Opportunities for Advertising With Augmented Reality Are More Popular Than Ever

This is thanks in large part to more accessible programmatic platforms

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Most investors and many marketers I speak with don’t quite realize what’s happening with AR ads today. I anticipate that AR advertising will account for at least 10 percent and as much as 25 percent of digital ad spending by the end of 2019.

AR ads are performing incredibly well, with conversion rates in the 20–80 percent range. A number of major brands (NBA, Gucci, Ariana Grande, Sephora, Wayfair) are already growing their audience base and building brand loyalty with AR ads.

All the major platforms, including Snap, Facebook and Instagram, have opened up AR advertising capabilities beyond their initial test phase. In Snap‘s case, the ability to buy ads programmatically is already live. Facebook and Unity will certainly soon follow based on their successes so far.

AR advertising has moved beyond a pet-project of marketing research and development. With access to programmatic platforms, brands can now execute AR advertising at scale.

So, how do you get going? Like any other form of advertising, you start with the basics.

If you work for or with a brand, large or small, you need to start creating AR experiences and buying AR ads now. It will be an integral part of your marketing strategy and represent where all of your customers already are: in the camera.

With access to programmatic platforms, brands can now execute AR advertising at scale.

Start with the content. The cardinal rules are to do something meaningful for your audience, make the user experience the very best it can be and ensure it serves your brand in a productive way. Talk to your designer, and I bet you’ll find not just good content that already exists but that they’re already playing with AR.

Be prepared to frequently update and iterate. The most successful marketers vary their promotional creative regularly and build internal processes to support a high rate of customization based on products and current events. This is especially important for a medium so apt for capitalizing on pop culture moments.

From there, make sure you understand your audience. Use organic AR tests to help define them. Let yourself be open to new customer segments that emerge outside of your traditional market. Finally, make sure your analytics are in order. As with any other form of advertising, you should be as metrics-driven as possible. Remember, it’s not all about CPM or CPA anymore. You’re driving users to take action, but in the process, you’re ideally making them a part of a brand experience.

Pay attention to your audience’s user-generated content so that you can reflect those values back to them. The beauty of AR is that it gives you incredible new insight into what captures your audience’s attention and focus and drives participation.

Most importantly, start now.

Online advertising started with banners and skyscrapers, monetized on a CPM basis and is essentially no different from print advertising. Things changed dramatically when Facebook started CPA advertising. CPA works great for moving inventory and is beautifully transactional and based on utility. It’s great at influencing what people do.

But what if you want someone’s attention or their loyalty? What if your goal is to turn a casual viewer into a super fan? CPA models are less strong for use cases that aim to influence what people think or how they behave.

Today, video ads fare the best for both brand and performance. Advertisers are smart enough to talk to us where we already spend time, in the feed or nested inside another lengthier video. But these ads are still interruptive. If I’m anxiously counting down the seconds until I’m allowed to skip, we’re still lost in the woods, fumbling around, desperately seeking the future of advertising.

AR ads will fare well for two reasons. The first is that they are non-interruptive. Think of AR advertising as akin to product placement. They are part of and live inside the content, contributing to the overall quality and stickiness of the experience itself. What we remember is incredibly 70 percent higher for AR experiences. Secondly, AR ads are profoundly under the user’s control. All other ad types are forced upon us without negotiation. AR ads are curiosities. They’re invitations, not intrusions. They’re artful, fun tools that consumers use to play and connect with brands they love.

Everyone else is going to catch on soon. The early returns are outstanding. The camera is the biggest opportunity for marketers in a decade, and maybe more. Fortune favors the bold, and right now, you can reap rewards disproportionate to your efforts.