To boost awareness for a new film, Focus Features ran augmented reality ads on Instagram and Facebook Feed, Stories and Reels and saw a 2.6-point lift in intent to see it on opening weekend.

Specialty film studio

Focus Features acquires and produces specialty films and holds a library of movies from myriad filmmakers. Its mission is to make a lasting impact on global audiences by enabling artists to share diverse, distinctive stories that inspire human connection. Focus Features is part of NBCUniversal.


lift in ad recall


lift in action intent (to see the film on opening weekend)


lift in reported action (did see the film on opening weekend)


incremental share of ticket purchases

We found that building immersive AR experiences motivated audiences to see Asteroid City during its launch weekend, as there was a direct correlation to higher action intent and reported action after people saw the AR ads. Plus, bringing AR experiences to launch events enabled us to maximize our engagement footprint and create a model we can replicate in the future.
Attracting movie fans

Focus Features wanted to raise awareness for its new film, drive audience interest and engagement, create positive buzz and, ultimately, increase ticket sales.

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Augmented reality ads with Reels

For the launch of Asteroid City, Focus Features wanted an innovative way to drive deep engagement among moviegoer audiences. So it was excited to run an augmented reality ad campaign in Instagram and Facebook Reels, Feed and Stories for the first time. Augmented reality ads had previously only been available for Feed and Stories, and Focus Features was one of the first clients to run augmented reality ads in the Reels placement.

Augmented reality ads have a unique ability to reach incremental audiences with an interactive participatory experience. Studios need the greatest number of people as possible to be aware of any new film, and because augmented reality ad creative is distinct from typical ad creative, the campaign had great impact.

The ads included scenes from the film along with the message: “Immerse yourself in the world of Asteroid City with the new AR experience!” and a Try in Camera call-to-action button that deep-linked to the Asteroid City AR effect in camera. Fans could then take a selfie and be transported virtually into scenes from the film and post them on their Facebook or Instagram profiles or share with friends.

Focus Feature’s agency, EssenceMediacom, helped with the initial concept and managed the campaign, and AR creator Isabelle Udo (founder of VideOrbit Studio) created the AR effects. The team showed the ads to US adults aged 18 and over, including those with an interest in American filmmakers, comedies and arthouse films.

Focus Features not only used the AR effects in the augmented reality ad format, but also in real-life activations such as the premiere, screening events and a monthlong popup takeover experience at Landmark’s Sunset Theatre via signage and early-screening art cards.

The team developed dynamic QR codes so that audience members could use the AR effects to virtually be in scenes from the film, and also used the ‘Scene’ effect at press junkets for talent promotion. They also invited creators plus the cast to interact with the effects via the QR codes as well.

Focus Features determined the results of the June 15–25, 2023 augmented reality ad campaign using a Meta brand lift study and a Meta conversion lift study, which revealed:

  • 9.3-point lift in ad recall (brand lift study)
  • 2.6-point lift in action intent to see the film on opening weekend (brand lift study)
  • 2.2-point lift in reported action (did see the film on opening weekend—brand lift study)
  • 5% incremental share of ticket purchases (conversion lift study)
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