AR continues to prove itself as a shopping tool. It can help consumers visualize products on “faces and spaces,” to make more informed decisions. This is amplified during a pandemic when it can bring back some of the product essence and dimension that’s lost in retail lockdowns.

AR meanwhile resonates on the sell side: brands and retailers. On one level, it appeals to their creative sensibilities — erstwhile stuck in 2D media — to demonstrate products in their full 3D glory. On a more practical level, they’re seeing real results from AR-based campaigns.

This is what we call “camera commerce” and it continues to be validated in case studies and figures we track from eCommerce leaders like Shopify. But another factor could amplify this: 5G. It could be a force multiplier for AR by enabling bandwidth-intensive experiences.

This idea is resonating, at least among 5G users. The latest data come from Ericsson Emodo, indicating consumer receptivity to AR ads. The telecom equipment maker polled 5G users on their AR marketing sentiments, which we’re spotlighting for this week’s Data Dive.

Data Dive: How is AR Boosting eCommerce?

Attention Grabbing

So what did Ericsson Emodo find out? In a survey of 300 5G phone owners, 61 percent reported that AR ads grab their attention more than non-AR ads. It also reports that the most popular formats for AR marketing are product try-ons, rear-facing product visualization, and portals.

To play devil’s advocate, it could be argued that this is a skewed sample, given that 5G phone ownership indicates early-adopter status, and thus not population-representative. However, two-thirds of respondents identify as “late adopters” and 5G wasn’t a driver in their phone choice.

Beyond survey sentiments, Ericsson Emodo also reports real campaign results. A campaign it ran for a convenience store chain saw a 3.79x delta over non AR benchmarks when measuring the AR ad’s resulting foot traffic. This aligns with several AR ad campaigns we’ve tracked.

“The same things that drove our brands to need that flagship store or need for consumers to touch and feel physically — you can accomplish using augmented reality,” Ericsson Emodo data strategy lead, Jake Moskowitz said at the Mobile Marketing Association’s Impact Conference.

AR Marketing: Best Practices & Case Studies, Volume I

Market Timing 

Another factor is timing, as noted above. The value that AR adds to e-commerce is evident in normal times. But it takes on new meaning during Covid-era retail lockdowns when the value of visualizing products remotely is amplified. It brings dimension back to shopping.

That dynamic is clear, but it’s unclear what will happen next. Will the tools discovered during this period create permanent habits through a “mere exposure effect?” If so, it could bode well for AR’s sustained use in a post-Covid world, and its continued rise as a shopping utility.

We’re seeing signs that this could be the case. This includes several converging trends such as the rise of 5G; and camera commerce’s ongoing feedback loop and positive reinforcement from successful brand AR activations. But most of all, it’s resonating with consumers.

“We’re seeing AR works up and down the funnel in our early tests,” Moskowitz said. “Those exposed to AR love AR.”

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