• Jonathan Lee

The Power of Social Augmented Reality

Updated: Sep 6, 2019

Facebook has announced that SparkAR is now available for the general public to create AR experiences via Instagram.

Here at VI we have been working with the Instagram team as part of the closed beta test for the last few months alongside high profile users such as Kylie Jenner, NBA, Ariana Grande, and Gucci.

Facebook first launched its augmented reality offering back in April 2017 under the name Camera Effects - a year later this became SparkAR and thousands of developers and creators have been using the platform to create experiences across both Facebook's Messenger App and within the Facebook newsfeed, The major appeal for brands using this type of technology is to develop a deeper connection with the 1.5 billion people that use Facebook around the world.

This is Instagram's first foray into augmented reality and interestingly it once again pits them against Snapchat who have been one of the leaders in the social AR space over the last few years.

Snapchat have really embraced augmented reality and this has paid off for them in the last 12-months with increased users and revenue. According to data from Sensory Power when Snap launched their gender swap filters earlier this year, downloads jumped to 41.5 million globally from 16.8 million the month before. That's a huge increase in new users through the power of augmented reality and something that Instagram will be hoping to benefit from now they have joined the AR party.

Increase in Snapchat downloads post launch of the gender swap AR filters

The global AR/VR market is projected to increase to $198 billion USD by 2025 (source: Statista 2019 report) and both technologies, especially augmented reality are starting to become more mainstream as a result of the fantastic work from platforms like Facebook, Snap and now Instagram.

TikTok also offers augmented reality features to users in their platform. This app is growing at a rapid rate and as owners ByetDance look to monitise the platform with advertising opportunities for brands it won't be long before there is a forth player in the social AR space.

This is great news for the technology and great news for brands. As the general population are exposed to more and more augmented reality experiences it broadens the scope of what can be achieved with this type of technology. Whilst some of the AR experiences within social platforms are without a doubt gimmicky, they are doing great work in making AR more mainstream. When you see the results of the Snap gender swap filters you cannot argue that there is an appetite for this technology amongst users.

The challenge for brands is to use the technology to not only wow their audience but to create purposeful and utility based experiences that engage their consumers and drive tangible results for their campaigns.

At VI we specialise in creating high fidelity AR experiences through social platforms that deliver on a variety of KPIs. We are a certified creative partner for both lens studio and SparkAR and if you would like to talk to us about an upcoming campaign or experience please reach out to us at

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