We’re exploring a new frontier in the eCommerce world with this episode! Scott interviews Casie Lane Millhouse, an Innovation and Technology Communicator consulting in the AR/VR space, about augmented reality, what it is, and its current place in the eCommerce landscape.
While Casie believes that AR technology hasn’t hit its tipping point yet, more and more fashion brands are integrating it into their marketing strategy – find out the advantages of researching & investing in this strategy now to help bring your brand into the forefront of eCom advertising.
Equal parts insightful and mind-blowing, this conversation also includes Casie’s walkthrough of the advancements made within the AR space now, the exciting capabilities of augmented reality, and what makes social AR different from web AR. Scott & Casie also discuss a particularly fun & exciting case study of Augmented Reality ads that will pique your interest. You don’t wanna miss this one!
For more real-time updates, connect with Casie:
If you enjoyed this episode, connect with us and share your feedback:
Join our Growth & Greatness eCommerce group and connect with fellow business owners & digital marketers alike: Growth & Greatness eCommerce on Facebook
If you want to learn more about us and what we do at Right Hook, visit our website: Right Hook Digital
0:00 – 0:27 – G&G eCommerce Podcast Theme
This is the Growth & Greatness eCommerce Podcast, powered by Right Hook Digital, with your hosts Scott Seward & Raymond Johnston. If you’re an eCommerce brand founder, entrepreneur, or marketer looking to accelerate profitable growth for your business, then listen in ‘cause this is the podcast for you.
0:27 – 5:30 – Introduction of guest Casie Lane Millhouse
Scott (0:27 – 1:12) – Alright, we are back with the Growth & Greatness Podcast. We are gonna take a little peek into the future of eCommerce today. Very exciting call – we have Casie Lane Milhouse with us, who is an AR specialist, and we are gonna start talking about what that’s gonna look like in the eCommerce industry over the next 5, 10 years. And this is exciting for me because this is one of those rabbit holes that I haven’t gone down. I know nothing about it, pretty much, so I’m gonna ask the most rookie level questions and, hopefully, help out a lot of people who, I guess, have that level of knowledge as well. I think you can probably dive into some areas that are a little more advanced, but Casie, give us an intro. How did you get into this space? What’s going on? Let’s start there.
Casie (1:12 – 4:00) – I love that question because a lot of people don’t realize I come from a non-traditional tech background. I was a gymnastics coach for over a decade in 4 different countries. When I came to Singapore, I kind of, like, hit this point where I was like, I’m seeing all this technology built around me. I want to understand it, I want to learn it, and see how I can become a shapeshifter in that sense as well. I picked up some marketing skills and it ended up getting my first, kinda, dabble into a start-up, and this was a virtual reality company. As soon as I put that toaster on my face, I was like, what is this?! Oh my God, it’s the coolest stuff ever! Our start-up, we only had 3 people, and we were in the middle of, like, a blockchain, cybersecurity office. Everybody would be so pissed off ‘cause we’re just, like, having fun in the VR, of course, we were doing work too, but we needed to test out what we were building. We were actually building a tool for yacht sales, which is really cool. Through that time, I learned a lot about immersive technology, what the difference between AR and VR was, and then, eventually, I rolled off and started to spin off my own agency, so we’re seeing mainly start-ups and higher technology. Around 2018, I launched my own digital agency because I was hiring so many people, I decided to make this legit. That’s about the same time that AR Studio came out. AR Studio is the, what Spark AR on Facebook used to be. I was part of the 180 people that were part of this private data program. One of my, actually, two of the closest people I know were the first 2 to ever build Instagram filters that were not done by the Facebook team. I was part, actually, I built something, we can talk about it later, that inspired the product team to build AR ads and have been tested for them. Now, as I mentioned before in the call, I’m starting to launch my own company here in Singapore. We have invented, over time, metamaterial. So that is a super, super-thin material, about 1/33rd the size of your hair, or the width of your hair, that can go on any glass surface – prescription, any shape, or any form…
Scott (4:00 – 4:01) – Wow!
Casie (4:02 – 4:27) – Plus, materials – windshields, this is over the 7 years in the university lab. It can make anything AR so we’re really pumped about it because it’s not like we are building something. We are building something that all of the hardware, even Facebook, you saw Ray-Ban, maybe, come out earlier today…
Scott (4:26 – 4:28) – Yup, looks cool.
Casie (4:30 – 4:37) – And Apple glass. These aren’t our competitors, these are, actually, our future customers because they’ve been looking for our solution.
Scott (4:37 – 4:38) – Wow.
Casie (4:38 – 4:52) – So, I’m really excited to talk about the AR space from what I’ve known and where I see it moving into the future. Maybe you guys can call me out on it, in a few years, and say, she was wrong…
Scott (4:53 – 5:30) – I feel like you might be right! That’s so cool! Like, my only experience, we had our company retreat last year, before COVID happened, and that was my only experience with, I think, VR, and we’ll get into the difference between VR and AR. Everyone’s just sitting there, dancing, playing games, playing Star Wars, and it was a really, really cool experience. I’d never done that before so, I think, going through that, and then you start, it’s like, oh, shit, that’s where it’s at. You didn’t actually realize what it was, what it evolved into, because, you know, I haven’t really played Nintendo for 15, 20 years so it’s been a little while.
5:31 – 9:50 – The difference between AR (Augmented Reality) & VR (Virtual Reality)
Scott (5:31 – 5:36) – But let’s go there. Just so there’s no confusion, let’s get clear on what’s the difference between AR and VR?
Casie (5:36 – 5:54) – So we’ll dabble into VR because that’s. kind of, the easier one to understand. So virtual reality is when you’re completely immersed into a space. So, like I mentioned before, it’s like a toaster; right now, it’s the size of a toaster and your entire vision…
Scott (5:54 – 5:58) – A toaster is… with the goggles?
Casie (5:58 – 6:00) – It goes right… Yes!
Scott (5:59 – 6:00) – Cool!
Casie (6:01 – 7:23) – It goes right unto your face. It covers, well, it tries to cover and block everything that’s from your natural view. It’s kind of, like, putting a blindfold on. The light is projected on a screen and it takes you into this wonderful world, wherever you decide to go. There’s also spatial sounds so 3D design with the sound makes it a truly immersive experience. You don’t even see where you are, you’re taken into another world. That is virtual reality. And then you have, augmented reality, which some people do get those 2 mixed up – augmented reality is when you are placing digital assets or digital aspects of the digital life into your physical world. So, with augmented reality, you do need some sort of lens, or screen, or contact lenses to be able to display those items. They can be 3D designs, they can be 2D designs, it could be a mixture of both, and then there’s some experimentation with augmented audio… My cat is going crazy, running around!
Scott (7:23 – 7:26) – There’s always gonna be cat issues when you do your podcast recording!
Casie (7:26 – 7:29) – It does! You hear some rips…
Scott (7:29 – 7:31) – It’s cats or kids, one or the other.
Casie (7:32 – 8:20) – That’s not augmented reality. There’s a lot of parts where these 2 technologies do get mixed or assets can be used for both of them. For example, a lot of the things with 3D design, we can see it on a 2D screen when we’re looking at it through our computer. But, when you bring it into augmented reality or virtual reality, you’re able to manipulate it, the size. You’re able to, maybe even go inside of that 3D asset. You can go under, around, you can spin it. You can move it around. So that’s where both of the technologies, you’re able to move within a space, or manipulate the digital aspect of your space.
Scott (8:21 – 8:38) – Wow! It’s hard to fathom, like, where this has all come from. It feels like it’s kind of crept up out of nowhere. It was like it was spoken about 10 years ago, and it’s sort of just been bubbling away and bouncing out of the surface. It feels like it’s just been really at that super, super early adoption stage and then it’s about to explode over the next decade, right?
Casie (8:40 – 8:47) – Yeah. What a lot of people don’t understand is that augmented reality has been around since the 1950s.
Scott (8:47 – 8:48) – Really?!
Casie (8:48 – 8:56) – Yeah. It was actually used for military purposes, which is also one of the biggest industries for augmented reality.
Scott (8:56 – 8:57) – Right!
Casie (8:56 – 9:22) – Virtual reality started off as, a scientist had the idea that, hey, we can put the TVs closer to our face. That was the very first iteration of what virtual reality has become. It has been around for quite some time, but the accessibility hasn’t been there for the consumers.
Scott (9:22 – 9:23) – Got it.
Casie (9:24 – 9:50) – There hasn’t been this awareness and, now, due to the social platforms, a lot more people are aware of the augmented reality. Virtual reality, Facebook, kind of, had a big push of it with the Christmas sales last year. We’re gonna be seen a little bit more as the prices come down and make it more accessible to consumers all over the globe, not just in the major markets.
9:51 – 14:59 – Timelines on mass adoption of AR technology
Scott (9:51 – 9:57) – What do you think the timeline looks on that where it becomes more of that mass adoption technology?
Casie (9:57 – 11:20) – Yeah, I still think virtual reality is gonna take a little bit longer, I think, due to people really not seeing how it can be used in everyday, practical life. For me, I don’t see that either, and also, it’s gonna be hard to get those costs down. Then, we have the AR. We’ve seen social AR take off, probably in the past couple years, but it hasn’t hit its tipping point yet. We see it in many different verticals like medicine, military is also using it, quite heavily. Enterprise solutions, energy, oil, gas, the manufacturing processes, training, upscaling, but within, we’ll be seeing, Apple’s gonna be coming out with their AR glasses. Then, we have Facebook, Google may be launching something again. As those costs come down, they’re about $300 right now. It’s still a cool thing to have, but as those costs come down, and hopefully, with our technology, we’ll be able to help people build those out, the prescription lenses, and combine it more with optometry. The augmented reality, I believe it’s going to have a massive tipping point in about 2 years.
Scott (11:20 – 11:21) – Okay.
Casie (11:21 – 11:26) – That’s where I see things going to be really exploding. Now’s the time…
Scott (11:26 – 11:54) – Now’s the time to be really thinking about it! Get ahead of the curve, yeah! For those of you who didn’t see the, I think it was Zuckerberg that had his poster with the Ray-Ban thing, and he gave you that bird’s eye view of him playing table tennis, it looks pretty cool, like the direction where it’s going. What are some of the other use cases you touched on? It’s being used in the military, oil, gas. What are some of the other use cases that are happening there within the moment?
Casie (11:54 – 12:46) – I love this one because I had no idea, until a few years ago, when I dove into it a little bit more. So, in medical, a lot of it is being used to assist surgeons. They wear a headset over their stuff, or they can use it for training as well, because they will be able to have the same visual experiences, recreate the human body. They can even animate it as well, to help them learn. It’s been shown that, studies have proven that, the memory retention and the recall of those experiences for learning has a 70% higher impact than…
Scott (12:46 – 12:54) – Yeah, makes sense. That’s as close as you can to simulating without cutting someone open, right, to practice surgery?
Casie (12:54 – 13:20) – If you mess it up, you can try it again over and over and over again. So, I really love the training aspect of it. Some of the things that I’ve always been fighting for and trying to voice is that these technologies, whether it be augmented reality or virtual reality, a lot of the products right now are designed to be inclusive.
Scott (13:20 – 13:21) – Got it.
Casie (13:21 – 14:40) – That is, like, our deaf friends or people who are hard of hearing, like, they already have a heightened sense of, you know, touch, smell, and visual. What I believe is, we need to be able to take all this data we have, and create an intelligence augmentation for them. How we have our closed captioning, in real-time, we even have the closed captioning in the 2D circuit. How can we start building products to do that with the lenses? Can we do closed captioning for people that we are speaking to? Can we do automatic translations going to a foreign country? These are the things that I see as a more practical use case. Once we can build these products for our friends who do have disabilities, like, they’re built for people with disabilities, that they open the accessibility and practicality for everyday use for people like you and me that may not have these disabilities. And then I see that you’re wearing glasses too. There are products out there that they are building that are not for people that have, you know, a little bit of eyesight problem.
Scott (14:40 – 14:44) – I’m out! I know.
Casie (14:45 – 14:59) – Sorry, Facebook! Scott’s not gonna look too cool! Yeah, we have to think about the inclusion and building for people like you first.
15:01 – 25:45 – What makes social AR different and how can fashion brands use it?
Scott (15:01 – 15:14) – There’s so many things that I wouldn’t have even thought of where it’s actually already being applied. That makes a lot of sense. You touched on the social AR part. How does that differ from it being used with web apps?
Casie (15:15 – 15:24) – That’s a good question. Social AR is, really, it’s built within the platforms themselves.
Scott (15:24 – 15:25) – Okay.
Casie (15:26 – 16:48) – Probably a lot of the listeners listening are probably working in Facebook and we know about all the Facebook products. This is just another Facebook product that is built to help marketers to make amazing experiences for brands so that the brands pay more money to Facebook and be able to get a better return in experimenting with these new formats. I think it’s always like a win-win when a marketer or a brand can take advantage of something that is, like, a new release. It’s kind of like when you dabble into it and you see the results, and you’re like, what!? The other aspect of it is, the social AR is actually meant to be social. We see gamification or we see the meme sort of stuff on Instagram that has less practicality, but it definitely has value to the people that are playing with it. From a brand standpoint too, if you’re doing regular ads, just doing video ads to bring brand awareness, and your CPMs are up to $7, that’s with AR in Singapore, you can get…
Scott (16:47 – 16:51) – I wish we had $7 CPMs across the board.
Casie (16:51 – 17:14) – Yeah, if you look at the impressions on a filter that’s done very well, I wouldn’t use the word viral, but if it gets millions of views over the weekend, that’s money well-spent. Even if you are paying the developer, like, compare that to your CPMs, it’s just mind-blowing.
Scott (17:15 – 17:24) – How are they actually doing that? Let’s just say, Instagram for example, how are brands doing this and utilizing it in their marketing at the moment?
Casie (17:25 – 17:39) – A lot of the brands that I’ve been working for, consulting with, we’ll actually come up with different funnels of filters. We do the fun gamification ones that have, like, branding elements.
Scott (17:39 – 17:40) – Okay.
Casie (17:41 – 17:56) – I like to steer away from doing, like, product trials and stuff like that right out of the gate because you want to warm up your audience to this new format that you have. A lot of people on Instagram already know about these filters and the fun stuff.
Scott (17:55 – 17:56) – Yup.
Casie (17:57 – 18:01) – Some of them even seek out the new stuff so that they can be the first one of their friends to do it.
Scott (18:01 – 18:02) – My kids love it!
Casie (18:02 – 18:04) – Yeah! So are mine!
Scott (18:05 – 18:09) – You’re on FaceTime and you don’t talk. You’re just sitting there, putting stupid faces.
Casie (18:09 – 18:26) – Yeah! So, within, I tend to go with the approach, like, let’s look at what you’ve already done. Let’s look at your funnel. What are you doing at the top of the funnel that brings people in, that hooks them to what you’re doing?
Scott (18:27 – 18:34) – What would a fashion brand, for example, do there? What’s something that they can do to get, break that initial barrier?
Casie (18:34 – 18:39) – If we’re looking at fashion, let’s take, just like, female millennials…
Scott (18:38 – 18:40) – Yeah, perfect.
Casie (18:40 – 19:01) – As the target. I would do something that has, depending on the branding, I would use something that has the branding of that brand. So maybe they use a certain type of filter or a certain type of preset in all of their images…
Scott (19:01 – 19:02) – Got it.
Casie (19:02 – 19:18) – I tend to recreate that. And maybe do some skin smoothing. I wouldn’t do any make-up or anything on it. Maybe something that changes the color or the aspect, or maybe some sparkles. Everybody loves to do little sparkles on the edge.
Scott (19:17 – 19:18) – Yeah, yeah.
Casie (19:19 – 19:37) – So that would be, like, the first thing, just to warm up your audience into using the filter, into going into your filter tray, and to saving that. That would be the warm-up, so to speak.
Scott (19:17 – 19:47) – So to be, like, indoctrinating them into your brand visual using the filters that you’ve built your brand around, right?
Casie (19:48 – 19:49) – Yeah, yeah!
Scott (19:50 – 19:53) – They could basically recreate photos of themselves, similar to your brand’s styling or…
Casie (19:54 – 20:18) – Yeah! So, for a creator or a developer, if that company or brand has been using, like, Photoshop and they use a specific LUT, we could even use, we could take that same LUT that is used in the preset, pop that into Spark AR, do a little bit of coding magic…
Scott (20:18 – 20:20) – What’s a LUT for the Photoshop rookies?
Casie (20:21 – 20:31) – So, a LUT is, I can’t remember what it’s called, but a LUT is essentially a filter to change color, the depth, the contrast.
Scott (20:31 – 20:32) – Right.
Casie (20:32 – 20:39) – I think of, like, you know, the VSCO girls. That’s how I explain.
Scott (20:39 – 20:40) – Got it, got it.
Casie (20:41 – 22:15) – That’s what I would do at, like, the top of the funnel for fashion brands. Going into, a little bit, lower into the funnel, if we have some sort of textures or anything like that, if it’s clothing, right now, we can’t do clothing just yet. If there’s any accessories, that low-hanging fruit, that lower-end value of product, I would go there and do that. Because we have something, oh, it’s only 5 bucks to buy these earrings, I’m gonna check it out, or I’m gonna put them on, wear them, and then maybe go into the website and see what else they have. You’re getting them into the mood – okay, cool earrings, but maybe even throwing other branding elements into the mix as well, I like to use the brand colors or maybe even textures, patterns from some of the clothing that might be on their website, so that they have some sort of recall. Oh, I remember this texture, I remember this pattern, and they’re on the website and their eye probably draws to it. You just have to think a little bit more behind the psychology, how people have a brand recall or an image recall that can take the eye to wherever they are on the website, and exactly to where you want them to go.
Scott (22:15 – 22:43) – That’s super exciting. How do you see that evolving, and you said, like, you can’t really do it so much, well, with clothes and things right now. Where’s that, sort of, progressing? I think that’s, like, the whole virtual shopping cart, that’s where I see it going. I love to hear your perspective on that. I can just go and try things on, and see how it looks, do it from the comfort of my own home, don’t have to go to the store or whatever. What’s that sort of area looking like?
Casie (22:43 – 23:05) – So we’re seeing a little bit of experimentation on Snapchat already. They have a much superior augmented reality system, developer platform, the machine learning is far superior to what is able for developers to create on Spark AR.
Scott (23:05 – 23:06) – Okay.
Casie (23:06 – 23:32) – So they have been experimenting with digital clothing over there. It’s more, like, the fun, the future of fashion is going to be here. I haven’t seen anybody, I’m pretty close to a lot of the developers in the Snap Creator Program as well, to actually work with the brands in this space. The tracking is still a little bit off. It’s like, it looks like, definitely is a layer over you.
Scott (23:32 – 23:33) – Right.
Casie (23:33 – 23:41) – But, when we take it off of social platforms, we already have in-store mirrors where people…
Scott (23:41 – 23:42) – I’ve seen some of those, yeah.
Casie (23:42 – 24:14) – You know, checking out the accessories, and it doesn’t look like it’s this digital layer over you. If you’re wearing something that’s more slim-fitting and more nude, it’s going to look like the clothing. You can actually spin, and the physics, the physics, is, like, how the digital clothing moves, it’s a more natural look. Those are already more on the, like, high-street retail outlets.
Scott (24:16 – 24:28) – I think I’ve seen it. It’s basically a mirror, and then you’re trying on a virtual wardrobe. It’s in the store, but instead of having to go and try the actual clothes, you can just go through it, right? It’s super cool.
Casie (24:28 – 25:26) – Yeah, yeah. It’s amazing. I think it’s quite, I think the only thing missing, though, is, like, when I go to a shop, it’s that try on first, the feeling of the clothes. I think, you know, those of you who work in eCommerce, that’s always something that people wanna know. Is this going to fit me exactly, is this going to fit me right? If we can take that a step further, a lot of people go into the reviews, and they look at what other people say about how it fits and how it feels, if we can add that element into that experience… You’re trying on the clothes and you can also see the reviews, or even pictures of what other people look like in it, that gives you another layer of that intelligence I was talking about, the augmented intelligence. I think there’s a lot of things that can be played into that to make this an even better experience for consumers.
Scott (25:26 – 25:45) – Yeah, that’s cool. The only client that we know who’ve played in this space a little bit, with eyelashes. That’s worked quite well for them. They’ve made an AR filter where you can try magnetic eyelashes on. That was cool. I looked beautiful in them, nearly bought a pair. My wife got some. It did its job, it was good.
25:50 – 36:24 – The advantages of investing & building a strategy for augmented reality
Scott (25:50 – 26:11) – If we’re looking at this right now, and looking at it from a brand perspective and trying to be an early adopter, now would be a good time to try and get ahead of the curve, right? We’re looking at what this is gonna look like for eCom. What sort of advantages do you think the brands are gonna get by starting to invest in this now, research it, understand it, and build a bit of a strategy around it for the next 5 years?
Casie (26:11 – 26:27) – Yeah, that’s a good question. I’ve been doing some consulting with other agencies to really understand this. What I know about Facebook is that they always want these success stories so that they can share about it…
Scott (26:27 – 26:28) – Yup.
Casie (26:28 – 28:20) – So, I’ve brought all of these success stories to Facebook and imagine having your case study on the Facebook page. As a brand, like, that is probably the best, sort of, proof to how good of a company you are. That is one. And then, if we think about the ads, how much you’re spending in ads, how much time & effort & money you have to do revolving and switching out your ad creatives, these experiences with social allow that user-generated content to be ongoing. You can launch a filter in December, if it’s not a Christmas one, and people will still be playing with it. They’ll be sharing it. There’s people that can play with it, and those are called captures, or not captures. Those are opens, so people are playing with it, and they’re usually doing about 40 seconds. It’s not like they’re viewing a video or passively going through it. Then they can capture it, so that means saving it to their camera roll, or it’s about to go on a Story right before you hit publish. Then, you have people that share it so sharing with their audience, and then you have all their friends and followers being able to view it. There’s many different aspects of that consumer and creator with your brand. This is a little, this has a lot more longevity. That is really one of the key benefits, I believe, is to have people actually experience your brand instead of being part of your community. I know you guys can’t see my quotes!
Scott (28:21 – 28:22) – There’s some air quotes in there, everyone.
Casie (28:22 – 29:27) – Yeah, essentially, you’re building, like, little brand ambassadors every time they share your content or sharing your stuff. This way, you’re building a more, closer relationship with your potential clients, or your clients, or, you know, building that advocacy for your brand. I think that has a big, powerful benefit to brands, especially if you’re starting out, or you’ve been around awhile and you can see your sales kind of levelling out. And then, on the other side of it, we look at how that’s going to help you with your ads. You’ll be able to retarget those people that have played with these experiences. You can even go based on how long that they’ve used it. With it, and when you think about the CPMs, like I talked about, you’re really gonna cut down on your ad spend, then you can crank it up on the more bottom of the funnel with those people that have been close to your brand.
Scott (29:27 – 29:49) – That definitely sounds like some huge advantages there from a direct response standpoint. UGC side, I hadn’t even thought about, because that’s often a challenge for a lot of brands. It’s getting that content. For us, on the advertising side, it’s often 1 UGC ad that can crack open an entire account. If you’ve got a consistent flow of that, I think, it’s a really, really good way to be able to get it.
Casie (29:51 – 30:49) – And when you mix influencer marketing with that, just imagine. If you are a brand, one of the really good things about launching filters is you can launch them on multiple accounts. So, that same filter, you can say, alright, influencer, we wanna make this filter with you. What is your inspiration? What do you wanna see? Launch it on the brand account, launch it on the influencer account. Share those Pixels with them, or get their access to their audience, and then be able to pull in some of that UGC content, put it into your funnel. You can do that multiple times with those influencers that you have really great relationships with. What you and I know, and people listening, influencer marketing works when you have a longer relationship and you can actually be co-creators with them. I think that is another aspect that can help skyrocket your results.
Scott (30:49 – 31:23) – Yeah, sounds like there’s a lot of, I think, paths that this can go, knowing that people haven’t even thought about or considered yet. In terms of the tech adoption side, let’s look at that. We sort of know how this is gonna impact things and brands can start using it. What needs to change from that, what needs to happen really for it, to become more mainstream here? What are the changes that need to happen with the tech? You mentioned earlier that it’s a bit of a cost prohibitor. What else do you think?
Casie (31:23 – 33:05) – There is, a lot of creators that are building on Facebook and Instagram that are, you know, they’re cream of the crop. They’ve been around since we started with them. These are a little bit more higher-end, they cost maybe, like, $20,000 just to work with. We’ve seen projects go up to $100,000 for some larger brands. There are 97,000 people in the Spark AR community that really want to get started with some work, you can even test with them. There’s creators all over the world so being able to work with a handful of them and test out their abilities, and most creators learn something new everyday. They want to work, they want to learn, they want to be challenged on something that, you know, maybe somebody says, oh you know, they probably can’t do it. They’ll probably go out and seek to learn it within a week, and come back to you & say, hey, we know how to do this! The platform challenges with Facebook and Instagram, Instagram, people have that selfie mentality so getting them to use it is a lot easier than running Facebook ads or getting people on Facebook to do it. Facebook just isn’t like that selfie, I’m gonna take a picture, I’m gonna open up my camera, sort of platform. So that user, I hate saying this, that education of people who are on Facebook is a little bit more of a challenge when you’re pulling that into the marketing mix.
Scott (33:05 – 33:12) – It’s still us oldies on there. We’ve all got glasses and we can’t, we’ve been excluded.
Casie (33:16 – 34:20) – And then we haven’t really talked about web AR. So web AR is when there’s augmented reality that can be plopped into your website or popped into another domain or web platform. Even now, Shopify even has a way for you to build in augmented reality experiences. Even more so than getting people to use it on Facebook, there’s even more of a challenge to get them to use it. Like, if I was coming natively to a website, you would have to teach me and tell me that there’s AR, how to use it, and what to expect. A lot of the phones, some people use old phones, I’m still on an [iPhone] 8. The technology and the hardware of the phones may not be up to the speeds where the software is. And so, a lot of times, even for me, my phone takes, like, 7 seconds to load an AR experience. Sometimes, it won’t load at all.
Scott (34:20 – 34:21) – Right.
Casie (34:21 – 34:36) – Because the software is way too highly advanced. So those are some of the barriers that we do see in the education or the fall-off or the drop-off of people that are like, doesn’t work, this is dumb, I don’t get it, why isn’t it working for me?
Scott (34:36 – 35:03) – That was like, you know, you go back 10 years and it was people using, my friends started using their Internet, browsing the Internet on their phones. I was like, it’s just too slow, it doesn’t make sense. And then, it starts working, and then it makes sense. On the web AR side, an example of that, would that be, like, where, let’s just say you got a furniture one and you can upload an image of your lounge room or something like that, and you can place furniture. Would that be?
Casie (35:03 – 35:09) – Yes, yeah. I love those ones, they’re so cool!
Scott (35:09 – 35:11) – Probably the only one I can figure out.
Casie (35:12 – 36:25) – Yeah, like, I used to go on Etsy a long time ago, like when I had kids for like birthday party stuff. Now, Etsy has augmented reality in their app so furniture, like, the hand-crafted stuff, posters. You can even put, like, posters and check them out, what they look like in your house. I love that, I love doing that. I even bought, like, one thing that’s in my bedroom because I use that. The web AR experiences are a little more advanced than the social – to be able to place items inside of your home, check it out, what it looks like. People are doing that through their own website as well, Shopify has a nice integration that’s kind of having to use a totally different platform. There’s a lot of STKs that can go right into apps already. A lot of the different aspects of augmented reality are starting to converge. It’s made it a lot more easier for brands to take advantage of it and use it as a tool to help sell more, or to help build brands, or whatever else they want to do.
36:27 – 39:12 – Some best practices & tips for delving into augmented reality for marketing
Scott (36:27 – 37:04) – Awesome. Let’s just say a brand right now has listened to this. They’re thinking, this sounds really exciting, I want to get ahead of the curve. What would be the best way for them to go about it? Let’s start with budget. What would be a realistic cost there? And then, let’s just say the next step is finding a developer, what would be some best practices coming in, and let’s just say this is me because I have no idea trying to talk to a developer about what I’m doing and speaking that language. What would be the best way of getting this moving and investing in it now?
Casie (37:04 – 38:49) – I think I’ll bring it back to what I talked about before. Think about your funnel, and start building from the top, like building the awareness part. Don’t think about trying to go for that sale right away. This is like the fun aspect of it. Think about the branding elements. What can you do to make it more fun, make this a fun experience? What can you do to keep people on the app a little bit longer, if you’re doing Instagram? Instagram really likes to add to help with your algorithm too. Start thinking there. I wouldn’t go for a major campaign, I wouldn’t go that route right away. You just wanna dip your toes into it. Maybe budget about $5,000 USD. You can go even a lot cheaper than that, if you’re looking for, maybe doing multiple projects with one campaign. And then, reach out to the Spark AR community. There’s people there that can do it for an economical price so that you can still make money on the back-end of it. You’re not paying all that $5,000 dollars for a developer because you still want to be able to, like, have that, you know, leeway of money there. That’s what I would recommend, start at the top of the funnel, do something fun, do something light to warm up your audience, but also to kind of test out and get your toes and feet wet, dabbling into AR.
Scott (38:50 – 39:12) – That makes so much sense. You know, it’s about thinking, given where it is from an adoption standpoint, there’s no point in investing everything in, but if you start understanding it now, and as it starts progressing, you can start putting more money into it as the technology and the phones and everything else develops. A lot of really good insights there.
39:14 – 49:16 – Augmented reality ads: An immersive experience for customers
Scott (39:14 – 39:16) – Is there anything else that you think we haven’t covered that would be really relevant to the audience?
Casie (39:17 – 39:21) – I think we haven’t really talked about the ads yet.
Scott (39:21 – 39:24) – Okay. Let’s dive in there.
Casie (39:24 – 40:04) – Yeah. I’ve been consulting for a marketer who runs an agency and he wanted to learn everything he could about this space. He immediately got a client onboard, they’re an accessories client, which is really great. I think they’re out of Australia as well. I think it was last week, he launched the campaign, he was getting a 17x return on the top of the funnel. Top of the funnel, everybody! I haven’t checked him on him, but he was, like, there’s another sale, there’s another sale!
Scott (40:04 – 40:06) – Someone’s broken.
Casie (40:06 – 41:12) – Yeah, he was like, I can’t believe this because the brand had been struggling for a while to, really, get their ads going. The ad experience is like this, so Facebook ads, they have AR ads. You have, essentially, 3 different parts to it. You have the ad that people see in their feed, and it goes on mobile audiences only, and it says, click to try on. People are, like, seeing this in their feed and it takes up the whole real estate of the phone. They’re like, what is this!? They’re probably like, what is going on!? The creative needs to be a little bit different. It needs to explain what is happening. It’s not just the filter. I always tell them, it needs to be a video of somebody with their phone doing the experience, and then you can see what’s happening as well. That creative needs to be on point. Once they click, it pops open their Facebook Messenger and their camera on Facebook Messenger, it’s actually an Instant Experience…
Scott (41:12 – 41:14) – Okay.
Casie (41:16 – 41:27) – And so, they’re in the Experience, and if you’re doing a brand awareness or a reach campaign, the call-to-action is like a swipe up feature.
Scott (41:27 – 41:28) – Got it.
Casie (41:29 – 41:37) – And so, for a traffic campaign and a conversion campaign, it’s a massive button.
Scott (41:37 – 41:38) – Right.
Casie (41:38 – 42:09) – It’s like, this is when you open it up. It’s not when you’re hitting record, not when you’re playing with it yet. It’s like a massive button. And so, if you get out of it, you have to go completely out of Facebook and then go back in. If you don’t click on the button or swipe up to go to wherever you’re at, you pull in to that Experience. Essentially, the person is the ad, so you become the ad!
Scott (42:09 – 42:19) – Sorry, I just had a Caddyshack flashback, be the ball! Be the ad!
Casie (42:19 – 42:58) – You are a player, or you’re an actress or an actor, in the ad of this brand, of this ad on Facebook. And then, after you capture it, it pushes you to share it immediately. It makes you share it to your friends and family on your feed, or in a Story, and then it takes you back into the ad. After you share it, it takes you back into the ad with this massive call-to-action button. You’re probably gonna be clicking on those buttons ‘cause a lot of people can’t see that little X on the upper left-hand corner to take them back to their feed.
Scott (43:00- 43:09) – This is crazy! I’ve not seen any of this so I’m trying to visualize it in my head, what this flow looks like. What’s the initial creative here?
Casie (43:09 – 43:19) – The initial creative, it could be the filter or the Experience itself, but I always like to have that education aspect of it…
Scott (43:19 – 43:20) – Okay.
Casie (43:20 – 43:30) – On that front-facing video. And then, it pops you into that Experience and it’s the demo video of how it works.
Scott (43:29 – 43:30) – Right.
Casie (43:31 – 43:35) – And then, you click to open up…
Scott (43:34 – 43:35) – Open it up.
Casie (43:36 – 44:09) – Your face. It’s pretty nuts! It’s like, you know, maybe you see a guy on the corner of the shop, with the sign, saying like free fries with a hotdog, and then you walk by, get a little bit of closer look, and then all of a sudden, you go into the store, and you’re like wait, and then you go back out, and then you end up being the person with the sign!
Scott (44:09 – 44:25) – Oh my God! This is bizarre! This is bizarre! I’m gonna go hunting for one of these after this. You’re gonna send me a link, I actually have to see this. I have not seen it. I’m not surprised they’re getting 17x. People would just be so curious.
Casie (44:25 – 44:33) – Yeah, because it’s, like, brand-new, and you’re like, what have I just stumbled on Facebook? Is this, like, a new feature?
Scott (44:33 – 44:34) – Amazing.
Casie (44:34 – 45:03) – And so, yeah, the AR ads are incredible. And then, you have, like, the really cool tracking behind it is very similar to the Instant Experience. So you can set up different tracking on it so that you can do retargeting campaigns. Yeah, the AR ads are pretty incredible. Not that many people even think about doing them because they’re, like, Instagram, Instagram, Instagram.
Scott (45:03 – 45:04) – Yeah.
Casie (45:05 – 45:32) – I would say, like, those, sort of, bottom-of-funnel sort of Experiences might be good. I launched out a campaign that went to Facebook Messenger, so it’s Facebook ads to Facebook Messenger so that I can talk to whoever was doing it, and give them what to expect. They did the AR filter, then they would come back into the chat bot, and then I could give them offers. So, this is another way…
Scott (45:31 – 45:32) – Wow.
Casie (45:34 – 46:01) – You can use your Facebook Messenger ads into that, and you have that same sort of experience, but you’re able to communicate with them a little bit before and a little bit after as well. Put your marketing hat on and really think about, okay, the AR experience is actually a part of this ecosystem of Facebook products. How can you use that to your advantage, with the ad too.
Scott (46:01 – 46:21) – I feel like it’s just not on people’s radars yet. We do a lot with Instant Experiences, especially after the iOS14 changes, trying to keep people in-app, and using them more as a landing page so we can retarget off them. Integrating this into it, my mind’s sort of pinging off everywhere at the moment. This is really, really exciting. This is super cool.
Casie (46:21 – 46:36) – I always love talking to marketers because they get it after I start telling them and explaining. Alright, keep people on the platform for as long as you can, and get them excited about the brands so that they’re really wanting it.
Scott (46:36 – 46:57) – Yeah. From a brand engagement standpoint, this is, there’s nothing else like it. Everyone else is competing in the same space so if you can actually differentiate here, yeah, I feel like this is probably a rabbit hole that we’re gonna dive into a little bit deeper next year. We might be having some follow up discussions. This is cool!
Casie (46:58 – 47:39) – Yeah, if anybody wants to talk to me, I’d be happy to. I might be a little bit busy, but I can be free to, people that I worked one-on-one who have actually, like, taken the actions and have learned a lot more, probably, from doing and testing, like, Rich Watson, he’s out in Vietnam, has his own little agency, decides to launch an AR agency that can work directly with brands or work with other agencies. I’m really proud of him, he kind of took off in the past couple of months. I don’t know if there’s anybody else out there like that, except for people that work in much larger agencies.
Scott (47:39 – 47:40) – Got it.
Casie (47:41 – 47:54) – But I’d be happy to, like, point people in the right direction if I can, or point you to Rich, I think he’s doing an amazing job, and I think he’s gonna be at the forefront of the AR experiences for brands and using them as ads.
Scott (47:54 – 48:17) – Okay, perfect. We’ll put some links in the show notes where they can go and educate themselves or reach out to some people, but thank you so much! This has been a really, really insightful call! I’ve learned a ton. I’m feeling pretty excited about the whole thing now and something for us to dive and get lost into. For anyone who does wanna reach out to you, where can they find you and shoot you any questions they might have?
Casie (48:17 – 48:43) – Yeah, I prefer LinkedIn. That’s my stomping ground. LinkedIn, you can just look me up – Casie Lane Millhouse. I’m on Instagram. I usually, I don’t post or anything like that, but that’s where I like to communicate with a lot of people. Facebook, I do keep it quite private to friends, family, and other marketers so you’re not gonna hit me.
Scott (48:45 – 48:47) – Gotta have your boundaries, gotta have your boundaries.
Casie (48:47 – 49:01) – Yeah, on Instagram, I’m @casie__lane, it’s pretty easy to find me. Yeah, those are my 2 preferred places to start a random chat with somebody, especially if you wanna talk about AR.
Scott (49:02 – 49:14) – Perfect. Appreciate your time so much. This has been really, really insightful. Great to get a little bit of a glimpse into the future and what’s coming in eCom. It’s gonna be an interesting 5 years to watch what happens. Thank you!
Casie (49:15 – 49:16) – Thank you, Scott!
Scott (49:17 – 49:19) – My pleasure!
49:20 – 50:10 – Episode outro
Scott (49:20 – 50:10) – Thanks again for tuning to this episode of the Growth & Greatness eCommerce Podcast. I hope you got a ton of value out of this episode and if you did, we’d love for you to leave us a review on your platform of choice and help us reach as many people as we can. Now, if you’re a brand founder, an eCommerce entrepreneur, or an in-house marketing manager looking to accelerate your growth this year, reach out to us at Right Hook Digital. We’re a performance branding agency and we specialize in partnering with eCommerce brands to help them hit their growth goals with maximum ROI. Now, if this sounds like a solution that you need, then check us out at righthookdigital.com and schedule a call with our client partnerships team. They’d love to have a chat with you and see how we can help you grow in 2021.