Niantic, an augmented reality (AR) gaming company, unveiled a new in-game ads product called Rewarded AR, according to a press release. With the new product, consumers playing titles from the company like Pokémon Go can engage with branded AR experiences that unlock in-game rewards. The experience is powered by Niantic’s AR development platform, 8th Wall. Niantic additionally partnered with development agencies to offer a fully-managed creative production process for brands. Early campaigns with the tools for brands like Circle K have reportedly seen success and arrive as interest in AR brand activations persists.The new Rewarded AR ad format sees Niantic doubling down on AR, backing the innovation’s potential with research forecasting that there will be 1.7 billion global mobile AR users by 2024, per Statista findings cited in the release. The product release was timed to this week’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, where the company is the official AR partner. The move arrives as interest from marketers in AR-fueled activations persist, with brands like Ikea, Shake Shack, and TripAdvisor among some of the latest to adopt the tech. Circle K was the first to pilot the new ads within Pokémon Go to promote its new coffee offering. For the effort, players of the game were presented with an ad, which looked like a floating balloon, that guided them to interact with a larger-than-life coffee cup and encouraged them to go to a physical location to try the coffee. The campaign saw an average engagement rate of 76% and an average completion rate of 95% for the experience. 

“Rewarded AR Integrates Circle K Into

this wildly popular gaming environment with timely and relevant offers that enhance brand awareness and loyalty, and we’ve been very pleased with the results so far,” said Margaret Barron, vice president of global marketing for Circle K, in press details. Niantic reports that users so far have preferred Rewarded AR ads, with around 80% of players indicating that the ad product is a good idea, per release details. The effort, which also arrives as mobile gaming continues to grow in popularity, is powered using 8th Wall, an AR platform that Niantic acquired last year in a move credited as its largest acquisition to date. And while Pokémon Go may not be as much of a phenomenon as it was a few years ago, the game still had approximately 79 million monthly players in June. However, the game’s revenue has been dropping, something the new ads could help address. The new Rewarded AR ads product will be available for use within the developer’s most popular real-world games, per release details, and is intended to boost brand impact, drive foot traffic in stores and assist with purchasing decisions through AR visualizations. While consumers play compatible games, branded interactive experiences provided through the ad units will appear and offer in-game rewards, potentially driving incentives. Other platforms are similarly prioritizing AR in hopes of attracting ad dollars, namely Snap, which even outlined the tech as one of its three strategic priorities amid a sluggish period for the business. The Snapchat owner has since struck partnerships with a number of brands including Disney, Amazon, and American Eagle.