Augmented Reality (AR) Ads: Are they a reality?

Adotas talks with Dan Greenberg the Chief Design Officer at ironSource (pictured left) about the future of augmented reality in digital marketing and advertising.
Q: What are the major hurdles the industry will need to overcome to fully adopt AR ads?

A: The most critical element impacting the potential scale of AR ads is the number of phones in the market integrated with the necessary technology. Until adoption of iOS11 really takes off and more Android device manufacturers’ support ARCore, we’ll see a limit to scale. Having said this, given how strongly both companies are pushing their respective AR offerings, we expect to see a steady clip of user adoption which will drive the whole space forward.

Another issue will be integrating an AR ad experience into non-camera-first apps. On mobile, developers of both ads and apps need the specific permission (and therefore intent) of the user in order to open the camera inside an app. For camera-focused apps integrating AR ads will be easy — think of Snapchat and Instagram, where access to a device’s camera is a central part of the app experience and as a result, where the integration of camera-based ads like AR ads can be seamless. But across other app categories integrating that type of ad experience will be a challenge.

Q: Other than Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore, are there any other key developments that are encouraging the adoption of AR ads?
A: We see three key areas which are encouraging the adoption of AR ads. One is the simple fact that the toolsets and technologies required to create 3D experiences, and have them supported seamlessly on a phone, are significantly more robust and developed than they have been previously. Additionally, AR technology is getting promoted from major tech companies like Apple and Google. Lastly, many of the new tools are developed in open source environments, which is an ideal market condition for pushing developers and brands to innovate and explore this new field.

From a more general perspective, adoption will increase as brands and marketers develop a deeper understanding of what the mobile medium. Unlike desktop, mobile devices allow users to view dynamic, physically interactive and responsive content. We’re seeing mobile develope as a marketing channel that requires a unique approach, which goes beyond translating ads from other channels onto a smaller screen. AR ads will be a big part of that.

Q: What are the benefits of AR ads for consumers?
AR ads not only provide an immersive and delightful experience for users, they are also one of the least-disruptive ad units in the market today. Since the experience is opt-in, consumers must grant access to their camera/device to view and interact with an ad. This puts full control into the consumer’s hands, and let’s them decide whether or not they want to interact with a brand or organization at a given moment.

Additionally, AR ads actually provide users with a more intimate brand experience, when it comes to content, products or services. The user can literally test-drive the experience, increasing the possibility of conversion.

AR advertisements and branded experiences ultimately supplement the digital environments users are already in, rather than placing them into a new environment. This new ad format inspires brands and advertisers to create positive experiences that encourage engagement and ongoing interactivity.

Q: What kinds of new ad formats does ironSource see as innovative in the future?
A: Our focus at ironSource is on building ads that place users directly at the center of a given interactive experience. We’re constantly researching and developing ways to give users as much choice and control as possible. We also believe that giving the user more control is key to creating truly personalized mobile experiences.
In addition to our playable and video gameplay ads, we’re investing in ad formats that provide users the opportunity to select their preference and witness the ad change to reflect those preferences. This helps advertisers understand consumers in fresh ways — feedback from ads like these present entirely new sets of experience data for advertisers.

Q: Other than the gaming industry, are there other industries that can experience major campaign results?
A: While the gaming industry is in a unique position to see major results, other verticals will definitely benefit from engaging their audiences through AR ads. Retail is an obvious choice, and we already see AR apps in the retail space, but for that to spill over into ads as well could drive huge benefit for retail advertisers. Imagine being able to see an ad for a pair of shoes or a new couch which allowed you to immediately see and evaluate the items in the real world around you.


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