Not long ago, it was inconceivable that people would be able to augment their environment through pocket-sized technology. But thanks to mobiles, AR is now thriving: over 1 billion people used AR experiences on Facebook in the past year; Snapchat partner creator lenses alone have been used 15 billion times; and Instagram Stories is used over 500 million times a day.

Mobile AR is so engaging and shareable that it has become powerful marketing tool. So much so that some forward-thinking, fast-growing brands like Just Eat and Spotify now invest in ‘always-on’ mobile AR strategies. With WebAR making mobile AR even more accessible, it’s a marketing strategy that’s going to continue to grow as we enter the 2020s.

But many brands still don’t know where to start. So, as someone who has been fortunate enough to experiment with mobile AR for the last four years, here are some insights to help marketers take the leap into the magical world of mobile AR:

  1. Validate the concept at an early stage: AR’s endless possibilities can be very distracting. It’s frighteningly easy to get carried away with unrealistic plans and end up with a result that either doesn’t work smoothly or just looks plain wrong.
  2. Map out the lens with storyboards and scamps: because we’ve created hundreds of AR experiences, we instinctively know what lies ahead. But this won’t necessarily be the case for creators who aren’t yet as familiar with the medium. Safeguard feasibility and make sure everyone (you and your client) is on same page early on.
  3. Agree the aesthetics upfront: unless the look and feel of an AR experience is locked down at the very start of the process, there’s a high risk you’ll end up with an experience that’s stylistically compromised. So, ask questions like: “should it be a 2D illustration, cartoonish or photorealistic?”
  4. Have very clear KPIs: if the project’s objectives haven’t been clearly established, you’ll build an experience that may not meet the brief. Should it be driving awareness or sales? This will determine if it’s a selfie lens, or a world lens.
  5. Focus on making the result look premium with design not 3D modelling: exceptionally detailed models have a tendency to overcomplicate the process while draining file size and resources. Instead, for example, fake depth with animations by using different software, like Cinema 4D, to render artwork into a video.
  6. Follow the mantra of ‘test, test and test again’: prepare for wildly different handset sizes and factor in different operating systems. So when you get to the testing phase, test on many different devices, it’s the only way to ensure optimised performance across all devices.
  7. Ensure your AR experience spreads like wildfire by avoiding heavy branding: although AR can be an incredibly effective marketing and revenue-generating tool, they are – in the user’s eyes – a source of entertainment. And blatant logos get in the way of that.

So there you have it. Seven sure fire tips for mobile AR success. Go forth and augment!


Written by Isabel Perry, Director of Technology at Byte London: martech agency combining technology with creativity, data, strategy and paid media to crack brands’ business problems. Ranked 35th in the Sunday Times Tech Track 100, 33rd in the FT 1000: Europe’s Fastest Growing Companies and featured in LinkedIn’s Top 25 StartUps, clients include: ASOS, Just Eat, Nike, Spotify and Trainline.


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