Skip to content
Learn With Us > AdLibbing Articles > Creativity & Innovation

From Awareness to Action: Leveraging WebAR for Social Impact

As the vice president of emerging media and technology at the Ad Council, I’m always exploring new and emerging technologies that can help drive impact across our many social cause campaigns. I was eager to explore web-based augmented reality (WebAR) as a way to reach people with our messages and after months of building, we just launched our first WebAR partnership with our long time partners at Feeding America. For those of you unfamiliar with this technology, WebAR enables users to interact with digital graphics superimposed onto their real world environment through a web browser, without the need for a dedicated app. The user gets to this experience through scanning a QR code or tapping through to a website. This accessibility makes WebAR a powerful tool for marketers, enabling a broad audience to seamlessly access the experience across various devices. The immersive nature and gamification of a WebAR experience can boost engagement, making complex messages more resonating and impactful.

The Ad Council’s recent WebAR activation with Feeding America highlights this technology's potential to deeply engage with audiences while also raising awareness on a critical issue like hunger. My hope is that our exploration will serve as a valuable resource for nonprofits and marketers that are interested in leveraging WebAR to boost brand awareness and engagement.

Overview of the WebAR experience. User scans QR code and enables camera to see a fridge appear in AR viewable through their phone in their environment. User taps different items in the fridge to reveal real stories or facts about hunger.

Why WebAR
According to the latest data from the USDA, over 44 million people in America, including 13 million children, live in food insecure households. This stark reality underscores the urgent need to address hunger in the United States. The Ad Council, in partnership with our innovative sponsors at Feeding America, were eager to harness the power of WebAR technology to present these key statistics, and the human stories behind them, in an immersive and gamified way. Our hope is that this WebAR activation will enable us to reach new audiences with our message and deeper engage our existing audiences that are more apt to use augmented reality.

Partner with Experts
Success in any WebAR campaign begins with the right partners. For our hunger awareness initiative, we collaborated with Niantic 8th Wall, the leading WebAR technology platform, who generously donated the technology, and Sawhorse Productions, an experienced creative technology agency who developed the creative concept, and produced both the WebAR experience and a promotional video asset, effectively bringing our “Full Effect” marketing campaign to life in an immersive way. We also knew it was important to have custom creative run in different media channels to effectively drive people to the WebAR experience. We partnered with Flowcode, a leader in QR code marketing, to develop a branded Feeding America QR code and custom creative assets, ensuring people that saw our ads would know exactly what to do to open the AR experience.

Digital Display Creative (300x250) produced by Flowcode that reflects our current campaign and the custom QR code 

Build an Educational Experience with Gamified Elements
The core of any WebAR initiative should be its dual capacity to educate and engage. “Full Effect” shows that food nourishes more than just our bodies–it also nourishes our futures. Sawhorse Productions brought that concept to life in our WebAR creative strategy, with a fridge appearing viewable through the user’s phone in their environment. The user is prompted to open the fridge and as they tap different items in the fridge, real stories or facts about hunger are revealed. We were also intentional in ensuring the initial interaction and introduction to the WebAR experience was designed to resonate emotionally and deepen people’s connection to the cause, motivating users to enable their camera and continue the experience. Our WebAR activation incorporated elements of gamification to make learning about food insecurity interactive and memorable, while also ensuring the experience was grounded in real-world data and stories.

Define Success with KPIs and Metrics
Identifying key performance indicators (KPIs) such as click-through rates and engagement (dwell) times upfront is crucial. As this was our first WebAR activation, we leaned on the expertise of several media agency partners to understand what we should expect. Flowcode plays a pivotal role here as well, as their platform provides us with enterprise-level analytics that enable precise measurements of ad efficacy across all media placements.

Develop a Strong Promotional Strategy
Developing a strong promotional strategy is key to the success of any WebAR activation. First, you need to ensure you have a promotional asset to showcase the WebAR experience in the press release and any earned or social media opportunities. Our partners at Sawhorse produced this :30 video trailer video for these purposes. Next, you need a solid media plan with strategic placements that ensure visibility and engagement. In the case of WebAR, it is important that your creative reaches a captive audience that has the ability to scan a QR code or seamlessly tap into the mobile AR experience. For our effort, we secured targeted environments like out-of-home with adFUZE and Intersection, rideshare advertising with Uber and digital platforms including Dailymotion, Google, YouTube, Reddit and the Weather Channel. This media strategy ensured that our campaign reached captive audiences effectively across various touchpoints. For extended reach, we tapped business leaders in the AR/XR space to post about the activation on their LinkedIn profiles and our partners at 8thWall wrote a blog post. Lastly, it’s important that you create a desktop landing page for digital display media that will be viewed on a desktop. Because WebAR is experienced via mobile smartphones, you don’t want to drive desktop media to a mobile experience. See here and below for the desktop version of our site that was produced by our partners at Sawhorse.

Desktop landing page custom built by Sawhorse Productions

Embrace Innovation and Learning
Finally, it’s important to embrace the experimental nature of using new technologies like WebAR. We look at each emerging media and technology activation as a pilot and learning opportunity. Success often comes from adapting and evolving strategies in real-time based on feedback from stakeholders and user interactions. There will be challenges, but as long as you have the spirit of innovation and learning, you can work through almost every obstacle.

WebAR offers a dynamic solution for nonprofits and marketers looking to reach their audiences in a new and innovative way. By following these guidelines, your organization can not only enhance audience engagement but drive significant awareness of your cause. I hope you’ll continue to explore the possibilities of emerging media and harness these tools to create meaningful and lasting change.


Want to stay up to date on industry news, insights, and all our latest work? Subscribe to our email newsletters!