AR Marketing Platform Raises $5 Million in Series A Round

Augmented reality is finding increased consumer adoption amid the coronavirus pandemic and Camera IQ is making the most of it.

The Los Angeles-based start-up, founded in 2016 offering a platform for marketers to make AR campaigns, just raised $5 million in a Series A round of funding led by Shasta Ventures. Shasta is an early stage venture capital firm best known for its early investment in Nest Labs, the home tech company later bought by Google.

As for Camera IQ, the company said it has experienced a “record number” of consumers engaging with AR campaigns and tools it’s built for companies during the pandemic. The start-up has done campaigns for beauty brands like MAC, Smashbox, Wet ‘n’ Wild and the new LoveSeen, along with media companies such as Bravo, Bumble, Discovery, Paramount and Amazon Prime Video and a range of others. It has also worked with Coach and FabFitFun. In this context, AR essentially means camera filters that allow users to see themselves in a modified way.

It works in partnership with social platforms moving more and more into AR offerings such as Snap, Facebook, TikTok and Zoom. Camera IQ said such marketing efforts are becoming increasingly popular and sharing of them grew 43 percent on Instagram and 23 percent on Facebook during the second quarter, according to internal research. Usage of Snap Camera has grown 33 times since the start of the pandemic in the West earlier this year.

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“With the Camera and AR playing essential roles in our daily lives now, AR is the strongest format for driving consumer engagement and making business goals a reality,” said Camera IQ cofounder Allison Ferenci.

She added that AR campaigns allow brands and companies “to have more interactive, engaging targeted connections with customers.”

Earlier this year, Snap said 75 percent of its roughly 230 million daily active users engage with AR every day.

With the new cash infusion, the company intends to expand its sales and marketing efforts, along with more product development to the technology.

For beauty brands in particular, Camera IQ is creating “try on” campaigns that allow people to experience a product in a virtual way without being in-store.

“For beauty brands building e-commerce businesses, AR and virtual try-on are essential to providing the user experience to incentivize purchases,” said Elaine Chen, Wet ‘n’ Wild’s vice president of brand marketing.

The brand recently used Camera IQ to launch a Sanrio collaboration that Chen said largely sold out online. An AR campaign allowed people to see themselves as two Sanrio characters while wearing the promoted products, with one experience seeing 47 percent of shoppers engage with it and the other 63 percent.

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