Let me begin my stating the obvious on why AR and VR are not interchangeable.
Augmented reality (AR) is basically superimposing a computer generated image on a user’s view of the real world. Think Pokémon Go.
Virtual reality (VR) is a computer generated simulation of an entire 3D environment with which the user can interact. Think of a first person shooting game, but played using a VR headset.
According to “The Boston Consulting Group”, an estimated 80M people in the US use AR on a monthly basis and this figure is expected to hit 120M in 2021.
Even though Snap introduced its AR ads sometime back, to me, the recent announcement by Facebook to introduce AR ads in its news-feed and also on Instagram’s feed rang a bell in my head. “Will advertisers/agencies now ‘milk’ this or ‘leverage’ this?”.
With Facebook now offering AR ads, it has made it very attractive for both advertisers and agencies to get their hands dirty with this “new” technology ASAP. Remember early 2010 when every brand wanted to have a FB page and a FB app for almost everything they did on digital? To me, this entire AR ad on FB will turn out to be another such thing, at least during the initial phase, since both advertiser and their agency will want to be the “first” to implement something “creative” and “unique” using this.
My worry is that because of such a rat race, the platform may run out of steam since people will be more focused on doing something unique and creative instead of trying to understand how best to use the platform to add to the brand’s value which can either be to increase sales or improve brand saliency. And as a consequence, brands may begin to feel that the ROI on such an investment was not worth it. If this happens, then it is bad news for the platform. Facebook apps in terms of how it was used, have almost died when compared to where it was a decade ago. An over enthusiastic, ill-thought approach to the AR ad platform may follow suit, but at a much faster rate.
I would advice advertisers and agencies to hold on to their horses, take a step back, study and understand the offerings of the platform and then make good use of it.
I personally see a lot of potential in the AR ad space, I hope the people spending money on it will not use it as another “me too” tool and then kill it.
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