- WPP and Snap Inc. announced a global partnership centered on the development of augmented reality (AR) products, specifically ones that link AR with e-commerce, per a blog post by the agency holding group. The news makes WPP the first Agency AR partner for Snap.
- Through the AR Lab, WPP clients can collaborate on new Snapchat products, including the recently released Snapchat Trends tool, as well as access a custom strategy guide offering best practices. WPP and Snap at the same time are implementing an optimization scorecard to help marketers track the effectiveness of their AR efforts and adjust tactics in real-time.
- The AR Lab, the latest in a series of recent industry developments focused on social commerce, additionally has an AR certification program that aims to reach, at minimum, 1,000 WPP employees in 2021. Snap will also sponsor a quarterly AR production competition where winning WPP clients in markets like the U.S., U.K. and Canada will see their campaign ideas funded to scale on Snapchat.
The AR Lab looks to combine Snap's focus on AR applications with WPP's extensive service capabilities in creative, media, commerce and technology. The partnership is the latest to recognize the growing role of social commerce, where content shared on platforms like Snapchat can be closely tied to purchases. This could be a more important tactic for brands that are contending with another unusual holiday period that could see pandemic-wary consumers conduct more of their gift-buying online.
WPP and Snap pointed to clear consumer demand for such offerings in their announcement. A recent Deloitte study commissioned by the Snapchat owner revealed that 94% of surveyed respondents plan to use AR for shopping at the same or greater levels in 2022 than they did this year. In a press statement, David Roter, vice president of global agency partnerships at Snap, claimed that more than 200 million Snapchat users engage with AR functions on a daily basis.
Through the latest AR program, Snap is opening up WPP clients' access to new advertising products, such as a Snapchat Trends tool launched in August that draws on popular keywords shared through features like the disappearing Stories format. Those insights are meant to help marketers conduct product market research, refine their copy and build user personas and profiles. They arrive as GroupM, the ad holding group's media-buying division, has doubled its investments in social AR in the last year, according to the announcement.
Marketers that are cautious to put loads of spending behind experimental AR could find the quarterly production competitions appealing, as Snap will provide the funding to scale Snapchat campaigns it views as innovative. Meanwhile, the AR Lab has a dedicated curriculum that aims to ensure WPP employees are up to snuff on the tech.
Snap's rivals are honing a similar focus on shopping, including TikTok and Instagram. TikTok in August inked an agreement with WPP rival Publicis Groupe around social commerce that includes a multi-week incubator program timed for the holidays. In an effort to differentiate itself, Snap has put more resources into AR. A streak of acquisitions by Snap this year has included AR display startup WaveOptics; FitAnalytics, which helps consumers find the right size for online apparel purchases; Screenshop, which lets users scan and shop outfits shared by friends; and Vertebrae, a 3D and AR commerce company.
Marketers are also ramping up their social commerce bets. Packaged goods giant Unilever earlier this week unveiled a new program that will partner with startups that are relevant to its beauty and personal care brands. The first round of pitches for the Positive Beauty Growth Platform is dedicated to social commerce, with Unilever seeking companies specialized in livestreaming shopping, shoppable media, gaming commerce and group buying. The social commerce market broadly is forecast to generate nearly $3.4 trillion in revenue by 2028, per Grand View Research estimates cited by the CPG marketer.