Panera is launching an augmented reality (AR) ad unit—the first such AR ad unit in the food space, it says—that allows users to share the AR experience from the ad across social media platforms (Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook). That means Panera is encouraging viewers of the ad to “play” with, and share, their food.

It’s important to note that Panera is using technology to advance transparency in their menu and provide a better customer experience by:

  • Highlighting food transparency through the AR ad unit: the user taps to place a Panera wrap anywhere in front of them, with interactive buttons that animate in the menu-item name, nutritional information, and all ingredients.
  • Empowering consumers to choose their experience: almost every other brand dabbling in AR ads has done so exclusive to one social media platform; this new technology allows social sharing of AR banner assets across platforms, so Panera is giving users the power to choose the social media platform they like best (Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook) to customize their experience.
  • The unit will run on Bleacher Report using Composite, a next gen mobile ad platform created by the innovation lab of digital agency, GLOW. Panera’s AR agency, QReal, provided creative assets for the Panera campaign. By partnering with Bleacher Report to customize exclusively for one publisher, the team managed to create a more unique and innovative experience for users.

Until now, if a marketer wanted a consumer to engage with an ad in this fashion, they would have to get the consumer to download an app. That’s a tall order, when the average person downloads zero apps per month, per comScore.

By contrast, this new display ad format powered by Composite doesn’t require consumers to download anything. If they see an element of the Panera ad they like, it’s theirs for the taking.

News, Technology, Panera Bread