WPP and Snap Create AR Lab Focused on Combining Augmented Reality with Commerce

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Dive brief:

  • WPP and Snap Inc. have announced a global partnership focused on the development of augmented reality (AR) products, particularly those that link AR to e-commerce, by a blog post by the holding group of agencies. The news makes WPP the premier agency AR partner for Snap.
  • Through AR Lab, WPP customers can collaborate on new Snapchat products, including the Recently released Snapchat trends tool, as well as access to a personalized strategy guide offering best practices. WPP and Snap simultaneously implement an optimization scorecard to help marketers track the effectiveness of their AR efforts and adjust their tactics in real time.
  • The AR Lab, the latest in a series of recent industry developments focused on social commerce, additionally has an AR certification program that aims to reach, at a minimum, 1,000 WPP employees by 2021. Snap will also sponsor a quarterly AR production competition where winning WPP clients from markets like the US, UK and Canada will have their campaign ideas funded at scale on Snapchat.

Dive overview:

The AR Lab seeks to combine Snap’s focus on AR applications with WPP’s extensive service capabilities across creative, media, commerce, and technology. The partnership is the latest to recognize the growing role of social commerce, where content shared on platforms like Snapchat can be closely tied to purchases. This could be a bigger tactic for brands grappling with another unusual holiday period that could see pandemic-wary consumers shopping more for gifts online.

WPP and Snap highlighted the clear consumer demand for such offers in their announcement. A recent Deloitte study commissioned by the owner of Snapchat found that 94% of respondents plan to use AR to shop at the same or higher levels in 2022 compared to this year. In a press release, David Roter, vice president of global agency partnerships at Snap, said more than 200 million Snapchat users interact with augmented reality features on a daily basis.

Thanks to the latest AR program, Snap is opening up access for WPP customers to new advertising products, such as a Snapchat Trends tool launched in August that relies on popular keywords shared through features like the Stories format in Endangered. This information is intended to help marketers conduct product market research, refine their copy, and build personalities and user profiles. They arrive like GroupM, the advertising group’s media buying division, has doubled its investments in social AR in the past year, according to the announcement.

Marketers who are reluctant to spend a lot of money on experimental AR might find the quarterly production contests appealing, as Snap will provide the funding needed to scale the Snapchat campaigns it sees as innovative. Meanwhile, the AR Lab has a dedicated program that aims to ensure that WPP employees are up to the technology.

Snap’s rivals are similarly focused on shopping, including TikTok and Instagram. TikTok signed a deal in August with WPP rival Publicis Groupe around social commerce that includes a multi-week incubator program scheduled for the holidays. In an effort to differentiate itself, Snap put more resources into AR. A Snap’s sequence of acquisitions this year included AR display startup Optical wave; FitAnalytics, which helps consumers find the right size for online clothing purchases; Screenshop, which allows users scan and buy outfits shared by friends; and vertebrae, a 3D and AR commerce company.

Marketers are also increasing their bets on social commerce. Packaged goods giant Unilever earlier this week unveiled a new program that will partner with startups relevant to its beauty and personal care brands. The first series of pitches for the Positive Beauty Growth Platform is dedicated to social commerce, with Unilever looking for companies specializing in direct buying, purchasable media, game trading and group buying. The social commerce market globally is expected to generate nearly $ 3.4 trillion in revenue by 2028, according to Grand View Research estimates cited by marketer CPG.

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