For Just Eat, augmented reality isn’t just about people playing with trippy camera effects, it’s a way to drive sales on social networks.
The fast-food delivery service is testing how effective AR ads are at convincing people to order on social networks with an AR camera effect, developed by agency Byte London, that will run on Facebook over the next month as part of Just Eat’s campaign for the football frenzy around the World Cup. Just Eat is awarding certain people who download its app with collectible plates featuring illustrations of food, which when held up in front of the camera effect in Facebook Messenger, turns into the head of ex-footballer John Barnes asking to be licked.
“We don’t do AR for AR’s sake,” said Ben Carter, Just Eat’s marketing director in the U.K. “Everything we do from a social perspective is about driving activity through the funnel. AR isn’t the answer to all marketing, but it does give us a way of engaging with our audiences in a way that you can’t get on other channels.”
The company is considering more tests, now that Facebook has started sharing the performance of the effects with brands. Until recently, advertisers with effects on the social network were only able to see how many times they were used and how many views they generated. In March, however, certain brands were given access to performance data. That’s how Just Eat discovered the first effect it ran in December sparked a surprising amount of orders. The effect had around 102,000 unique impressions, and 10 percent of those people went on to order from the service within seven days during the six-week campaign.
The effect ran at a time when there weren’t many others on the social network, which made it easier for people to discover through their friends sharing it. Around 75 percent of the effect’s reach was not paid for, according to Just Eat. (The effects are free for brands to use, but they can pay to amplify their reach.) Part of that reach came from celebrity chef Ainsley Harriott’s post of himself using it, so the food delivery service is now weighing whether to use influencers in future campaigns.
Other advertisers like StudioCanal pinned effects to their pages and saw shares rise with minimal paid support because it was so easy to be naturally discovered. While they won’t fully offset Facebook’s declining reach for brands over the years, the AR effects are a reprieve for marketers who had resigned themselves to having to spend money to get noticed on the social network.
Unlike other brands, Just Eat piloted AR ads during Facebook’s test of the technology rather than buy Snapchat’s more established formats. The food delivery service was reluctant to pay for a lens on a platform that some media buyers have said costs as much as $1 million per day to use. In recent months, however, Snapchat has lowered its fees.
“The media cost to having a lens on Snapchat had been pretty prohibitive, but that’s changing,” one media exec said. “We saw Snapchat recently, and there’s a lower barrier to entry in terms of media, which can be as low as $40,000 now.”
Adidas and Coty are among a number of advertisers to have been encouraged by Snapchat’s revamped AR pitch. Both brands recently let fans buy directly from their lenses. Ad campaigns with lenses, on average, drive a 15 percent lift in purchase intent and a 9 percent sales lift in the U.S., according to Snapchat numbers verified by Nielsen.
Just Eat has done little on Snapchat, but the success of its Facebook effect combined with Snapchat’s easy performance tracking could tempt it to buy a lens to see which platform’s ads are more effective.
While AR on social networks can drive results, AR still needs a bigger audience to interest performance marketers, said Kieran Bass, managing partner at digital creative agency Kitty. Until this changes, AR is likely to be used for branding campaigns, and any performance metrics that come from the campaigns will likely be treated as a bonus, he said.