Why brands should be excited about Instagram’s target tracking feature

Yesterday Spark AR announced Instagram’s AR target tracking feature is finally out of beta. This is a big deal for brands. Here’s why.

Ever since Instagram’s AR feature opened up for brands earlier this year, more and more effects and filters are being created to promote brands, products, services, movies etc. as part of their social media strategy. Until this week, these branded filters and effects had a main focus on face filters, for example make-up and shades, and world effects which enable Instagram users to place virtual 3D objects within a real world environment and explore those objects in an immersive way. With target tracking a huge new set of possibilities to create highly engaging and interactive experiences in world effects is available for brands.

Target tracking offers a way for creators to build AR experiences that are contextually tied to static images, logos, signs and pictures, on any flat surface, in the real world. When a user points their Instagram camera at a target image, the effect is triggered and appears as a digital overlay in the camera.

Quick technical test with a Heinz bottle and Instagram target tracking

Now why exactly is this interesting for brands? Static images, logo’s, pictures and signs have always been used within marketing and communication creatives. These static creatives are here to tell a story, to communicate a message and to activate an audience. There is no doubt it works but what if we can bring those stories and messages to life, what if we add a digital layer to these creatives making them much more dynamic and immersive. Would that make it a much stronger creative?

In the past research has shown rich media banners converted much better than static banners. Video ads on social media, if done well, convert better than static ads. Adding a “rich AR layer” to static content has this same potential, captivating the audience and engaging them with dynamic animated content. The possibilities here are endless. Augmentation within Instagram can be applied to packaging (food and retail), posters & billboards (events and out of home), museums (storytelling by augmenting static art pieces), and basically anything with an image, logo, picture or sign.

The biggest challenge for brands will be how to create an AR effect which is more than just a gimmick and fits within a campaign or serves another brand related goal. The tracking feature should add actual value to the user experience enriching the brand’s target from a certain creative perspective. Once this is achieved, Instagram users can easily access the AR effect by scanning a QR code linking them instantly to the filter.

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