Makeup tutorials and reviews are some of the most popular content on YouTube, as they help people learn about new products as well as how to apply them. YouTube is now kicking that experience up a notch with the introduction of a new AR feature for virtual makeup try-on right from the YouTube app. Called AR Beauty Try-On, the feature is designed to be used in a split screen experience while YouTube viewers watch the makeup tutorial.
When available, the YouTube makeup review or tutorial video plays at the top of the screen, with a stream from your own front-facing camera below. Here, a YouTube viewer could access a palate of colors — like new lipstick shades, for example — and tap to apply them to their own face while the video plays above.
The feature is currently in the very early stages of development — alpha testing — and is being offered to YouTube creators through Google’s in-house branded content program, FameBit. Through this program, brands are connected with YouTube influencers who market their products through paid sponsorships.
YouTube says it already tested AR Beauty Try-On with several beauty brands, and found that 30% of viewers chose to activate the experience when it was available in the YouTube iOS app. While that’s not a majority by any means, those who did try the feature were fairly engaged, spending over 80 seconds trying on the virtual lipstick shades.
M·A·C Cosmetics is the first brand to launch an AR Beauty Try-On campaign, which includes the ability for the brand to see real-time results from the try-on activity.
AR Beauty Try-On is the latest of several AR initiatives from Google, including also the recent launch of AR in Google Search and updates to its developer platform ARCore.
However, Google is not the first to offer a virtual makeup try-on experience. Beyond the fun makeup filters in various social networking apps, there are a number of AR beauty apps offering a similar experience to YouTube’s AR Beauty Try-On, including YouCam Makeup, Sephora’s Virtual Artist, Ultra’s GLAMLab, and others. L’Oreal also offers Live Try-On on its website, and partnered with Facebook last year to bring virtual makeup to the site. Target’s online Beauty Studio also offers virtual makeup across a number of brands and products.
The difference with YouTube’s AR Try-On is that it’s really more about offering an AR-powered ad campaign, not just a fun consumer product or a tool for on-site e-commerce conversions.
The AR ad format launch is one of several new ad products Google announced today.
The company is also introducing a new immersive display format called Swirl for the mobile web which lets consumers view products in a 360 format. Swirl allows for rotating a product, zooming in and out, or playing an animation.
The format is only available through Display and Video 360, says Google. Brands will be able to use a new editor on Google’s 3D platform Poly to create their Swirl display ads. If they already have 3D assets, they can build a Swirl ad using the 3D/Swirl component in Google Web Designer instead.
Perfume maker Guerlain is using Swirl for ads that animate to capture consumers’ attention.
Another new format in Display & Video 360 lets brands run their YouTube live stream content in display ads, which can also be built with Google Web Designer.
The new tools will be available to brands and advertisers this summer, Google says.