The AR advertising landscape will evolve in ways that are similar to online and mobile advertising. Display ads (lenses) are out of the gate first, just like display ads were the first prevalent format on the web. Then ad formats expanded into other areas like search, messaging and email.

We’ve spent lots of time talking about AR in search a la Google Lens. But what about messaging? The act of texting businesses is growing as a function of millennial proclivities for messaging as a communication channel. Comfort levels are high in personal and commercial contexts.

According to Quiq’s recent report, The Future of Customer Conversations, 65 percent of consumers have engaged with brands over SMS or messaging apps. 70 percent have done so at least twice in the previous month. So it’s clearly growing as a customer engagement channel.

“We’re calling it ‘AR chat’,” said NexTech AR Solutions‘ Paul Duffy at AWE “If you’re a retailer thinking about commerce … the new battleground isn’t websites, it’s actually messaging apps — the conversational commerce happening day-in and day-out between customers and brands.”

Conversational Commerce

Nextech AR Solutions is big on this fusion of AR and messaging. It has applied its ARitize platform to this “conversational commerce” opportunity and has already tested it with a few consumer goods brands. The idea is that AR product visualization can launch directly from messaging apps.

In practical terms, there are a few ways this can play out. Brands can message their followers on Facebook Messenger and other messaging apps. As Nike did with its Kyrie 4 shoe drop, it can feature an AR activation for users to visualize a given product in their space (or on their face).

The other way it can happen is less of a “push” and more of an organic AR insertion in customer service contexts. As mentioned above, more and more consumers are conversing with brands over messaging channels. AR can add dimension to those threads with a visualization option.

In other words, live agents or bots (or both) can send users 3D product renderings to visualize in their immediate space. That can happen in the context of a product exchange or any customer query. NexTech has partnered with Live Person and shoe outfitter Tamara Mellon to do just that.

NexTech AR-enabled messaging

AR Vessel

This plays to AR’s strengths because these threads are already on a mobile device. Typed content can also signal agents to respond in optimal ways that lead consumers towards AR visualizations and, ultimately, conversions. And messaging is already transaction-enabled within most chat apps.

“Because they haven’t left the messaging app, the purchase can be handled in this case by Apple Pay,” said Duffy during a case study for Tamara Mellon. “The customer has taken the AR app, put it into their room, selected the product, and made the purchase all within that system.”

This is an example of AR’s rare “full funnel” abilities we often invoke. Besides being compelling to shoppers, brands are attracted to high conversion rates and measurability. That’s already the case per AR ad performance data, but bringing it to messaging could amplify the opportunity.

“In the spirit of removing friction in the customer journey and embedding yourself at those touchpoints where customers make decisions, this is one strong candidate for where AR makes a compelling difference,” said Duffy. “We think it’s going to be a great new battleground for AR.”

Like anything else, benefits will have to be proved over time. But messaging as a vessel for AR hits several marks of practicality and alignment with current consumer usage patterns. Meanwhile, Facebook has already validated it with a few branded AR lens campaigns. We’ll keep watching.

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Disclosure: AR Insider Editor Mike Boland sits on NexTech AR Solution’s Advisory Board. Disclosure and ethics policy can be seen here.

Header image credit: Facebook