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Facebook Tests AR Ads, Expands Shopping To Instagram Stories

It was Christmas in July at the Facebook office in New York City on Tuesday – and the social media platform had a few gifts to share for marketers ahead of the holiday season.

At the “Holidays are Here” event, Ty Ahmad-Taylor, VP, business and product marketing, gave an inside look at three new features that will help brands make the most of their holiday season marketing this year.

Augmented Reality is coming to Facebook Ads

Facebook is currently testing AR for eCommerce ads, embedded directly into the News Feed experience. Once engaging with an ad, users will be prompted to enter a camera-facing experience, where users can interact directly with AR capabilities using face tracking technology. Ahmad-Taylor gave an example from Candy Crush, a popular mobile game. Once the ad is activated, users can play a mini-game of their own, using their face to catch miniature candies in their mouths, while racking up points in the process.

On the retail side, brands like Michael Kors are using in-ad AR to let customers virtually “try-on” sunglasses before making a purchase online.

Ahmad-Taylor says this use of AR can help bridge the gap between online and in-store experiences through mobile – a channel he says marketers must pay attention to this year.

“It bridges the gap of what you can do at home with what you can do in the store,” Ahmad-Taylor said.

Jess Jacobs, director of marketing, Wayfair, agreed. Speaking onstage Tuesday, Jacobs detailed how the eCommerce home goods brand uses AR to address potential customer pain points when picking out items like furniture.

“We’re allowing her to move through objections, and see the product in her space,” she said.

Facebook’s foray into AR started late last year, with the release of their AR Studio back in December 2017. The announcement came after the initial release of their Camera Effects platform last April.

For Travis Freeman, EVP, VaynerMedia, Facebook’s AR ads give new opportunities for experimentation, to see what types of experiences resonate best with different brands and different consumer audiences.

“With anything, we never just go sprinting into all of it,” Freeman said. “We want to see if it works.”

More: How Retailers Are Using AR In Marketing

Shopping is coming to Instagram Stories

Facebook is investing heavily into their Instagram Stories platform, which rivals a similar user experience as its predecessor (and perhaps, largest competitor) Snapchat. In their latest release, Facebook is bringing their shopping capabilities to Instagram Stories feeds, allowing customers the ability to browse new items in-the-moment.

Shopping on Instagram has been around since late 2016. Shoppers can tap to “see more” for items they discover through sponsored posts. Interested customers can also access a retailer’s site directly in the Instagram app, where they can view items, and start building a shopping cart.

In February 2018, Facebook announced their “Collections” capability, which provides a new way for brands to showcase multiple items at once within an ad. The functionality was piloted on Facebook, and is now rolling out to Instagram worldwide.

Facebook is making it easier for brands to create mobile video ads

Facebook also announced the release of their Video Creation Kit, aimed to help brands repurpose existing content into cohesive mobile video ads. Video Creation Kit capabilities will exist inside Facebook Ad Manager. Brands will now have the ability to upload content – whether it be video, or images – set their video campaign goals, and customize their videos using Facebook-suggested templates.

Freeman stressed the value of repurposing content, especially when it comes to making the most out of your resources throughout the entirety of the holiday season. When paired with the right segmentation techniques, and optimized for specific channel delivery, repurposed content can go a long way.

“It’s not necessarily creating net new assets,” Freeman said. “It’s about…making sure they’re optimized for customer experience.”

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