Friday, 15 May, 2020 UTC



Augmented Reality(AR) has become a mass consumption medium by virtue of Camera effects and Face Filters available in almost all the smartphone app. Brands have started using them to reach their audience and engage in innovative ways.

One of the prime objective of any marketing effort is to drive user engagement in such a way that it’s less intrusive and accelerate brand percolation among audience.
Traditional media like images, videos, audio on different channels have been successful, however they have become obtrusive to the user which are easily ignored (the famous ad banner syndrome).
Face Filters first introduced by SnapChat and later Instagram (Camera effects) are one of the most used and engaging apps by millennials. They allow the audience to express in unique personal ways with apt customisation by users.
Companies have understood this well and have started investing in the new channel to reach their audience and allow them to engage with the brands.
However, many brand marketers are still alien to this concept and hence find it challenging to use this social media channel of Augmented Reality and launch an effective campaign and measure the ROI.

Trending AR VR Articles:

1. Augmented Reality — with React-Native
2. Five Augmented Reality Uses That Solve Real-Life Problems
3. Virtual Reality Headsets: What are the Options? Which is Right For You?
4. Create Lenskart like AR app using iOS RealityComposer and RealityKit with almost no coding
In this article I have put together my learnings of creating and launching an Instagram Face Filter and measure the audience engagement with a branded AR experience. The article focuses on Instagram app as it’s one of the platforms prominently used by brand marketers.

Finding the AR experience (Camera effects) on Instagram app

Instagram Brand account profile pageUsing Instagram Camera effect
The Camera effects as it is called in Instagram, is available in the effects tab in account profile section. A Story content created using your effect by any Instagram user will automatically have a button linked to the Camera effect placed in the top left corner of the frame, so their followers can easily try it for themselves, too. And that’s how it goes viral. The beauty of the effect is that it engages the user directly with the content to create new content, unlike a ready made image or video creatives.

Using the Instagram Filter

Tapping the Camera effects icon from the list in profile page will open the camera and enable the filter to be used.
Once the video is recorded using the Camera effect, tap the link icon on the top of the screen, with a Swipe Up+Camera Effect button to allow embedding the link to your filter into your Story content. Your Audience can then try the effect by simply tapping the link as they engage with your brand stories.
The Camera effect can also be searched by browsing through the list of filter till the end where it gives search icon.

Reaching wider audience through different channels

When an Instagram Camera effect is create, a unique URL to that effect is made available in SparkAR Hub. This link can be used across different social media channels — website, app, blog posts etc. or any marketing collateral. This will hep drive wider user engagement.
SparkAR Hub portal
Every Instagram AR filter has a unique URL that can be found inside your SparkAR hub. Use this link to drive engagement with your filter experience by posting it across your social media channels, embedding it in your website, app, or in other digital marketing collateral.

Tagging the Influence or Brand Ambassador

Tagging the Brand promoter
In case your brand has engaged an Influencer or Brand Ambassador you can tag Business partner with their profile handle. With this the influencer will also be able to see the metrics for your story and give them clues on how to make the content more engaging.
Anyone that sees Story content created using your filter can tap your filter name in the top left corner to try it for themselves!

Measuring the engagement

Audience engagement with Camera effect can be tracked using the SparkAR Hub portal.
Spark AR Hub portal
As seen in the screenshot of the portal above 3 important metrics are tracked over a period of time — Impressions, Captures and Shares. Each metric drives the next one which leads to a brand percolation.
Impressions — the number of times an effect has been displayed on screen, while the user is browsing through other Camera effects. This is organic and depends on how frequent your effect is being used by more number of users (this information is based on my own experience and is not documented anywhere).
Higher number of Impressions means higher chances of audience noticing your brand camera effect and higher the engagement. Impressions can be driven by sharing the unique effect link to multiple channels frequently. This number is always driven by marketing efforts and has very less to do with the effect. The way effect is presented in different social media channels can drive the traffic to try the effect.
Many brand marketers may post it in one place, one time, thinking that it will go viral; but as with any social media marketing campaign a multi-channel strategy can get your impressions, captures and shares soar into millions.
Captures — the number of times someone captured a photo or video that featured your effect in the Instagram camera. The number of captures shows how many users actually interacted with your brand effect story. An effect which can engage user for longer duration will drive a better brand engagement. Here, the design of camera effect which is sync with the brand message plays a crucial role in driving the higher number of captures. More the number of captures more the user engagement.
Shares — the number of times someone took and shared a photo or video that featured your effect to a story on Instagram. While the higher number of Captures shows higher user engagement, the number of shares shows how much is the audience willing to share their experience and propagate the brand effect story.

Inferring the Metrics

Lower number of Impressions and higher Captures means the effect has been designed really well. A better designed effect will allow brand marketers to spend less on marketing the effect and focus on the story that’s told through the effect.
Higher number of Impression can drive more captures, however, if it’s not designed well the number of captures can hang low. Hence, it’s very important to engage with a professional Design studio which understands the brand, AR technology and user behaviour to create an effect that drives engagement.
While a natural outcome of higher captures may be thought as higher number of shares, it’s not always true. Depending on the design of camera effect, user may decide not to share the effect output but to keep to themselves. Geography and user demographics plays an important role on the share numbers. It again comes to designing the Camera effect keeping the audience persona and objective of the brand at core.

A/B testing the camera effects

Comparing metrics of different effects over a period of time
Just like any other marketing campaign it always helps to create at least 2 camera effects to tell the brand story. This will not only enable to track the performance of the brand better, but also reveal the liking of audience revealing their taste and interests in an indirect way.
Using this powerful tool of camera effect to transform your audience from passive observers into active participants, and enable them to spread the brand message and story, making it viral and remembered.
Some of the AR face filters that I created can be experienced using Instagram app and accessed using following links
WorldTour —
Holi (splashes of colors) —
In the following article I will share a case study of using the AR filter for a successful brand campaign.
Stay tuned!

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Using AR Camera effects for Brand Marketing was originally published in AR/VR Journey: Augmented & Virtual Reality Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.