DIY Instagram AR Filters


Instagram released Spark AR effects yesterday allowing anyone to create and publish their own AR lens. They also introduced the new Effect Gallery, which includes specialized AR effects from rising artists to discover unique effects from the creator community.

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As published by Facebook for Developers:

“More than 1 billion people have already used AR effects and filters powered by Spark AR on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and Portal, and we can’t wait for even more people to experience all that AR has to offer on Instagram. 

Stories to tell

Instagram Stories let you express yourself in the moment and connect with friends, and AR adds rich, interactive, and dynamic layers to those experiences. AR lets artists, creators, and designers make custom effects to share with their communities and enable more vibrant forms of digital expression — and we’re happy to help bring the Spark AR community’s creative visions to life.

The creator community

A graphic design and advertising student, Aliya Ataulova (@whiteabysses) has published seven Spark AR effects to Instagram so far. She sees AR as fundamental to the future of art creation, though getting started at first appeared daunting. 

“I had never worked with 3D before Spark AR, so all of these portals and hole effects were difficult to understand at first,” Ataulova explains. And then, she discovered Spark AR Studio.

“When you spend time trying and trying, you eventually get what you want — and it all starts to make sense,” she says. 

Luke Hurd (@lukehurd) has created 30 Spark AR effects to date to reach his community on their social platform of choice. “What drew me to Spark AR was this great feature set,” he explains. “It’s on devices that everyone can use, doesn’t require headsets, and it has built-in shareability. Really, everything connected to the point where I thought, ‘I really need to be involved in this and figure out how people use this.’” 

With a career that spans three decades, Hurd definitely knows his way around emerging technologies and their ability to change the ways we see and live in the world — and he understands that along with that opportunity comes the obligation to build with people in mind. As Hurd notes, “My advice to augmented reality developers: Be a good steward to the technology and understand that you’re carrying this thing to the future of society.”

A full-time video editor and television director, Chris Higa (@chriseditingofficial) draws his inspiration from trending cultural moments — like the recent Area 51 meme, which fueled the creation of his collaboration with Sallia Goldstein (@salliasnap), Alien Effect

Since joining the Spark AR creator community, Higa has found the people to be positive and supportive. And in the future, he sees a huge opportunity for AR at large-scale events, particularly for brands looking to stand out. “My goal is to give companies an advantage by allowing their users to engage with their products in new and interesting ways,” he says. “I want to work with companies at events to provide those unique experiences.”

Whether you want to add a new layer of fun to an event like a wedding, birthday party, or graduation with a custom filter or you’re a professional who wants to continue to hone their craft, Spark AR Studio has everything you need to get started. And with Instagram Stories being used by over 500 million users daily, there’s no better place to express yourself with your own AR effects — or simply share the ways you’re using them with your community. Visit to get started or join the Spark AR Community Facebook Group to learn more.”

Marketing in the Digital Age: News Round-Up (week ending May 3, 2019)


Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street? No, but Waze can! Plus exciting Instagram changes rolling out this year, and voice enabled ads that could revolutionize an industry in this week’s Marketing in the Digital Age.

Instagram Changes Coming in 2019


  1. Launching a new camera for Stories: now users can easily scroll through a camera wheel to find features like boomerang, stickers, and zoom. This also includes a “create mode” which allows users to create Stories without having to upload a pic or video first.

  2. Donation sticker for Stories: 100% of the proceeds go to the nonprofit.

  3. Instagram will roll our Creator profiles: this has influencers wondering what the best fit if for them. The Creator profile status will be limited to those with a certain follower count and will allow for added access to data, like who followed and unfollowed you. But, scheduling tools won’t available to Creator profiles.

  4. Buy products from influencers: this feature was previously in beta for some brands. Now, according to Instagram, “public figures, creators, athletes, publishers, and artists”  will have access to sell directly on the platform.

  5. Starting this summer, anyone can create their own filters: Facebook’s Spark AR Studio (the software that brands and designers use to create Instagram Stories filters) will be available to everyone this summer.

  6. Hiding likes is an official test: this unofficially already started (see last week’s recap). Now, Instagram will be rolling this out in Canada to test starting next week.

  7. “Away Mode”: In an attempt to combat bullying and notifications during sensitive periods of one’s life, this mode gives users a chance to step away from Instagram activity and notifications without having to delete their account.

Opinion: These announcements came during Facebook’s annual F8 conference and are significant enhancements to the platform. As a company, it’s pretty smart given the recent turmoil it has faced and a way to continue to evolve with user needs to stay relevant.

Spotify to Enable Voice Enabled Ads

Summary: Spotify announced it will test out voice enabled ads within its free version that will allow a user to use verbal commands to interact with the ad. Initially, the ads will be for playlists within Spotify to “play now” or just continue by listening to the ad.

Opinion: This could be a revolution within the ad industry and could open the doors to a new form of advertising for apps and other voice enabled products (Alexa, etc.). Instead of having to recall an ad for a product, a person could interact instantly with the brand or product.

How Do You Get To Sesame Street? Waze Can Help

Summary: To celebrate Sesame Street’s 50th anniversary, 63rd Street street in between Broadway and Central Park West in New York City is officially being named “Sesame Street.” And Waze will help navigate you there. On Wednesday afternoon, Waze will start in-app messaging for people using the app in the area to get to Sesame Street.

Opinion: I love this brand integration! It’s a fun and relevant way to celebrate a brand milestone while also a boost to Waze over competitors like Google Maps. I hope the Street is filled with children and their parents/guardians who found Sesame Street next week. :)

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Marketing in the Digital Age: News Round-Up (week ending 4.26.19)


Instagram tests out hiding likes, Chipotle drove 100%+ in digital sales, and Dixie reaches a seemingly impossible 99% video ad completion rate.

Are Instagram Likes Going Away?

Summary: Instagram is testing hiding likes on posts to reduce a focus on vanity metrics. Only the posting individual or company would be able to see the likes. The focus would turn to what is shared, not the likes.

Opinion: And somewhere, an influencer just sobbed uncontrollably. I, for one, would welcome this shift as a betterment on what younger individuals are exposed to in their everyday lives. As print magazines of the like went through a similar “correction” in focusing on more “realistic” bodies, Instagram would contribute towards that change as well. As a brand, one could still see what is resonating with consumers through their on profile.

Chipotle Uses Digital to Drive Sales

Summary: Chipotle grew its digital sales by 100.7% in its first quarter? How? Loyalty programs were a key driver to this success as well as self-service pick-up shelves in restaurants and a relaunch of their website in February. They also added ready made bowls to order online to save people from having to customize orders.

Opinion: If there is any doubt, investment in digital is worth it for companies! Simple techniques that cater to customers wants translate into sales.

Dixie Ad Experienced a 99% Video Completion Rate

Summary: Dixie, a paper plates company, drove a video ad completion rate of 99% for one of its products with its ad on Shopkick, a shopping rewards app. “Shopkick incentivized consumers with ‘kicks’ — the app's rewards currency — to seek out the plates in stores and interact with the products. The tech company's 2D image recognition and post-scan video features let the CPG brand highlight product details and activate the branded video when shoppers were most ready to buy.” More than 1.7 million people engaged with the product in Wal-Mart stores and drove 16 million impressions overall.

Opinion: Reminder, Dixie is a PAPER PLATE company! It’s a great reminder that ordinary products can be exciting with the right creative and distribution points. Impressive.

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Marketing in the Digital Age: News Round-Up (week ending Mar 29, 2019)


Checkout on Instagram, Facebook Ban on White Nationalism, and E-Commerce reports on Google Analytics in this week’s Marketing in the Digital Age.

Facebook Announces Ban on White Nationalism

Summary: In the wake of the New Zealand mosque shooting (the shooter broadcast the crimes on Facebook Live), Facebook announced it will put a ban on rhetoric touting (“praise, support and representation”) for white nationalism and separatism. If a person searches for terms associated with white supremacy, they will be redirected to resources on helping people leave behind hate groups.

Opinion: I assume the issues of First Amendment rights will come up with the block of free speech and something I struggled with, even though I vehemently oppose the content like this. What I see as the difference with this, hate speech can exist but it doesn’t mean a company has to provide the platform to distribute it. People are granted access to free speech, not distribution.

Introducing Checkout on Instagram

Summary: Instagram announced launch of a beta test where you can buy products directly on Instagram without leaving the app. “When you tap to view a product from a brand’s shopping post, you’ll see a “Checkout on Instagram” button on the product page. Tap it to select from various options such as size or color, then you’ll proceed to payment without leaving Instagram. You’ll only need to enter your name, email, billing information and shipping address the first time you check out.”

Opinion: Impulse shopping at its finest!

Google Analytics Ecommerce Report: Standard vs Enhanced

Summary: “Although the Enhanced Ecommerce reports offer more information, setting them up requires more work. Only make that extra effort if you don’t have another tool that helps you analyze your customer journey and sales funnels and how they generate revenue. And if you’re just getting started with Google Analytics Ecommerce reports, the Standard option is a great choice.”

Opinion: Having clients who struggle with the investment (time and money), this article outlines the benefits of enhanced over standard ecommerce reports on Google Analytics.

Marketing in the Digital Age: News Round-Up (week ending 11.16.18)


The headlines are particularly self-explanatory in this week’s edition of Marketing in the Digital Age.

Instagram Adds Shopping Features

Summary: Instagram unveiled three new shopping features ahead of the holiday season.

  1. After tapping a product tag in a Story or on a post in their feed, a user can tap the save icon button which will prompt a “Save to shopping collection” option.

  2. Branded videos can include a a hopping icon which will feature products and prices of items in the video.

  3. A shop tab will be added for business profiles, which will also users to browse products from the retailers.

Opinion: If I were Instagram, I would go a step further and setup an affiliate sales program to take a small fee from sales originating from the platform to expand revenue. This would require making the links clickable. As a retailer, I would welcome this since it’s a new avenue from which to directly sell via clickable links (another method of paid media).

Netflix Testing Cheaper, Mobile Only Plans

Summary: Netflix is testing out cheaper mobile only plans in order to test out expansion into Asia. The first test is in Malaysia at about $4/month.

Opinion: If a company wants to expand into Asia, mobile plans are the right target given its penetration rate over smart tv’s and laptops. It also allows the company to enter at a more favorable price point in countries where salaries are lower.

Facebook Fundraisers Raised Over a Billion Dollars

Summary: Facebook announced it helped raise over a billion dollars for charities through its fundraising and donate tools. They have over a million non-profits registered in 19 countries that can receive donations directly through Facebook and over 20 million people have donated or started a fundraiser.

Opinion: I thought I would end this week’s edition on the positive that can also come from social media and community giving.

Marketing in the Digital Age: News Round-Up (week ending Nov 9, 2018)


Chat bots to the rescue.

Chatbots Working for you This Holiday Season

Summary: With the holiday season fast approaching, many brands are using chat bots to help with consumer questions. Brands love them because it streamlines efforts from their customer service department for FAQ’s. Consumers love them because the bots are often in places they already are, like Messenger, and can provide advice like gift recommendations.

Opinion: First, where has the year gone?! Second, bots are a great tool in this type of scenario to complement a robust customer service strategy.


Summary: MTV, Facebook, and AdCouncil launched a series of videos on IGTV (Instagram TV) featuring 5 inspirational female STEM role models. The series began this week and will continue every Wednesday for the remainder of the episodes.

Opinion: #wca- woman crush always! This is a great series aimed at encouraging girls to pursue interests and careers in the STEM field.

How to Set Your 2019 Social Media Advertising Budget

Summary: First and foremost, define what your goals are in the space. Is it more traffic, more engagement, more website views? Once you have a handle on this, determine what to project. For example, for more community building, gather your cost per follower (amount spent/amount gained) to get a rough estimate of your acquisition costs. If you want to increase by 25%, do the budgeting math accordingly. For increased engagement, visit previous engagements to see what it will cost you to keep on that path. Website views, use cost-per-click x target visits.

Opinion: This is a good start to break down a good chunk of tools you need to accurately forecast for 2019. You also want to take into account any campaigns that are being built out for your brand alongside any other one-off pushes that may be needed.

Marketing in the Digital Age: News Round-Up (week ending Nov 2, 2018)


Instagram Adds “I Voted” Sticker

Summary: Instagram will roll out “I voted” stickers up to two days before the election and on Stories the day of the election on Nov 6. If three or more of your friends use the stickers, then Instagram will create a "We Voted" Story, which will appear at the top of your feed, showing you the posts from everyone who has voted.

Opinion: Vote. Seriously, it’s a right that should be taken with great responsibility. There are people who fight (and die) for this right in other countries.

Twitter Puts #BeAVoter Front and Center

Summary: Twitter is going to remind you to vote via reminders at the top of your timeline with info about the candidates, issues on the ballot, and where their polling place is.

Opinion: Vote. It’s your civic duty.

I’m leaving it with this in this week’s edition because of the critical importance of exercising our right to vote. Your voice matters, your opinion matters, who represents you matters. Read about the candidates and issues and see how they will affect you. Do it over beer/wine with friends, at the beach, inside by a fire, make it fun. And, most importantly VOTE!

Marketing in the Digital Age: News Round-Up (week ending Oct 12, 2018)


How Pantene can help fix your #BadHairDay and more in this week’s Marketing in the Digital Age.

Having #ABadHairDay? Pantene Can Help

Summary: Pantene's "14-Day Challenge" invites Instagram and Twitter users to post pictures with the #BadHairDay hashtag to receive a personalized consultation from a Pantene Hair Advisor. The haircare brand has enlisted an "army" of social responders in a new #GreatHairDay Studio to engage with each #BadHairDay post. They encourage people to post videos on social media with to be used as ads from “real people” using the product. The brand saw 17x more photos with #BadHairDay than with #GreatHairDay.

Opinion: I am sure the stylists are in need of well-deserved time off after answering that many posts/tweets! The engagement is interesting in that people wanted to share more of the “embarrassing” photos to get advice. Makes sense since there isn’t much interaction needed on a great hair day.

Snap Originals in AR

Summary: Snap will be releasing a dozen new shows catered for their format. It will be leveraging storytelling through an AR focus to make the viewing more interactive. The video will be filmed in a 360-degree format so that the viewer can walk through the scene as if you’re inside of it.

Opinion: Still struggling after the controversial redesign, it begs the question: why doesn’t Snapchat go back to its old format? These videos could be a good addition but still don’t address the fundamental, mass attrition issue.

Facebook Interactions Influence Instagram Feed

Summary: If you like or comment friend’s posts on Facebook, you will be more likely to see this friend’s content on your Instagram feed. Because your Instagram feed is no longer ranked chronologically, a majority of content from friends and family were being missed. Facebook uses machine learning to prioritize what content may be most relevant for you.

Opinion: They are the same company. It’s not rocket science to put one-and-one together to see that they would cross-use data. Especially with the amount of data breaches Facebook has seen, we know they use a lot of data to market.