There’s growing sentiment in the mobile AR world that apps aren’t the optimal vessel. Yet the technology lives on a device where apps rule. 90 percent of mobile users’ time is spent in apps versus the browser. Can AR break that cycle? And if so, could web AR be the answer?
What is web AR? In short, it delivers AR experiences through the mobile browser. Advantages include dynamism for AR’s serendipity and short sessions, versus the friction of app stores and downloads. There, “activation energy” dampens already-challenged AR adoption.
For example, will consumers spend 90 seconds downloading an app for an experience that lasts 30 seconds? Consider this in light of dynamic AR activations within a store aisle or real-world social interaction. These scenarios happen fast and need AR formats that can be the same.
In these moments of dynamic activation, AR formats that can launch with minimal friction and maximum compatibility will gain the most traction. These factors will also grow in importance as brands and retailers increasingly plant AR activation markers on products and spaces.
But how will web AR reach that potential? What are best practices for web AR experiences and marketing campaigns? And who’s doing it right so far? Our research arm ARtillery Intelligence tackled these questions in its recent report, which we’ve excerpted below.
Show Rather than Tell
Picking up where we left off in examining Web AR opportunities and strategies, what are proof points for the technology? Web AR continues to be used in brand marketing, as the playbook is gradually being written. To show rather than tell, here are 3 mini case studies.
The first case study comes to us from Huggies. To enliven the launch of its new Dry Xpert product line, it developed a web AR campaign in partnership with 8th Wall. Triggered by a QR code on select Huggies packaging, the AR experience featured interactive demonstrations.
To activate the experience, users scanned the QR code using an iOS or Android device. They would then see water rise on their screen as if their physical space was flooding. They could then press a red “absorb” button to stop the flooding with the Huggies Dry Xpert product.
After the game-like experience was complete, users were prompted to share it with friends through popular social channels. Altogether, the campaign’s strengths include QR code activation on existing packaging, a fun/cheeky experience, and baked-in virality for additional distribution.
And the results? Huggies achieved a 5.2 percent scan rate and an average engagement time of 1:03 minutes. The latter is notable, given that online video – the closest equivalent to mobile AR – has an average engagement time of about 20 seconds.
Sponge on the Run
Moving on to the second case study, Viacom CBS was interested in finding immersive ways to promote its SpongeBob Movie: “Sponge on the Run.” Working with AR studio Poplar, it launched a web AR experience that was prompted by calls to action in social media and other channels.
As for the experience itself, users were greeted by a trailer, then immediately taken to an AR face effect that emulated the film’s protagonist. The effect was activated when the user opened his or her mouth in response to a verbal cue from the movie characters.
For an additional viral kick, users were then prompted to capture an image of themselves and share it on social media. Finally, users were redirected to a page that promoted the campaign’s associated sweepstakes that involved finding special codes on a series of retail products.
Altogether, the campaign’s strengths included social distribution, promotion through several channels, a fun/whimsical experience that’s on-brand with the movie’s persona, and a seamless clickstream to bring users to intended actions, such as the sweepstakes.
And the results? The campaign was part of a national program featured on over 22 million products, which drove a 29 percent lift in sales and helped drive 181,000 entries to the weekly sweepstakes. The AR components specifically reached 15,797 monthly active users (MAUs).
It’s also worth noting that MAU’s grew 6,000 percent in the campaign’s second month due to Viacom CBS’ promotional efforts. This demonstrates that omnichannel approaches can amplify AR engagement and success, as the “whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
As web AR marketing activations continue to demonstrate, the technology can enable everything from remote product visualization to in-store shopping. And it spans utilitarian (contextualizing products) and whimsical (promoting film releases) use cases.
In the latter camp is 7-Eleven. Its AR activations include in-aisle games, such as throwing virtual footballs at animated Reese’s-branded blimps (rear-facing camera). There are also selfie lenses of giant Dorito hats (front-facing camera) that shoppers can play with.
In all cases, the goal is to boost brand engagement in a high buying-intent zone (store aisle). This is a form of AR we’re very bullish on, given that buying intent and in-context use. These gamified and whimsical product tie-ins are also fitting to 7-Eleven’s brand persona.
And the results? 7-Eleven was able to reach 10 million in-store lens engagements from a total of more than 30 campaigns. This is just one form of in-aisle AR advertising that will grow. Another will be visual search which involves pointing one’s phone at a product to get more information.
Meanwhile, 7-Eleven’s AR integrations are likewise on-brand, which is a lesson in choosing your flavor of AR wisely. This will continue to be a moving target, which is why close attention to best practices like this are a key exercise in AR’s early days.
We’ll pause there and pick things up in the next report excerpt…