Clearly launches AR-powered Facebook ad

From the Tech newsletter: A new try-on tool is the latest way the brand is helping customers reluctant to buy eyewear online.

clearlyARadAugmented reality is a popular tool for brands looking to drive online purchases in what have typically been “try before you buy” categories, and online eyewear brand Clearly is expanding the reach of one of those tools by turning it into an ad in a Facebook user’s News Feed.

Working directly with Facebook on development, users who are targeted by the ad simply tap the image to launch the virtual try-on experience, which drives users to a product page on Clearly’s website.

Facebook announced shopable, AR-powered ads with virtual try-on features last year, but Clearly says it is the first to use the format in Canada since the social media giant moved the format out of pilot and into open beta earlier this fall.

Though it has expanded into physical retail in recent years, having two stores in Vancouver and one in Toronto means the majority of Clearly’s customers still interact with the brand online.

Arnaud Bussieres, Clearly’s CEO, says a major customer challenge has always been overcoming consumer hesitancy to buy glasses online that they haven’t tried on in person, but trying them on virtually can help overcome that. Earlier this year, the ongoing improvement and accuracy of AR allowed the company to add virtual try-on features to its website, which had previously attempt to overcome the hurdle with features like filtering results based on other frames that have fit a consumer in the past.

Turning the AR tool into an ad also helps reach users who may not have known it was option, or drive trial by serving it directly in Facebook’s mobile app and saving users a tap to access it.

Earlier this year, Warby Parker – a major Clearly competitor in the online eyewear space – launched its own virtual try-on features earlier this year through its mobile app, as did North, a Canadian company that had previously only allowed purchasing in-person due to the importance of accurate fitting for its smart glasses.