- J.C. Penney and Verizon Media, the advertising and content unit of the phone company, are partnering on a mobile ad campaign for the retailer's Modern Bride collection during the holidays, per an announcement shared exclusively with sister publication Mobile Marketer. Clicking on ads that appear on HuffPost Life, Yahoo Sports and other Verizon Media properties activates an augmented reality (AR) feature in which brides can virtually try on engagement rings. Clipcentric is powering the immersive mobile ads.
- Other ad formats deliver a quiz that lets brides discover their wedding personality — such as "farmhouse forward" and "boho chic" — after answering questions about their lifestyle and fashion tastes. They are then directed to the J.C. Penney site featuring rings that match their style.
- The campaign runs through the end of the year and includes an ad sponsorship on HuffPost Life's "The Look of Love" section to showcase the Modern Bride collection.
J.C. Penney's AR-powered effort is well-timed just ahead of the peak holiday shopping week. Nearly one-fifth of wedding proposals occur in December, according to data cited by the retailer, so positioning the mobile ad campaign around Thanksgiving could serve as a strategic runway into the month when a significant number of consumers are considering a ring purchase.
Virtual try-ons like J.C. Penney's have drawn major attention in the past two years from established brands such as Aveda, Nike and Gucci. Their immersive functionality helps shoppers more accurately visualize items than when browsing a standard website, potentially driving foot traffic into stores for further product inspection and strengthening purchase confidence. Photo-saving capabilities encourage sharing with friends, family and in J.C. Penney's case, significant others.
By linking the AR feature to mobile ads, the department store chain can target potential brides as they browse for gifts during the holiday shopping season and get in front of this high-value audience — a group that's become progressively coveted as the wedding jewelry space transitions to more direct-to-consumer models fit to millennial habits.
"We asked ourselves, how can a retailer bring the unique experience of trying on and shopping for an engagement ring to life via mobile?" Verizon Media's Head of Premium Sales Marinn Jackson told Mobile Marketer. "Commerce should be a two-way street between brands and consumers."
While AR is still in the early days of being integrated with commerce, the technology shows promise for brands. Five percent of people report they've used AR to shop, though 25% said they'll likely use it for shopping in the next year, a survey by researcher GfK found. This suggests marketers have an opportunity to link shoppable AR ads with direct sales.
J.C. Penney's chief rival Macy's tested this type of AR ad by Verizon Media in September. The new full-screen ad format, called Moments, similarly overlaid digital imagery of products on users' real surroundings through a smartphone camera. Verizon Media found in a test on Yahoo Mail that its AR ad format lifted mobile engagement metrics like dwell time to over 60 seconds, per the company's internal data.