YouTube’s pushing augmented-reality ads

YouTube’s newest push with advertisers: augmented-reality ads.

Google announced last week, timed with Cannes, that brands can now create AR for YouTube. The company’s launch partner was MAC Cosmetics, where YouTube users could virtually try-on lipstick while watching creators’ makeup tutorials. The offering will be available to brands later this summer through YouTube’s FameBit, its influencer marketing platform.

YouTube opening up to AR comes as interest in the format among brands is increasing, agency executives say. The experience was once most popular among Hollywood studios, and it was quite limited to niche platforms like Snapchat. But now with the rise of web-based AR along with Facebook and Instagram investing in the format, advertisers in more categories have been experimenting with it.

Alper Guler, co-founder of QReal, an augmented-reality-focused subsidiary of the Glimpse Group, recently renamed his company to align with the growth in the AR industry. Kabaq was known for its work in 3D and AR food, such as with Bareburger on Snapchat. But now the company is working with brands in fashion, CPG and automative.

“For years, we perfected our modeling process to present dishes that look completely real, are platform agnostic and optimized for AR. We knew the same process would work for a whole myriad of brands and items,” Guler said.

AR makes sense for the beauty industry, Guler said. The experience aligns with consumers’ love for selfies and AR lenses, available previously on Snapchat and Instagram. And the technology for facial recognition is strong, compared to image recognition of feet, arms and the rest of the human body. Guler said he expects that to improve in the coming years where there will then be more virtual try-ons for jewelry and clothing.

Patrick Givens, vp at VaynerMedia, head of VaynerSmart, said his agency has seen increased interest in AR from clients in beauty, fashion and CPGs. These categories are looking to AR as a way to provide some utility to customers, but it’s been difficult to get these experiences in front of customers at scale, Givens said. YouTube helps with that scale problem.

“Brands want to support a good shopping or product usage experience and ultimately build relationships, and often AR would be a great way to do so. As the YouTube and MAC collaboration demonstrates, the platforms are starting to lean in to use cases that might provide a bit more value to users beyond simple entertainment,” Givens said.

For QReal, Snapchat has been its main platform for distributing AR. But the company has been working more with web-based AR via Apple and Google. Guler said his company also plans to work more with Instagram once it also opens itself up to more brands later this summer.

Now with YouTube, a platform with 2 billion monthly active users, that potential for reach with AR only grows. Through YouTube’s FameBit, advertisers can track brand interest, lift and view-through-conversion as well as impact on Google search.

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