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Marketers are always seeking new ways to reach audiences, engage customers, and maximize brand messaging. Now, thanks to 3D modeling and AR technology, several major search and social media platforms offer the ability to run interactive 3D ads.
One of the newest forms of advertising, they could be a game-changer for many companies. But what is the best platform to choose when creating 3D immersive ad campaigns?
3D adverts are more than just images or videos designed for passive consumption. Instead, they include interactive elements that allow viewers to explore products in completely new ways.
3D models can be zoomed in and out, rotated, flipped, and even patterned or redecorated. Users can also experiment with placing their faces into virtual reality fitting rooms or insert virtual furnishings into their own homes, allowing shoppers to find out more before they buy, building trust and encouraging conversions.
Creating your 3D ad is actually very straightforward. Select the platform, import your 3D models, and start building a creative. Google has been a pioneer in delivering interactive ads and now Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat have also come on board.
However, since each one has its own unique features, picking the right platform can determine how well these ads perform across various benchmarks.
Swirl first appeared in closed beta form back in 2019 but was formally launched in 2020. Available to all display and video 360 customers, it allows companies to convert 3D models into fully interactive banner ads that appear in search results just like normal ads. Except, Swirl lets consumers engage with the immersive display ad in radically new ways.
Swirl ads can be zoomed in or out, flipped and rotated, and switched from small to full-screen viewing. Swirl templates can be turned into functional ads quickly and easily via the 3D/Swirl component on Google Web Designer. CGTrader ARsenal is an official Google trusted 3D Production Partner hand-picked to create and supply high-quality assets optimized for Swirl.
At present, Swirl ads are limited to high bandwidth networks and are only available for iOS and Android. But as connection speeds soar, advertising markets for augmented reality content will rapidly expand. When that happens, Google searches are sure to be a lucrative way to immerse and engage audiences.
German sportswear giant adidas have shown the way in using augmented reality ads. When the company’s Latin American division wanted to promote Ultra Boost 2019 sneakers, they turned to Google Swirl for a solution.
Adidas created a Swirl ad featuring a 3D viewer that allowed footwear buyers to get up close and personal with Ultra Boost designs, providing the right information needed to purchase.
The result? The adidas Swirl ad multiplied engagement rates by a factor of 4, with an average viewing time of 11 seconds and a Return-on-Average-Spend (ROAS) of 2.8 in Colombia. Those figures ensured that the Ultra Boost line performed better than comparable brands.
Auto manufacturer Nissan has also exploited Swirl's immersive display format. Banner ads run by Nissan Spain demonstrated features like lane keep assist and lane intervention, which are hard to explain in static ads.
Adding an interactive 3D element seemed to work, with Nissan reporting engagement rates 8 times higher than normal alongside boosts in brand awareness and purchase intent.
Meanwhile, Swirl ads by pet food maker Purina allowed customers to play fetch games with 3D dogs, while Belvedere Vodka used AR advertisements to showcase gift sets as if they were being handled in-store.
All of these examples prove that Swirl has a lot of potential for showcasing product features, adding depth that you can’t achieve via alternative digital advertising techniques.
Meta has created its own AR advertising studio called Spark AR. Designed to enable creatives to come up with immersive experiences on both Facebook and Instagram.
Spark AR studio first launched in late 2018 and has evolved into a fully-functional AR development community. The Spark app allows developers to import 3D models, add textures, interactive features, and sound effects.
Tools like Plane Tracker make it possible to add virtual objects to real-world settings, while background segmentation lets users add their face or body to virtual environments. Analytics also makes it easy to assess the impact of marketing campaigns.
AR advertising content created via Spark appears in the news feeds of Facebook and Instagram users. This allows companies to target ads at audiences with a prior interest in their products. Well-made interactive ads should slot seamlessly into the user’s social media experience.
For instance, sunglasses brand Michael Kors adopted AR advertising early, using Spark AR to create virtual fitting rooms. Cosmetics brand Sephora followed suit, providing ways to apply virtual makeup to users’ faces.
Purina also reached out to UK Facebook users during the Covid lockdown during their #uptomischief campaign. AR advertising featuring the brand’s mascot Felix overlaid the cat on work from home desks, blending humor with information to market feline treats.
According to Purina, this led to average engagement times of 20-30 seconds and improved ad recall, attribution, and affinity ratings. Clearly, AR ads stand out from user feeds if they are well made and cleverly targeted.
Snapchat feels like it was made for mobile device 3D advertising, with its AR-friendly smartphone filters and some powerful development tools for marketers to explore.
The website has around 530 million users, and 75% of them interact with AR technology on a daily basis. That’s a far higher percentage than Google search or Facebook users. Additionally, Snapchat users are 20% more likely to make mobile purchases than those on other platforms.
Snap AR is the main tool for ad offerings on Snapchat. It blends a series of related apps, including Lens Studio, Lens Web Builder, Lens Analytics, and My Lenses. Lens Studio is the most important for first-time ad developers, as it lets you generate sponsored AR lenses that users can apply to the real world.
As with Google Swirl and Spark AR, users can upload libraries of 3D models into Lens Studio, where they can add model behavior, apply audio-visual effects, and toggle user interactivity as required.
There are two main types of AR Snap Lenses. Face Lenses apply content to the faces of users, while World Lenses apply content to camera images of the real world. As creative brands are already demonstrating, both offer radically new ways to interact.
Beverages brand Perrier is a great example. The French company used AR Floor Segmentation tools within Snap AR to market its new Perrier & Juice blend. This transported viewers into a tropical wonderland, turning their surroundings into a vibrant (and Perrier branded) alternate dimension.
Luxury auto brand Jaguar has also explored Snapchat’s potential, using AR to introduce its E-PACE Engage Edition to Spanish users. A specially created AR Lens allowed fans to enter and rotate a 3D model of the car, while they could even add it to the street around them.
The campaign was a great success, achieving a 4.7% lens engagement rate and a 2.5% click-through rate which generated 200,000 site visits.
Fashion brands have also been busy exploring AR lenses. For instance, Gucci created a popular virtual shoe fitting lens that was connected directly to the brand’s eCommerce website. Retailer Champs Sports did the same, targeting Nike fans during the 2020 “Refresh Your Game” campaign.
Both brands saw huge engagement and conversion boosts. Champs Sports also reported an 8% share rate among Snapchat users – evidence that people respond really well to interactive ads.
ARsenal offers the ideal starting point when crafting an immersive 3D ad. All campaigns differ, but the basic process for interactive ad creation is the following:
Interactive 3D ads are now available for almost all brands to use. As we’ve seen, there are various platforms to think about, and many different styles of ad to suit your product or service. Choose one that works for you, and discover a new way to reach the customers that matter.
Ready to get started? Get in touch with our team and let’s begin creating irresistible Snapchat filters or unmissable Google Swirl ads.
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