Business

Augmented Reality Is Here — and It's More Immersive Than Traditional Advertising

As brands seek to better engage consumers, they are looking to new forms of communication and commerce to break through all the noise. Because augmented reality (AR) is highly immersive, it represents the next big opportunity for brands. 
Our research has shown that AR offers highly engaging experiences across different platforms and media types — and Snapchat’s performance is unmatched. Driving these findings is Snapchat’s role as the place to connect with real friends, experience the world through the Snap camera, and engage with quality content that makes consumers feel more engaged and happy. 
How is Immersion Measured? How is it Calculated
Immersive experiences offer significant value
People show high levels of immersion when engaged with an AR experience. When we talk about “immersion,” we’re referring to a neurological state based on a person’s relative level of attention and emotional connection. When people are highly immersed, they are paying attention, emotionally engaged, and actively committing information to memory. To put it differently, they are “in the zone,” and the experience is resonating with them on a fundamental level — to the point it can predict future behavior.
To test just how immersive AR and Snapchat are, we commissioned an international, multicell study of consumers from strategic market research consultancy Alter Agents. Participants were recruited to participate in virtual, individual research sessions during which they were asked to use specific media platforms and watch online videos in a randomized order. During the session, their level of immersion was calculated by measuring variability in their heart rate using a smart watch. Immersion’s neuroscience platform — the technology behind the methodology — allows us to map the distinct patterns in heart rate indicating a participant is engaged in an immersive state. That’s translated into the Immersion Index, which rates a person’s level of immersion on a scale from 0 to 100. This data represents results from the US, though the results prove consistent across other countries measured: the UK, Saudi Arabia, and France.
Augmented reality is highly immersive
The results of the study clearly show that, overall, AR is an attention-grabbing, emotionally engaging experience. From Snapchat and TikTok to Facebook and Instagram, respondents’ average scores on the Immersion Index were higher than industry benchmarks for the Entertainment category, which includes 350 experiences across television, film, music, gaming, and sports.
Because we know that people who have a more immersive experience with a piece of content are more likely to recall and take action on it later, AR experiences are a prime opportunity for marketers and advertisers to target audiences.
Augmented reality on Snapchat is 1.7x more immersive than anywhere else
Snapchat was found to be the most immersive social platform for AR experiences — more so than other mobile platforms who offer AR in their camera. Participants in the Alter Agents study were asked to use the platforms as they normally would for 60 seconds at a time in a randomized order, all with some form of AR experience. The Immersion Index scores were averaged out, and a clear frontrunner emerged.
The degree to which Snapchat outperforms other platforms is significant. Participants engaging in an AR experience on Snapchat averaged an Immersion Index Score of 73, compared to an average score of 43 across the peer group — that’s 1.7x more immersive! Content and advertising found on Snapchat is more engaging and more likely to be remembered than what they see elsewhere.
This finding is quite compelling, as it indicates that using augmented reality in Snapchat’s camera is the most immersive, which is a benefit to brands who communicate with consumers utilizing augmented reality. 
We also sought to evaluate how attention to and emotional engagement with advertising using augmented reality might differ from more traditional media. The results were fascinating: On average, branded AR experiences maintain high attention throughout while traditional advertising experiences peaks and valleys over time. Every second is that much more impactful and delivers positive memory encoding. 
AR experiences can drive business results
It’s clear that advertising to highly immersed, attentive individuals shows positive implications for an ad’s effectiveness. These research findings are meaningful to advertisers planning campaigns and present a point of differentiation for Snapchat compared to other platforms.
This research shows that Snapchat and augmented reality formats,  including our Lenses and Filters, present marketers with an opportunity to advertise to individuals while they are in their most immersed states. As a result, this advertising stands a greater chance of being recalled by the user — and driving that user’s future action. 
Consider adding Lenses and Filters to your next advertising campaign on Snapchat, and reach out to a sales or marketing science representative to learn more about this study!
For more information on the science behind immersion, check out this research:
  1. Barraza, Jorge, and Paul Zak, “Empathy Toward Strangers Triggers Oxytocin Release and Subsequent Generosity.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (2009): 182-189. 
  2. Alexander, Veronica, Jorge Barraza, Laura E Beavin Yates, Elizabeth T Terris, Paul Zak “The Heart of the Story: Peripheral Physiology During Narrative Exposure Predicts Charitable Giving.” Biological Psychology (2015): 109.

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