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How to Choose Between an AR Builder, AR Agency, and Camera IQ

April 27, 2022 • Written by Catherine Kulke

How to Choose Between an AR Builder, AR Agency, and Camera IQ

AR marketing is having more than a moment. As more brands leverage social AR to amplify audience engagement and co-create with consumers at scale, the medium is quickly establishing itself as the future of digital storytelling. Marketers’ mounting interest in the technology is no accident: our research shows that social AR experiences garner, on average, 30x the engagement of traditional photo and video content, and 41% of consumers would be more likely to share an AR effect with their social networks than a brand’s post. 

It’s clear that brands are at an advantage by embracing social AR. But if you’re new to the technology, chances are you have some questions about how to get started. Because AR effects don’t design themselves, brands typically use one of three solutions to create AR experiences for social media: an AR builder, an AR agency, or Camera IQ. Which option will work best for your team depends on a number of factors, including your internal resources, your budget, and your objectives. In this post, we’ll walk through the pros and cons of each choice so that you can confidently determine the right AR marketing tools for your brand.

AR builder icon on a smartphone.

Working With an AR Builder

What is An AR Builder?

Many social media platforms have developed AR creation studios that brands can use to design and publish platform-specific AR effects. The most popular AR builders are Facebook’s Spark AR, which allows brands to create and launch effects to Facebook and Instagram, and Snap’s LensStudio, which supports Snapchat. TikTok also recently made headlines by unveiling Effect House, an AR builder uniquely suited to the short-form video app.

What Are the Pros and Cons of AR Builders?

AR builders allow brands to create complex, elaborate AR effects affordably, using a company’s in-house design resources. These self-serve tools are ideal for brands with teams of highly experienced designers, who want end-to-end control over AR campaign creation and execution. However, AR builders are advanced programs, which can be time-consuming to learn and challenging to master, particularly for designers with no previous experience in AR. 

Additionally, one major drawback of using AR builders is that they only enable brands to publish effects to the specific social platforms they were developed by, making it difficult to cross-promote experiences. To publish the same effect to Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok, for example, a brand would have to create three different versions: one in Spark AR, one in Lens Studio, and one in Effect House—tripling the required design resources.

AR agency icon on a smartphone.

Working With an AR Agency

What Is an AR Agency?

AR agencies are creative agencies that specialize in AR campaigns. Like PR or advertising agencies, AR agencies will typically work with your brand to plan and execute campaigns from start to finish, including developing ideas, creating content (in this case, AR effects), and building a promotional strategy.

What Are the Pros and Cons of AR Agencies?

AR agencies are ideal for brands who do not have the resources or experience to manage AR campaigns in-house, and want to fully outsource their social AR strategy. When working with an AR agency, teams do not need to learn a new software or skill set, or devote time to effect creation. Because agencies have significant experience with AR marketing, brands can also rely on their expertise to launch effects that meet their business objectives. Many agencies will even conduct regular performance reviews to evaluate AR campaigns’ success. 

However, working with an AR agency is significantly more expensive than using a self-serve tool. Depending on a campaign’s complexity, agencies may charge tens of thousands of dollars for a single effect, and fees typically increase with the number of effects brands look to create. That means that, to maintain an always-on AR strategy—our recommendation at Camera IQ—brands should be prepared to shell out a substantial portion of their marketing budgets. Finally, as with outsourcing any project, marketers that outsource AR campaigns surrender a level of control over a campaign’s content and schedule, and must take care to ensure that agencies have a thorough understanding of their brand’s identity and messaging.

Camera IQ logo on a smartphone.

Working With Camera IQ

What Is Camera IQ? 

Camera IQ is a SaaS company that provides AR creation software along with support from a dedicated account strategist. Brands can use Camera IQ to create rich AR experiences quickly and easily for all their priority social channels in just a few clicks. Camera IQ partners also gain access to exclusive insights and analytics on effect performance, creative coaching, and strategic guidance.

You can view AR experiences created by some of our clients, including Cartoon Network, Away, and Nestle, here

What Are the Pros and Cons of Camera IQ?

Camera IQ offers the flexibility and creative autonomy of an AR builder with the hands-on support and strategic expertise of an AR agency—at a fraction of the price. Unlike other AR creation tools, Camera IQ is developed for ease of use and accessibility, so you don’t need any technical experience or a specialized team of designers to build polished effects. Your existing design, creative, or marketing team can quickly familiarize themselves with the Camera IQ platform, and use templates or a library of assets to get started. This gives your team full control over building experiences, so you don’t have to worry about managing an external resource or freelancer. 

Additionally, because Camera IQ allows brands to launch a single effect to multiple social channels, you can scale a cross-platform strategy without repeating work. Finally, Camera IQ’s account strategists are deeply invested in our partners’ success, and will work with you to plan, build, promote, and evaluate the performance of your AR campaigns.

Using Camera IQ does entail investing in software, and it’s important to be aware that Camera IQ is built for long-term use. That means that, before you partner with Camera IQ, you’re fully committed to making AR part of your marketing strategy.

Which AR Solution is Right for Your Brand?

In summary, whether you’re best served by working with an AR builder, AR agency, or Camera IQ comes down to three main factors. First, how much time and effort are you planning to put into effect creation? Second, how much money are you willing to spend for an end-to-end solution? And third, and how much strategic support will you benefit from?

If your goal is to create elaborate, time-intensive experiences and you have a self-sufficient design team, choose an AR builder. If you’re looking to fully outsource your social AR campaigns and you have a sizable budget to spend on it, choose an AR agency. And if you’re looking to establish an always-running AR strategy with an easy-to-use tool and end-to-end strategic guidance, choose Camera IQ. 

But if you believe that social AR will soon be the new mainstream medium for digital marketing, and your brand will have to scale releases over time, Camera IQ is your best—if not only—option to set up your organization for success.

To request a demo of the easiest AR creation tool, use the form below. 

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