Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

AR offers significantly more immersion and engagement than traditional advertising, finds Snapchat commissioned neuroscience study

A new neuroscience study by Snapchat and strategic market research consultancy Alter Agents has found that AR offers significantly more immersion and engagement than traditional advertising. 

The study of consumers from across the world used smartwatch technology to measure their immersion. It found AR experiences command continuous high attention, compared to traditional advertising experiences which have peaks and valleys over time. The results have profound implications for advertisers in seeking to better understand how AR can be used to better engage consumers.

The in-depth neurological research study was commissioned by Snapchat to better access emotional engagement and attention to Augmented Reality. Participants in the study took part in virtual, individual research sessions. Participants watched content from home or out and about with engagement measured in the most natural environment.

The level of immersion was calculated by measuring variability in their heart rate using a smartwatch. Immersion’s neuroscience platform — the technology behind the methodology — makes it possible to map the distinct patterns in heart rate indicating a participant is engaged in an immersive state. That’s translated into the Immersion Index, which rates a person’s level of immersion on a scale from 0 to 100.

The key findings were:


Immersive experiences offer significant value. When people are highly immersed, they are paying attention, emotionally engaged, and actively committing information to memory. Immersion predicts consumer action and memory with 83% accuracy.*

 AR offers an immersive experience across platforms. Respondents’ average scores on the Immersion Index were higher than industry benchmarks for the Entertainment category across all social media platforms, which includes 350 experiences across television, film, music, gaming, and sports. There was an average of 56 versus 45.

AR experiences maintain high attention throughout while traditional advertising experiences peaks and valleys over time. A heart rate tracker graph demonstrated that every second is that much more impactful and delivers positive memory encoding. 

Augmented reality on Snapchat is more immersive than anywhere else

Participants engaging in an AR experience on Snapchat averaged an Immersion Index Score of 61, compared to an average score of 55 across the peer group.

AR experiences can drive business results

It’s clear that advertising to highly immersed, attentive individuals shows positive implications for an ad’s effectiveness. These research findings are meaningful to advertisers planning campaigns.

According to the report’s author, Andy Pang, Head of International Marketing Science from Snap: “We commissioned this research to deepen our understanding of the unique impact of engaging with Augmented Reality and whether consumers are more receptive and engaged by AR advertising as opposed to traditional advertising formats. The results are clear. When people are highly immersed, they are paying attention, emotionally engaged, and actively committing information to memory. To put it differently, they are “in the zone,” and the experience is resonating with them on a fundamental level — to the point it can predict future behaviour.”

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