR was first introduced by developers in 2017, and the SparkAR studio was released for general use in 2019. This new release is now opening up the opportunity for advertisers to create filters for their campaigns and brand promotion and pay for extended media campaigns. Advertisers on the whole have exhausted the standard formats on Facebook and Instagram, and now need to move to something more innovative.

Facebook reported that more than 1 billion people have used camera face filters created on the SparkAR platform in 2019, and at any given time there are 500 million daily active users on Instagram, and its growing! Effectively the potential is huge.

What are the type of AR Ads available?

The main thing to consider for an AR ad is which camera is being used. The front facing camera (the selfie camera) is required when using masks or wanting to capture the person’s face for a filter type, pretty self explanatory. The rear facing camera, otherwise known as the main camera is mainly used for portal AR where users point their camera for experiencing new worlds or engaging with products.

Front Facing AR:

There are many great examples of AR ads ups around, including a great hook up with Game of Thrones in April 2017 which engaged hundreds and thousands of users and was easily shared. I never thought I’d see the day when a mobile ad was so willingly shared, but it’s pretty common now as long as the content is engaging, fun and ego inflating. Everyone loves fancy dress and face paint right?!

Front Facing AR

Image Credit: Game of Thones & SnapChat

Rear Facing AR:

Commonly known as portal AR, the rear camera can be used to face the environment around the user. There are some excellent examples of portal AR ads around, as well as some pretty average ones. In my opinion, these are the hardest to pull off.

Lufthansa have experimented really well with some beautiful AR animations triggered by posting the camera at an out of home poster. There are also some nice examples of checking out products using AR, the most common being someone spinning around a sneaker while shopping online.


Rear Facing AR

Image Credit: Kolle Rebe (Thomas Heinz)

Drawbacks with SparkAR

There are specifically a few drawbacks that are important to highlight: the main one is the approval process within Facebook. If a SparkAR ad filter is developed, it needs to go through rigorous testing within Facebook and Instagram. At times the approval process can take days, even weeks. Also, it’s not entirely straightforward on how advertisers are allowed to brand their filters: for example, Instagram does not allow logos on the filters as they have noticed share-ability is much lower.

AR Summary

Be prepared for some pretty talented AR developers to produce some really fun engaging ads in 2020 that will be shared by millions of users around the worth. Engaging stealth advertising is here, share it!

AGCS concept, design and develop SparkAR ads for their clients. Contact us for more info.


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