As more brands invest in AR experiences to help boost their marketing efforts, they’re increasingly turning to agencies to help with concepting, design and development. Today’s story is about one such agency, AliveNow, a creative technology shop based in Bangalore, India that’s using Spark AR to help a global portfolio of brands engage with one of the world’s largest consumer markets.
Digital marketing agency, AliveNow, builds breakout AR effects for brands in India
We recently caught up with Adhvith Dhuddu, CEO of AliveNow, to ask him some questions about the agency business, the types of AR projects and experiences brands are exploring, and what he and his growing team of creators are excited about as they think about the future of AR.
Today, how many employees at AliveNow are working on AR client projects?
When we started working on Spark AR about 2 years ago, we had 2 team members exploring and working on the platform. Now we have approximately 12 team members working on AR client projects across development, design and 3D.
And what types of skills do you look for (or value most) in your AR creators?
Our AR team is divided into developers and designers. Given that we always try to push the boundaries with new kinds of Spark AR experiences, we look for developers with good tech skills that can work on the Spark AR platform using their coding experience as well. We want to build Spark AR effects that are complex and impressive, which means our design team has to be great at UI/UX, 3D modeling and animation. So for the design team we look at individuals with a good design and 3D portfolio in terms of skill sets.
What does your AR team do to find inspiration or ideas for new effects?
There are different sources of inspiration for new effects. One approach we use is gesture driven, so given that the uniqueness of AR is face tracking, gestures and world effects, we go gesture-first and discuss what interesting AR experiences can we build based on gestures like nodding your head, blinking, saying something, pouting, etc. Another source of inspiration is looking at interesting campaigns that have been previously executed in video and 2D, and see if they can be transformed into AR experiences. These are just a few ways we find inspiration for new Spark AR effects.
Are you seeing any patterns or commonalities in the types of AR effects clients are asking for?
Yes, we do see some patterns. For example, when the Gibberish effect went viral, a lot of clients were looking to see how they could ride on that trend and create similar gibberish-type effects for their brands. Once a lot of people started seeing and playing AR games on Instagram, there was a lot of interest in that type of AR effect too. Another pattern we see, if clients are from the same sector, is that they often ask for similar kinds of effects. Most of the beauty and cosmetics clients are keen to see what kind of try on experience users can have. Many automobile clients want to use AR to creatively communicate features of their new cars.
Many companies are still learning what’s possible with AR. How do you position the benefits to them?
That's very true, many companies are still discovering AR. Some of the benefits we often discuss with brands and marketing teams, include:
How do you measure success with your AR projects?
This depends a lot on the campaign objective. For example, if the brand is keen to convert more people from the intent phase to evaluation and purchase, we would measure metrics like, how many users tried on lipsticks or glasses or eye shadow and how many of these converted to purchases on an e-commerce platform. We work with OTT platforms where the objective is pure shareability, i.e. more people need to use the AR effect and share, so more impressions mean the campaign is successful. For AR games, the metric is different, how many people shared the score or challenged their friends. So success in AR campaigns is purely based on objective and the type of AR experience we build.
Can you share a few of the challenges your team has run into creating AR effects?
The biggest challenge we face creating AR effects is the education process with brands and marketing teams. Brand and marketing managers always push for more brand exposure or product exposure, but we have to balance this with platform limitations, while ensuring that the consumer doesn't feel force fed and the experience is intuitive. Once produced or built, this is the only kind of creative asset that needs approval other than the brand itself, so very often approval processes hamper launch dates for certain campaigns. Most challenges are quite solvable.
What are you excited about when you think about the future of AR?
There are many things to be excited about. Every few weeks there’s new features and capabilities in Spark AR Studio, which open up new AR ideas. For example, voice activated AR effects give us the opportunity to do voice activated AR games and trigger on-screen events with voice! With smartphones only getting more powerful and apps like Facebook and Instagram becoming more robust in terms of handling complex AR processes, the future of AR is exciting. We foresee AR becoming a seamless and required part of the user journey when it comes to product try ons, product placements, etc.
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