YouTube rolls out augmented reality, virtual try-ons for makeup brands, influencers
YouTube has introduced augmented reality into videos, providing a canvas for beauty bloggers to play with virtual makeup while also opening a new route for brands to hawk their products.
On Tuesday, Google, which owns YouTube, announced the new augmented-reality feature, which enables “virtual try-on” sessions. Viewers turn a phone’s camera onto themselves, like looking in the mirror, to digitally sample a shade of lipstick or other makeup product—and there is a buy button. On Tuesday, Google also released a new ad format that incorporates technology akin to augmented reality, calling them three-dimensional display ads, which can run on any mobile website.
MAC Cosmetics was one of the first beauty brands to test the virtual try-ons in YouTube, while New Balance was among the first to develop a 3D display ad, which Google showed off in a blog post on Tuesday.
“This is a really smart move by YouTube, staking a claim with ‘try-on’ augmented reality,” says Clay Weishaar, creative director at Unit 9. “They have crazy technology, really sophisticated. They’re starting with makeup but eventually it could be for all clothes.”
Weishaar is a member of the creative community riding the growing boom in augmented reality on platforms like Snapchat, YouTube, Facebook, Apple and Amazon. The companies all have AR programs for brands and developers to create their own experiences with the technology, which has led to some innovative uses like consumers being able to view digital renditions of furniture in their living rooms or sample virtual sunglasses.
Mobile AR generated $1.8 billion in 2018, and this was expected to double this year, according to a recent report from SuperData, which is part of Nielsen.
“Consumers are highly averse to static advertising,” says Stephanie Llamas, head of VR/AR at SuperData. “But this gives users the opportunity to experience ads on their own terms, since half of AR users have positive sentiments toward augmented advertising."
YouTube has 2 billion monthly viewers, according to the company’s official stats, and AR is a way for popular video makers to collaborate with brands, creating marketing opportunities that aren’t just interrupting ads.
YouTube is using FameBit, the influencer platform it bought in 2016, to link brands and video stars for these AR integrations. YouTube is able to stand out from other influencer platforms by leveraging its connection to FameBit and offering brands better intelligence on video makers, according to Noah Mallin, Wavemaker’s head of experience, content and partnerships in North America.
“There are audience insights and advanced measurements,” Mallin says, “to get more out of the creators, that other influencer networks wouldn’t be able to give.”
Brands have been exploring AR on their own, as well, creating apps that tap into the technology, but building an audience for an app can get expensive, says Jay Gyuricza, GM of Possible Mobile. Teaming up with a YouTube star with a built-in fanbase is a way to recruit newcomers to the brand.
“If you’re already a passionate fan, you’re likely to download and interact with a brand’s app,” Gyuricza says. “But new customers, they’re not downloading an app just to try on new makeup.”