Scaling AR and VR with AdTech

On Tuesday March 26, The In.flux Lab, Ad-Mar Tech Group and the VRAR LA Chapter presented Scaling AR & VR with AdTech, with Tameka Kee, Founder and Creative Director at The In.Flux Lab as moderator, and panelists Jason Steinberg, Managing Partner at Pretty Big Monster, and Luke Peterson, President of U.S. Operations at Geenee. 

As we shift from video to interactive media and VAR (Virtual and Augmented Reality) how do we scale to reach a greater audience in an experience that can exist across platforms?

When VAR first rolled out in advertising, there was no data behind it; these campaigns had never been done before. “Then Snap[chat] hit the market and opened AR,” said Jason Steinberg, Managing Partner at digital agency Pretty Big Monster. Snapchat trained people to hold up their phone to content to activate digital effects. With this technology  in everyone’s pocket, Facebook soon followed, putting two major platforms on the map whose users were engaged with AR on a daily basis.

Image from Snap Inc.

It was this education process that enabled AR advertising to gain traction. “We can now talk about what we can do across platforms, what’s possible and what’s not possible,” said Steinberg. “Web [AR] is where it’s hot because no one wants to develop an app.” Apps push engagement off the main platforms and present other challenges such as downloads that max out the 150MB limit, and also storage of the app that lives on the phone itself.

The way browser based AR works is by adding an additional layer to existing content on web pages, or through image recognition that directly opens a web based AR experience, adding another layer of information to the real world. “Right now, it’s boiling down to who has the technology,” said Luke Peterson, President of US Operations at Geenee, an advanced video and image recognition technology company. This is how Geenee landed the Miller Lite St. Patrick’s Day AR campaign.

“At Geenee, we bridge the physical and digital world using image recognition. We’re giving value to content that is in the real world. We call it content with context,” said Peterson. Rather than use an AI form based recognition, Geenee is an image recognition software.

This worked very well with the particular challenge of Miller Lite’s product that has a reflective material and looks different from every angle. Using image recognition for the can, Geenee brought users to the web AR experience where they could enjoy the activation.

miller lite.JPG

Similarly,  Sony Picture Entertainment’s movie Escape Room campaign team sought out Pretty Big Monster to develop web based AR and VR content that virtually transported audiences into the film using OmniVirt‘s 360 video platform. These 360 ad units can be placed online like any other ad, and open to a 360 web based experience- essentially what someone would see if using VR.


The goal of the project with Sony was to easily drive people to the 360 experience to engage with, share and relive it with others. Steinberg says they are even talking about QR codes again with their clients. “[QR codes] work really well at what they do, and people are used to tying in a URL. It delivers an interactive web page, but it exists on an object in the real world.”

As AR and VR become more commonplace with performance data to justify the medium, it will no longer be considered as the “shiny object” in advertising, but as the way to reach and engage with an audience. “These ads really got people to stop scrolling down the page,” said Steinberg. “At one point we were getting 24x the industry benchmark.”

To date, many of these campaigns and activations are one time only events, although AR and VR are an opportunity for long term engagement marketing. There’s potential to look at the Miller Lite and Sony Escape Room ads as continuous game like campaigns with level ups, sharing, posting, points and rewards.


By Anne McKinnon

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*VAR: Virtual and augmented reality



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