Google on Wednesday expanded its augmented reality tools for beauty with new virtual hair color and foundation trials, while giving brands the opportunity to think harder with AR ads to promote their products.
Hair color experiments are starting with a variety of shades from L’Oréal brands, but will soon grow with the addition of Splat, Revlon and others. Consumers can sport digital ‘files for themselves or browse for models that share similar features. Likewise for the foundation.
The latter country launched Google’s core matching tool last year, an experience that allows users to choose from a library of 148 models representing a wide range of skin tones, ages, genders, face shapes, ethnicities and skin types. The latest augmented reality update allows shoppers to try digital makeup for themselves by searching for a foundation type or name, selecting a product, and selecting “try it.”
“I’m half Chinese, half Spanish, so for me in particular, I feel like these products are incredibly useful, just because of my skin color, etc.,” Lilian Rincon, senior product manager at Google Shopping, told WWD.
It sees the new features as the latest chapter in a strategy that began three years ago when Google first introduced beauty AR tools for lip color and eyeshadow in 2020.
“We introduced [them] to truly help shoppers find the right products easily and confidently,” he continued. “And we’ve continued to roll out new features that leverage a variety of technologies, from AR to AI, to bring these experiences to life.”
Notably, the announcement comes on the heels of parent company Alphabet’s latest earnings report; This should have been cause for celebration, given the massive advertising revenues that exceeded expectations.
Unfortunately for the search giant, revenue of $76.7 billion, up 11 percent from last year, and ad revenue of almost $60 billion, up 9 percent, weren’t enough to stop a massive one-day decline in shares. The stock fell 9.8 percent; This was likely due to investors’ disappointment that AI wasn’t driving further growth, particularly at Google Cloud, or filling Google’s projected operating margins.
Earnings and revenues are not of Rincon’s purview, and neither is Google’s cloud business; but AI is no less influential on Rincon’s work at Google Shopping. He noted that earlier this year his team introduced AI-powered generative virtual try-ons for clothing, and the technology is elevating AR for areas like hair, which is important for new features.
“We partnered with hair dye manufacturers to develop the processing code for each shade,” Rincon explained, adding that the processing code is what determines the hair color when AR is applied. “We have also developed a proprietary machine learning [machine learning] “It is a model with this feature that focuses especially on hair.” The ML model, which includes 10,000 data points on modern hairstyles, ensures that AR technology can accurately identify hair in an image.
AI is clearly important to Google in many ways, but at Google Shopping it is intertwined with AR, or at least may constitute twin priorities. If so, the timing seems particularly apt these days, given Snap Inc.’s recent decision to distance itself from enterprise AR goals.
Meanwhile, Google continues to push forward by expanding categories for virtual tryouts and taking it to more places, including the real world. Last weekend, he hosted a pop-up event with Pat McGrath Labs in New York City; so consumers could examine physical products or try digital versions on the mobile app, which is now brimming with AR for more than 50 brands.
Rincon noted that in the last six months alone, the list has swelled to include Pat McGrath, Cover Girl, Dior Beauty, Fenty Beauty, Laura Mercier, Makeup by Mario and many more. The company has also begun accepting AR assets from various data providers such as PulpoAR and Perfect Corp.
As the pipeline of participating brands, data and assets expands, so does access to the consumer experience; The company is also launching virtual beauty trials on mobile web browsers in the US. In practical terms, this means anyone with a smartphone can view the experience; There is no need to download an application. First, the hair color and foundation are ready, lip and eye makeup will come soon.
Google’s beauty AR efforts are growing in another important area: Ads.
According to internal data, Google Shoppers are 10 percent more likely to engage with beauty products when offered with AR features. Now beauty advertisers have a new way to prove it to themselves; Google is officially rolling out an option that allows brands to run virtual trials instead of featured product images. Unlike the mobile web expansion, lip and eye makeup trials will be held first, followed by foundation trials.