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Beauty and Augmented Reality: Sparking Digital Trial via YouTube

18 Aug 2021 Jessica Ortiz

in Media, SEM

Augmented Reality (AR) is one of the most exciting developments for beauty ecommerce brands. In the new landscape, where ecommerce is vital and in-store product trial is tricky, AR enables brands to communicate with digital consumers in a richer, more engaging way. AR can tip consumers toward digital conversion, giving them greater purchase confidence. Usage is still in its infancy—10% of women who purchased cosmetics in the past year tried on makeup virtually1—but new “Try-On” ad capabilities from YouTube will quickly make AR more mainstream. Having launched one of the first 50 brands into YouTube’s new functionality, here is the information you need to know prior to launching AR for your beauty brand.


YouTube has a highly engaged beauty audience and is one of the top digital destinations that consumers use to find information about beauty: 66% of consumers find beauty information via YouTube2. Given its visual nature, YouTube is ideal for either highlighting existing AR capabilities on your website or relying on YouTube ads with virtual try-on extension as your entire AR experience for consumers. Having AR installed on your website is not required to run YouTube ads with virtual try-on extension.

Right now, YouTube Try-On ads are only available on mobile and only support eye and lip products, with a minimum of three shades and a maximum of 14 shades. This capability can only be leveraged within Video Action Campaigns (VAC) and TrueView In-Stream Campaigns.



Given the special nature of this ad type, a few additional assets are needed prior to setting up a strong campaign:  

  • Confirmation of product line and shade count
  • Confirmation of campaign type and launch date
  • Asset details like shade names, descriptions and corresponding unique product identifiers or GTINs
  • Hex Codes
  • In-real-life images - must include three skin tones (light, medium, and dark)



Set campaigns up for success by tailoring creative toward the AR feature. Influence AR engagement through a clear call to action encouraging Try-On within the first 10 seconds of the video, reinforcing that message by calling it out again toward the end. Leverage end and start cards with arrows pointing to the Try-On button. Both verbal and visual callouts are imperative. Keep creative product-focused and authentic, taking time to connect with the audience. Don’t make it look like a commercial; we recommend keeping creative between 15 to 60 seconds long.



All of the typical YouTube front-end metrics are available in the user interface, while the Google Ads team also provides AR-specific KPIs. The metrics I find most unique and valuable that can be delivered are:

  • The number of AR activations and the AR activation rate
  • The number of people who engaged with AR
  • The total number of shades tried on and the average number of shades tried per session
  • Average time spent engaging with trying on shades
  • Shop Clicks and CTR
  • The percentage of shop clicks / AR activations 



Our Stella team launched AR on YouTube for a beauty client to great success; where we saw: video completion rates were 73% stronger than the non-AR TrueView In-Stream benchmark. Though the process takes extra work and care, the YouTube AR experience can help beauty brands engage with digital consumers, spark brand awareness, and drive conversion. Connect with us to learn more about how we can help your brand take this exciting step into the beauty ecommerce future.



Source1: Mintel, “Color Cosmetics, U.S., 2021,” July 2021, eMarketer 2021.

Source2: Mintel, “Beauty Influencers, U.S.,” April 2021.

Media SEM