Harness the Power of AR to Create Unforgettable Brand Experiences

How augmented reality is transforming in-game advertising this year

In the shifting landscape of household entertainment, the smartphone and other tech devices have taken over the traditional TV screen. And as smartphones have become increasingly integral to daily life, the growing popularity of mobile gaming has propelled the use of augmented reality (AR) into uncharted territories.

This trend not only captivates audiences but also provides innovative opportunities for marketing that go well beyond traditional ad formats. AR integration in gaming serves as a powerful tool for brands to deliver intrinsically personalized experiences to their audiences.

The growing AR ad marketplace

Leveraging the significant advancement brought by devices like the Apple Vision Pro, AR is further evolving through innovative mechanics that use movements, gestures and spatial awareness to deliver groundbreaking experiences.

As more people embrace emerging AR technologies, there will be a notable rise in AR ad inventory, offering a diverse range of immersive social and in-game experiences. Niantic, known for the success of the world’s most popular mobile AR game, Pokémon GO, leads the charge in implementing these techniques across a portfolio of mobile games. Expanding with titles like Monster Hunter Now—nominated for best mobile games in 2023—Niantic leverages AR’s unique capabilities to shape the ever-evolving gaming landscape.

However, as a brand, engaging players without interrupting their gameplay is key. Rewarded AR Ads, integrated in both Pokémon GO and Monster Hunter Now, allow players to engage with branded 3D elements in their environment, providing a more imaginative and impactful brand experience that captures players’ interest. While these premium Rewarded AR ad formats are primarily available on Niantic’s mobile gaming platforms, demand and adoption of this AR ad technology are rising.

Foster interest through AR innovation

According to Emodo’s recent study about the growing trends of AR advertising, 68% of users engaged in AR ad experiences reflect positively on the brand. This underscores the impact of AR innovation in advertising—the ability to enhance user experience through immersive, interactive environments and tailoring those experiences to individuals for maximum relevance and engagement.

Known for convenient and customizable real food that powers kids forward throughout the day, Lunchables teamed up with Niantic to create a Rewarded AR ad campaign as part of its Lunchables Playables gaming rewards brand initiative. This partnership aimed to inspire people to unleash their creativity by constructing their own digital Lunchables, ranging from a helicopter to an Eiffel Tower. To maximize this opportunity, Lunchables designed six distinct builds for users to create in-game, encouraging engagement and combating creative fatigue.

Developing multiple AR ad creatives was instrumental in fully immersing players in the Lunchables brand. This strategy exposed players to the Lunchables Playables program and piqued their curiosity, encouraging them to explore all the unique Lunchables builds available. This approach transformed the Rewarded AR ad campaign into a journey of brand discovery.

Tailor impactful experiences to unique environments

AR advertisements, featuring distinctive elements at each interaction, leave a lasting impact on users. Accenture’s research indicates that 50% of consumers have a stronger recall of brands that engage them with immersive technologies. By integrating multi-sensory experiences and innovative AR technology into advertising campaigns, brands enhance retention among audiences and surpass the effectiveness of traditional advertising methods.

In Mattel’s latest Rewarded AR ad campaign in collaboration with Niantic, the brand created two distinctive AR creatives for its campaign. Featuring the buildable Forest Pokémon Center and buildable Motion Charizard, Mattel highlighted MEGA building sets from the beloved Pokémon Franchise, perfectly timed for the holiday season. Adult builders could watch as Motion Charizard materialized before them while the Pokémon Center depicted the motion of different functional parts within a hospital environment.

People interacted with customized 3D creations in their environment, providing a unique view of the product and fostering positive brand association, ultimately boosting overall brand recall. As spatial computing in AR emerges as the next frontier of personalization, this is a significant opportunity for advertisers as they explore new approaches to personalized ad experiences in response to changing marketplace dynamics, including the effects of cookie depreciation.

The power of integrating AR ads in-game transcends the limitations of traditional advertising to create deeper brand engagement and a lasting impression on the audience. By bringing a brand to life through innovative and rewarding AR solutions, players will be left with an unforgettable experience across their entire gaming journey.       

Adam Shlachter is head of partner marketing at Niantic, responsible for working hand-in-hand with brands and agencies to create innovative and immersive marketing programs that drive real-world business results.