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TikTok’s Shant Oknayan on the New AR Branded Effects

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TikTok’s Shant Oknayan on the New AR Branded Effects

TikTok recently unveiled its new augmented reality (AR) Branded Effects solutions for brands. On this occasion, Communicate had a chat with Shant Oknayan, General Manager of Global Business Solutions across the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey (MENAT) at TikTok.

How long has TikTok been working on the AR Branded Effects?

We rolled out our TikTok Branded Effects offering in the region in September. We wanted brands in [MENA] to unleash their creativity and drive greater engagement with their customers with this new offering on our platform.

Over the last year, we have seen a huge rise in the adoption of technologies like augmented reality (AR). Digital spaces are becoming increasingly more important channels for brands to get close with their customers and as a result, users are now demanding better and more engaging, long-lasting experiences from brands. Technologies such as AR can make that happen.

How important is this new technology for brands?

Today, we live in a world that is online. The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital transformation for brands in order to better cater to and reach their audiences. But that has come at a price: consumers are now inundated with content and are feeling overwhelmed as they are bombarded with increasing volumes of information on a daily basis. So, it is now more important than ever for brands to cut through the ‘infodemic’ and ensure that their audience is engaged and up to date with the most relevant information for them.

Technologies such as Branded Effects are an integral part to a brand’s digital strategy, improving the quality of the content and reach.

What exactly are the possible uses of AR for brands on TikTok?

Traditionally, users have used AR on a one-on-one basis through private messaging. TikTok is further enabling brands by making their Branded Effects available to the wider community for everyone to discover and join the conversation. This creates further opportunities for brands as users have the ability to see, discover, and engage with specific Branded Effects, bringing them into the conversation and in turn making them ambassadors for your brand.

It is important to note that although the usage of a Branded Effect is limited to a campaign’s duration, the content created using Branded Effects remains on the platform to be discovered for as long as the user chooses to keep their TikTok’s up and running.

We are already working with many brands across verticals in the region, that are seeing great results, both in terms of user engagement and content creativity, thanks to our Branded Effects.

What are the AR commercial solutions available as part of TikTok For Business?

Our recently-launched Branded Effects joins our family of consumer AR solutions, equipping brands from creative yet simple effects to more complex, realistic 3D AR that can be activated through different movements and gestures. These can also be incorporated in our Hashtag Challenges to encourage participation and increase awareness, leading to bigger impact for brands.

We are constantly working on innovating our AR offering, and we are in the process of launching new capabilities with the Branded Effects that further drives user interaction and engagement for more unique and fun content.

What should brands pay attention to when using this tech?

TikTok’s Branded Effects offering is simple and arms brands with the tools needed to get their content to thousands of people around the world, opening more doors for those eager to tap into an infinite world of immense creativity.

A few pointers on how to make the most of Branded Effects in your campaigns: keep it simple and engaging for users with a clear call to action. The aim is to get your target audience to participate in your campaign and tell your story to others. Also, it is important that the brand’s presence in the Branded Effect is as organic and authentic as possible. Build the effect with the brand at the core rather than it being an afterthought.

Another crucial element is sound. To make the most out of TikTok, you must provide users with a ‘sound on’ experience in order to create highly shareable campaigns.

AR has long been associated with Snapchat. Facebook later incorporated it. How will TikTok differentiate itself?

While we are always trying to enhance our offering and supercharge our user experience for brands, it is worth noting that AR effects, in general, are not new. However, TikTok’s approach to Branded Effects is different because of our technology, community, and of course the TikTok format.

What is unique about TikTok Branded Effects is that it has over 30 unique triggers and facial gesture controls. The face, eye, and hand movement offer greater tracking capabilities that make the Branded Effects more engaging for users. Last but not least, sound – as a ‘sound on’ platform, plays an important role in the experience and it is core to our Branded Effects.

As previously mentioned, TikTok Branded Effects are very much a one-to-many and not a one-on-one conversation, meaning that they can be rolled out and used in our wider community, driving further engagement and reach for brands.

What other new video technologies do you believe will play a transformational role in branding in the near future?

With huge potential to boost engagement and brand visibility, video has become the most powerful brand marketing tool. Technologies such as AR, VR, live-streaming and the like will play a key role for brands in the future, providing more intriguing and immersive ways for consumers to get involved in creating even better video content.

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