Target Tracking on Instagram: Blending AR with Reality

10 days ago Spark AR Team made Target Tracking (aka Image Tracking) available to Instagram. This feature allows AR effects to be triggered by pointing the camera at a certain image, eg. a logo, product packaging or a movie poster. In this article, you’ll find some of the first Instagram AR effects using this functionality as well as tips on how to use them effectively during a promotional campaign.


Why target tracking is such a big deal?

Augmented Reality is all about mixing what’s real with what we’ve created, and the target tracking blends the effects of our imagination together with certain objects around. Thus, it is crucial to be able to implement this feature into AR effects to make the experience more convincing. It gives community creators an opportunity to play with art and real-world assets. Brands, on the other hand, can design digital campaigns that aim at interacting with their promotional materials. Not only does it make an AR effect exclusive for the owners of the product, but it can also bring to life a formerly static brand hero or a scene printed on the packaging. Target tracking can be also used to increase brand awareness and herald brand clarity by displaying additional info on the product.


Matisse Deconstruct by Pablo Tajer

Pablo Tajer created this Instagram Effect that enhances Henri Matisse’s piece placed at Tate Modern in London using target tracking. If you’d like to try it yourself, the button below is not enough though – you’ll need to find (or google) the painting to trigger the effect! That’s definitely the most impressive use of target tracking together with art so far.

Try it yourself

Target tracking tips

To successfully bring the immersive experience of target tracking to the users, you have to remember a few things:

💡 Choose a good image to use it as a tracker

There are images that make a good tracker and there are those which don’t. You can find the manual on how to implement target tracking successfully here: Best Practices for Target Tracking in Spark AR Studio. There are two things that you must remember, though: to check those rules before talking to the client and to try the exact image your client wants you to use as a tracker before accepting the project. This will let you avoid unpleasant surprises.

💡 Use your product as a tracker

A can of soda, a box of cereal, an entrance card to the event… the possibilities are endless. Starbucks newest Instagram effects, for example, are triggered by their special Christmas cups. Each cup unlocks different Christmassy animation (read more here). Chipicao just started a campaign where it uses tokens found in croissant’s packs as trackers unlocking Justice League themed AR effects. During each of the next five weeks, another superhero’s mask will become available, starting with the Joker.

💡 Help users find the tracker easily

Users should know what they have to do and what they’re looking for, so don’t forget to add appropriate instructions. There is also one very useful trick: place a translucent image or an outline of the tracker on the screen, like in the video below. It is the perfect way to make the tracker’s feature comprehensible and easy to use.

ustwo welcome mural

💡 QR codes: an alternative or a complementary feature?

It is possible to use QR codes to open AR effects on Instagram and Facebook. It may seem like a similar function to target tracking, but in reality, those are two fundamentally different things. A QR code cannot be scanned by Facebook or Instagram camera and it opens an AR effect as it would do with any other link. Target tracking works ‘inside’ the effect. Once you’ve opened the AR effect you can scan the tracker to trigger an action. So, potentially, you could use both QR code and target tracking as a part of a single project. QR codes are used to access the effect itself, and target tracking triggers certain interactions within the lens.

Coca-Cola Game

Target tracking works very well on Instagram, so there is no reason not to try it. It is capable of bringing fun and immersive experience to the users by breaking the borders of imagination and reality. Contact us so we can help you come up with the perfect idea for your brand!

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