Augmented reality isn't just for Pokémon Go. (Though as we all know, I love using it for that.)
My colleague Sara Fischer reports that some of the biggest U.S. social media giants are beginning to roll out ads that feature AR, giving marketers the ability to let users virtually test their goods before buying them.
Why it matters: The technology brings virtual and real world shopping experiences closer together, and would likely shift retail spending further online.
How it works: A user who encounters a digital ad using AR could see what a pair of glasses looks like on their face, or what a rug would look like in their living room, before making a purchase.
- The ads are also digitally targeted to users based on their preferences, increasing the likelihood that they'd be interested in the product to begin with.
Tech giants are pioneering the ad technology because they are already camera-friendly platforms, meaning the major use of their apps is taking pictures of yourself or your space anyway.
- Snapchat was the first company to give advertisers the ability to use AR in their ads. The feature, called "Shoppable AR," allows users to buy things directly from a movable augmented reality image. Brands like Adidas and Clairol have already begun using the feature.
- Facebook soon followed, announcing this week that it is rolling out AR within ads this year on Facebook's News Feed. Michael Kors was the first brand to test the feature. Sephora and others will begin using AR ads on Facebook later this summer.
- By the end of August, Facebook will roll out a "Video Creation Kit" for all advertisers to create AR ads on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Facebook's Audience Network.
Amazon and Google are using similar technologies to implement AR into their shopping platforms. Given Google's ad dominance and Amazon's push into online advertising, it wouldn't be surprising if they too begin to roll out AR advertising offerings for marketers.
The big picture: Until now, AR has mostly been used in marketing at the "top of the funnel," meaning it helps drive general awareness around brands. By making it possible to buy things through AR, the technology can now be used closer to the "bottom of the funnel," meaning it can push people to actually buy products.
Go deeper: Read Sara's full story here.