Camera Marketing: The elephant in the room waiting to be seen?

Despite the wide possibilities it offers, camera marketing is just 5-7% of digital spends in India yet. However, it is poised for a spectacular growth in the meta world, the industry opines

e4m by Mansi Sharma
Updated: Dec 2, 2021 2:25 PM
camera marketing

Mobile phones are getting cheap, data cheaper, and social media is making people quite savvy about the use of gadgets. Social media has empowered people to explore the world through the screen and the handy camera functions with endless filters allow them to virtually experience stuff that they otherwise would not be able to. No one is unknown to the fabulous growth it has created for the world of digital and social media marketing, and now with AI and VR functions getting simplified for common use, camera marketing is another behemoth that is constantly on the rise. 

Camera marketing, simply referring to the use of AI and VR tools via use of camera lenses and other such technologies for giving users a life-like experience virtually, is going to be one of the most promising tool in a marketer’s kit in the coming years, however, brands in India have just started scratching the surface, as per industry insiders. 

Beginning of a new trend

WATConsult Managing Partner Sahil Shah notes, “If you look at the typical adoption of AR in India, then it’s high amongst consumers. Platforms like Snapchat & Instagram introduced it and Facebook, TikTok and now their Indian counterparts scaled it up. From a size POV, if one considers the creation, adoption and reach of AR, then I think, it will be worth 5-7% of digital spends in India.” 

Kofluence Founder Ritesh Ujjwal adds, “From online virtual search options and image-recognition tools to branded filters, we have only just started to scratch the surface when it comes to the ways in which cameras are being leveraged in the Indian digital marketing landscape. Take for example, how online retailers across jewellery/ fashion/apparels among others let their end-users 'try before you buy'. One of the most popular forms of camera marketing is the use of augmented reality, an engaging approach where the brand is a participant in the “conversation” rather than a company delivering a message.” 

The future for camera marketing certainly looks bright as the AI and VR industry propels towards stellar growth in coming years. As per Reportlinker, the India Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Market stood at USD1.83 billion in 2020 and is forecasted to grow at a CAGR north of 35% until mid of this decade. 

Logicserve Digital Sr VP - Creative, Social, PR, Marcom Manesh Swamy shares, “I feel it’s at a nascent stage at the moment, but the future definitely looks bright. Thanks to Snapchat and Instagram, lenses and filters are a part of the daily interaction on social platforms. So if your campaign shows an influencer using an interactive branded filter and urges his/her followers to use it and create content, you will still get traction as the learning curve is taken care of over a period of time and users are not naive to this part of the tech anymore.” 

Ample platforms but limited creativity

Social media apps like Instagram, Snapchat, Chingari, MX Takatak, Moj, Sharechat, etc are amongst the top catalysts for the growth of camera marketing in India, along with several brands who are trying these features to give customers a more immersive experience.  

Ujjwal corroborates, “Google lens with its search optimization, IKEA Place for its virtual visualisation, Snapchat with its AR overlays, and Lenskart with its experiential retail functionalities are some of the most popular use cases being used by respective brands via camera integration in their user experience. Among the apps, we’ve Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok (not in India) as well as folks who’re building out of India including Moj (leveraging Snap’s Camera Kit), Chingari among others, which have massive appeal among audiences. It will be difficult to provide a detailed breakup as the market is still pretty fragmented with these platforms all belonging to different industries, serving their own specific use cases.” 

Swamy feels though Snapchat was the pioneer in introducing camera marketing in India, Instagram is currently leading the pack. 

As of October 2021, India was reportedly the leading country based on Instagram audience size with more than 201 million users accessing the photo and video sharing and editing app.

But the brands are still limiting the use of camera marketing to basic usage only, the industry opines. Though they are constantly progressing in making use cases more elaborate and experimental. 

Sahil Shah quips, “Camera marketing has huge growth potential in India and across the world. Currently, only AR is being used but VR & MR are a little far. Also, hardware as well as technology needs to keep evolving. And with 5G technology and better internet speed, the adoption will be much better.” 

He adds, “I think brands have multiple ways of aiding the funnel through camera-led marketing. Right from TOFU, which for e.g. most IPL teams use to spread awareness about their campaign every year, to a makeup brand that can literally get a prospect to apply makeup virtually to then lead to purchase online/offline basis the experience. And it’s not just limited to AR. Brands are firming up plans for VR through in-game marketing as well as immersive online-offline experiences and enabling more and more ways to interact with consumers. Though slow, it's moving in that direction.” 

Swamy, albeit, is impressed by the attempts made by the industry thus far. “You see big brands in the FMCG, fashion, automotive segments creating unique experiences for the fans. It is good to see categories like BFSI also jumping into this side of the marketing and creating relevant interactions for their customers. Although it still hasn’t seen its full potential yet it is poised very well to grow. As you see a big push from Meta on the virtual experience globally, it will not be like this fancy alien tech anymore and soon it will be an important part of every marketing calendar. In terms of efforts, I think a few big engagements/campaigns for the masses will help put it on the map.” 

Ujjwal feels that brands should be taking a more holistic approach to camera marketing, “Brands that are using AR/VR models successfully understand that it needs to provide customer delight, and not just be a one-off gimmick. So I believe that letting go of the novelty factor, Indian brands need to start consistently embedding camera marketing into their digital marketing strategy with a 360-degree approach. They have to think beyond branding to experiential marketing, and driving engagement over vitality.” 

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