Facebook is giving brands better performance data on AR effects

Facebook is giving advertisers more performance data on how people are using their augmented reality effects on the platform, as Snapchat steps up efforts to make its own AR more accessible to brands.

The Facebook update appeared on some agencies’ and developers’ AR development kits last week, but it isn’t yet widely available. Those who have seen it told Digiday there are three main updates: The first allows advertisers to see how many unique people used the lens; the second captures how many people took a photo using the lens; and the third allows advertisers to measure whether the effect has driven the user to take a specific action such as purchase, add to basket, view a webpage or install an app.

According to an updated dashboard viewed by Digiday, an AR effect for one advertiser was used more than 100,000 times over an eight-week period, 75 percent of which were organic. The effect contributed to around 10,000 orders, half of which occurred within a seven-day window, according to the dashboard.

Until now, brands that tested AR on the social network have only been able to see how many times their effects were used and how many views they generated. Brands view the lack of measurement as a minor issue rather than a big barrier to funding an AR effect, given the modest outlay required to create an effect in the first place. An AR effect is effectively a post that the brand itself develops using tools in Facebook’s AR Studio, or the brand can hire an AR developer to make an effect. The effects are not, however, ad units in the way that Snapchat’s branded lenses are sold to advertisers.

AR lenses on Snapchat typically cost between $500,000 and $1 million per day media agency executives have previously said. Whereas sources close to Snapchat claim advertisers can incorporate lenses into their paid campaigns for as little as $40,000. Regardless, pricing is dependent on factors such as targeting criteria and the timing of the lens, making it more comparable to a media buy than the branded-content play Facebook has touted to advertisers. As pricey as Snapchat’s AR play is, brands are still buying the lenses, and people are still using them. Over half of 13- to 34-year-olds in the U.S. are using AR on Snapchat every week, according to the most recent figures shared by Peter Sellis, Snap’s director of product management for monetization, at Advertising Week Europe on March 19. Sellis acknowledged the challenges with the technology, however, noting that Snapchat’s AR lenses only reach about 15 percent of the U.S. population, per an eMarketer report.

“That doesn’t sound like the type of reach we’re going to need as advertisers to get AR in front of [more] people,” said Sellis, stressing how the company is trying to make lenses more accessible and pointing to the launch of its Lens Studio in December as the way it would drive reach. Pitched as a self-serve toolkit, advertisers can upload creative assets and create AR lenses on their own, which — in theory — would be faster than if they relied on Snapchat’s development team. Since the studio launched in December, it has had more than 30,000 submissions to and more than 1 billion views on lenses.

“I don’t think of AR as something we’re still figuring out,” said Sellis. “This isn’t 2015 when we’re learning if vomiting rainbows are beating flower crowns.” He added that the launch of World Lenses last October encapsulated the shift, with the business now pushing AR lenses for nearly everything, whereas before, it just focused on those that could be overlaid onto someone’s face. “We have a lot of the world’s most sophisticated advertisers working with AR today to achieve results across the entire funnel,” Sellis said. “Some of the world’s most sophisticated advertisers like Netflix and King are using AR to drive subscribers and downloads and activations.”

Snap, which pioneered AR on social media, will no doubt have one eye on Facebook’s rival service. Facebook is aggressively attempting to catch up to Snapchat in AR, opening up its beta program at the turn of the year following its launch to a limited number of partners in April. Earlier this month, Facebook introduced a feature that allows AR effects to be shown within its camera app when the camera is pointed at certain objects like the poster for a new movie, for example.


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