Instagram Camera Effects: A Lens Into The Future

You’ve seen it inundate your Instagram Stories: Which Disney Character Are You? What Pokémon Are You? What’s Your Hogwarts House? Which Avatar Character Are You? The viral phenomenon represents the increasing popularity of Instagram’s equivalent to the Snapchat Lens, referred to as “Camera Effects.” From facial enhancements, to interactive quizzes, to imposing an avocado on the user’s head, designers are using Facebook’s Spark AR Studio to make a Camera Effect for almost anything.

A Lens into the Landscape

Instagram’s Camera Effects leverage augmented reality (AR) to enhance user content, allowing users to digitally alter and transform their faces and/or environments. Facebook’s work to increase AR capabilities across its platforms serves as a means to increase overall app usage and engagement, as well as compete with rival Snapchat, who has made AR filters and effects central to its platform through in-app experiences like lenses, games, shopping experiences, and portals. Facebook has noticed the immense potential of lenses, particularly after Snapchat’s ‘Gender Swap’ face filter went viral in May 2019. Snapchat’s weekly install rates jumped dramatically after the lens’ release.

Snapchat installs after baby lens release

Despite the relatively recent introduction of Camera Effects, Facebook’s efforts have already resulted in over 1 billion effect uses across Facebook and Instagram.

A Lens into Logistics

Initially, Camera Effects were exclusive to select Instagram influencers like Ariana Grande—the first musician to release an exclusive effect for her song “No Tears Left to Cry”—before opening up to additional beta testers. In 2019, Camera Effects left beta and opened up to brands, with heavy-hitters like Gucci Beauty, Adidas Originals, Pepsi, and Kylie Cosmetics quickly getting in on the action.

ariana grande uses instagram camera effects and augment reality features for No Tears Left to Cry.
Ariana Grande for “No Tears Left to Cry”
Gucci uses instagram camera effects and augment reality features for Gucci Beauty.
Gucci for Gucci Beauty
Kylie Jenner uses instagram camera effects and augment reality features for Kylie Cosmetics.
Kylie Jenner for Kylie Cosmetics

There are multiple ways users can access and discover these AR effects:

  1. Follower Activity – Effects can be accessed via stories posted by accounts they follow.
  2. Effect Gallery – Users can discover effects organized by category through the Effect Gallery icon when creating a story.
  3. Instagram Profiles – Effects can be accessed from the face icon on Instagram Profiles that have effects uploaded.

Paid promotional opportunities involving effects are still in the early days. Facebook recently took AR Ads out of beta, but they are limited to the Facebook platform. Facebook lacks a promoted effect ad format on Instagram, a major weakness relative to rival Snapchat, who recently opened up their AR Lens ads offering to auction-based campaigns at no budget minimum.

Gupta Media has helped promote and create filters, lenses and effects across Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat for a variety of clients. Below, you can test out a real example we created for Sony US Latin. If you’re interested in learning more about our design services, then please reach out to us using the “Get a Quote for Camera Effects, Lenses, Filters & More” button.

Gupta Media-produced Camera Effect for Emilia’s “No Soy Yo”

Test it out on Instagram

A Lens into the Future

We’ve only reached the tip of the iceberg when it comes to AR opportunities for brands. Early adopters are starting to explore the upgraded shopping experiences that Camera Effects can facilitate, such as the virtual try on functionality available through the Kylie Cosmetics Lip Kit effect. Overall, it’s clear Facebook is hedging its bets against Camera Effects as a means to “add new layers of meaning to the world,” and it looks like these effects are going to do just that … even if it means having to endure multiple Instagram Stories of your friends finding out the Disney character they most closely resemble is Dory.

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