Augmented Reality - Breaks new ground on Attention

Understanding the attention economy 

When it comes to planning, buying and measuring media, all eyes are on Attention these days. One of the reasons why marketers and media practitioners are so interested in Attention is because there is increasingly more evidence that Attention drives outcomes, whether it is sales or brand building. 

In 2021, Snapchat partnered with Dentsu to evaluate Attention paid to vertical, fullscreen, :06 non-skippable Commercials on the platform and understand what impact Attention had on the brand. While the research demonstrated the strong performance of Commercials on attention metrics, recall and impact, the question arose as to how Attentive an innovative format like branded Augmented Reality (AR) lenses will be and what impact can it drive.

To this end, Snapchat and Dentsu partnered with Attention measurement firm, Lumen, to explore the impact of Attention (being paid to advertising) on recall and brand choice through dedicated consumer research in US and UK. Research was carried out among ~500 consumers covering over 12+ branded AR lens experience. Consumers in the exposed group were fitted with eye tracking glasses. These consumers were asked to explore a pre-prepared Snap camera lens carousel, into which 10-12 AR lenses had been inserted, for ~10 mins.

High Attention = High Impact

The results came in and AR blew other formats out of the water - Attention paid to Snap lenses exceeded Dentsu benchmarks by 4X(1). Other platforms would need 14-20 ads(1) to generate the same level of attention as Snapchat AR lenses do for the same brand.

When one opens the Snapchat app, the first tab they open to is the camera, where branded AR experiences live. This means almost all (97%) consumers in the research viewed Snapchat lenses while interacting with the platform.  The reason is clear - the engaging and immersive nature of the format likely enables longer viewable time, giving it an edge over more traditional video formats  

Moving beyond the ability to view and looking at actual Attention being paid to these lenses,  AR Lenses on Snapchat outperformed all other media formats ever tested by dentsu. The high attention paid to lenses translated to higher recall and brand choice lift too, showcasing AR’s ability to drive brand outcomes. In fact, brand recall was 1.3x(1) more for those exposed to AR lenses vs. other channels. Interestingly, a similar pattern was observed for the highly attentive Commercials as well - proving attention is impacted by both the ad format and the environment itself. 

New Shape of Attention 

What is driving this high attention to AR compared to formats like video or display? Unlike TV or other digital channels, the nature of attention given to Snap AR lenses has its own immersive shape. Let’s break it down. Years of research has shown that attention to TV ads are broad but quite deep– a typical 30 second TV ad is noticed by 43% of viewers for around 14s on average, as per Lumen. The interaction is different when it comes to online videos as attention paid tends to be broad but short – if ads appear on screen then they will be noticed, but only for a second or two.    

Through this research, it was determined that attention to Snap AR Lenses is totally different. Accessing a lens might not be as universal as watching a video but those consumers who use AR engage with the format for far longer and have a deeper and more immersive experience. Imagine opening an AR lens for a furniture brand, where you use it to place different couches in your room. Not only is the playtime for this lens going to be longer than watching a video ad for a new couch, the consumer is also actively engaging with the product during the entire experience.

This pattern was true for different types of branded AR lenses assessed in this research on Snapchat. Whether it was shoppable or entertainment or gaming lenses, Snapchat AR lenses successfully retained attention for longer periods of time  - 80% engaged with Snap lenses for at least 2 seconds, whereas less than 10% of people engaged with other formats for more than 2 seconds. And as attention increased, so did the lift for both key brand metrics - recall and brand choice. 

Redefine best practices 

The usual advice on best practices for social platforms can’t be applied to AR  - this new format needs new rules of engagement. After all, one needs to keep in mind that the format itself is transformative  where more is more, ie., the more immersive the experience, the more engaged the audience, it transforms the viewer’s context and allows for advertisers to focus on an audience of one. 

The research also validated some of the best practices Snapchat outlines to build a successful AR experience. Incorporating creative tactics like having clear top of screen branding that doesn’t blend in with the background, hints on how to interact with the lens experience, designing with sound on and including selfie option are likely to help increase brand metrics like recall and brand choice 

While AR is working hard as a mid-funnel tactic among a broader audience, lenses need targeting too to drive brand choice. Vertical categories like Auto or Travel tend to have higher costs and lower purchase frequencies – hence targeting relevant audiences is key to drive impact on intent. 

Add AR to the marketing mix 

This research adds to a growing body of proof that AR should be an integral part of the ad mix along with video. With over 200 Million Snapchatters using AR everyday, AR is starting to become a part of their media consumption and consumers will soon start to expect brands to be there. AR offers  advertisers a great opportunity to cut through clutter of video in an efficient and effective way.

With a much longer engagement than other social formats, advertisers can use AR to build deeper relationships between their brand and consumers and build on mid-funnel KPIs including brand perceptions. Brands can also consider using Public Profiles on Snapchat as an always-on organic presence for Snapchatters to discover and immerse themselves in AR experiences. 

While developing branded AR lenses, Advertisers need to tweak their best practice to adapt to AR - balancing the new format with platform must-haves. At Snapchat, automated creation tools such as Lens Web Builder makes it easy to create AR at scale, while following best practices. 

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1 Attention study by Lumen 2022, Commissioned by Snap Inc and dentsu, Attention data from Passive Panel Data UK + US, n=3095