Facebook Is Testing Augmented Reality Shopping Ads and Rolling Out 3 Other Tools for Brands

Growing social commerce in time for the holidays

Consumers will be able to shop from the AR ad, as well as in-feed. Facebook
Headshot of Ann-Marie Alcántara

Facebook is taking yet another leaf out of Snapchat’s playbook by bringing augmented reality commerce ads to the platform, the company announced at a holiday shopping event today.

Michael Kors first tested the feature by creating an AR ad that let Facebook users “try on” sunglasses, and the functionality is rolling out to a few other brands, like Sephora and Wayfair, later this summer.

Users who scroll by an augmented reality promo have a chance to tap into the experience; with Sephora, for example, they’ll be able to see a shade of lipstick on their lips. Customers can share a photo of the moment, with a sticker advertising the product, with friends directly or on their Facebook Stories. And they have three ways to shop—from the Facebook post, the AR moment or the shared sticker, all of which link to a product page.

“From our perspective, we’re really excited to be early and trying out Facebook’s product and some other platforms as well,” said Jess Jacobs, director of marketing, Wayfair.

Facebook and Snapchat aren’t the only ones innovating in the space; Oath has its own AR ad format for email banner ads on the Yahoo Mail app. The company’s tested it with Home Depot during the holiday season and saw a 12.5 percent click-through rate. The ad let consumers see what a Christmas tree looked like in their space.

Travis Freeman, executive vp at VaynerMedia, believes AR ads will each have a different goal, depending on the brand.

“For some brands, it’s all about brand relevance, and we’re going to try and create an experience that’s pushing brand lift,” Freeman said. “For others, it’s all about conversion in the moment, which I think is cool for Instagram because people are already ingrained in the notion of buying within the platform.”

However, despite the release of the AR ads, Freeman said the experience still has to be right for the consumer—without any friction.

“Looking at the consumer journey, of path to purchase even prior to activating the campaign, is a mandate,” Freeman said. “We won’t do it if it’s going to be a clunky experience. We’re only going to do it if it’s super seamless.”

At the event, Facebook introduced three more features to help companies capitalize on this year’s holiday season. Here’s a look:

1. Shopping on Instagram Stories, which first  came out in beta in June, will be available globally before the holidays, for any brand that has shopping turned on.

2. Instagram is also introducing collections ads. Consumers who see an ad while scrolling through their feeds can tap on it to browse more products—without leaving the app.

3. Facebook wants more video from brands on its platform, so it’s hoping to make that easier with the Video Creation Kit, which lets anyone create a video ad with images. Noom, a weight loss company, stated in a blog post that it saw a 77 percent increase in performance by using the tool. The feature is still in testing but will be available to advertisers in August.

The announcements came after Ty Ahmad-Taylor, vp, business product marketing at Facebook, spoke to the audience about the rise of mobile shopping, especially through video, and the potential Instagram Stories has for companies. For example, 80 percent of Instagram users follow a business, and one in three of the most-viewed stories are from businesses.

“It’s our belief that better marketing equals to better shopping, which leads to growth for your business,” Ahmad-Taylor said. “When you understand the people that matter to you—and what matters to them—you can connect with them in a way that’s unusual and new, and it also allows [you] to deliver them messages in a way or format that they want to accept.”

@itstheannmarie annmarie.alcantara@adweek.com Ann-Marie Alcántara is a tech reporter for Adweek, focusing on direct-to-consumer brands and ecommerce.