Facebook’s Announcement of Enhanced 3D Posts Opens the Door for Advertisers

[This article was originally posted on Virtual Reality Pop on February 27, 2018]

Facebook recently announced that users can upload 3D content to their posts, alongside text, photos, and videos, by using the industry-standard glTF 2.0 file format.

Advertisers use Facebook 3D Posts to share fun, interactive branded content

It’s no surprise that with the announcement came fun examples of branded 3D content from brands such as Jurassic World, Clash Royale, and LEGO. With branded characters (play with Blue from Jurassic World) or product features (“thumb around” a furniture set from Wayfair), 3D objects open the door for advertisers to engage with their customers in a playful and engagement-increasing way.

Inside Facebook’s 3D Post Announcement

Users can now interact with 3D objects that pop up in posts on their News Feed by clicking and dragging the models, contributing an element of play to the News Feed experience. Users can even upload their own 3D posts or share 3D objects with a simple click. Add AR to the list, too: users can take any 3D model and place in their environment using their back-facing camera.

Facebook actually introduced 3D Posts last October, but this week’s announcement focuses on widening the number of creators who can now contribute higher quality 3D models, thanks to Facebook’s adoption of the file format.

This is good news for advertisers gunning for new sticky content formats. It means more, higher quality 3D content and more engaged users interacting with and sharing immersive content.

The immersive content wave just got bigger

We’ve seen content progress over time from text to photo to video. With the introduction of 3D models and VR/AR content on the horizon, the next wave of content is immersive: interactive 3D formats at scale with the real world, encouraging users to actively engage with content.

Facebook is keenly aware of this content progression and is bullish on immersive experiences, stating “[i]n the future, we envision a seamless digital world where people can share immersive experiences and objects like these across VR, AR and Facebook News Feed. To get there, we’ll work on supporting even higher quality 3D models, enabling interactive animations and bringing 3D content into the real world using AR.”

Part of Facebook’s 3D content strategy is to encourage its users to adopt and champion ‘immersion’ as it begins 2018 with a renewed focus on Virtual and Augmented Reality. In fact, its 3D Post announcement came just a few days before Facebook’s big F8 teaser that it would be sharing its “biggest VR/AR news to date.”

Advertisers can ride the wave…and make ripples

For advertisers, 3D Posts represent an opportunity to solve a critical problem: overcoming banner blindness and increasing and deepening brand engagement. Users have become too acclimated to flat ads, turning a blind eye to the cluttered noise seen in display ad spaces today. As content formats undergo innovation through emerging technologies like 360°/3D/VR/AR, brands have a chance to re-engage their customers with new ad formats.

Top brands, like LEGO and Clash Royale are taking a bet on immersive content with their Facebook 3D posts. Others too, like Coach, are experimenting in the space, by creating 360° videos that encourage users to move their phone around for a mobile-based experience or use a VR headset to elect for a fully immersive experience. And as the market becomes more and more excited about AR, advertisers are working to figure out how to bring AR objects into a branded experience (whether through filters/selfies, native AR apps, or distributed AR ad experiences across mobile).