In April, Facebook held its annual developer conference, F8, where it announced the integration of a new augmented reality component. Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that superimposes computer-generated images over real-world views. It can be used to accomplish three different things: overlaying information on the real world, adding digital objects to the real world, and enhancing existing objects. Facebook hopes to make augmented reality a part of everyday life, much like status updates are today.
How Facebook Envisions AR Working
- The camera on your smartphone will be transformed into an engine for AR.
- Third-party companies will be able to build digital effects that can be layered over what you see through your camera lens. You will have the ability to add these effects to still images, videos, or even live videos.
- You will also be able to “pin” digital objects to locations in the real world that others can see when viewing that object through their phone.
Why This Matters for Brands
These changes have the potential to transform how brands advertise on Facebook. Through AR lenses, users will be able to fully immerse themselves in branded worlds, which will feel less like ads and more like experiences—but still provide valuable brand exposure.
Additionally, this has potential to increase the value of Facebook’s location-based targeting. By pinpointing exactly where these lenses are being used, Facebook should be able to serve highly targeted, specific, and relevant ads and suggested content.
Lastly, brands should monitor the growing arms race between Facebook and Snapchat. The latter pioneered AR technology on social and announced its newest feature, World Lenses, the same day as Facebook’s F8 announcement.
The last time Facebook “borrowed” ideas from Snapchat, it found a smash hit with Instagram Stories. It’s too soon to say who will win the AR-ms race, but betting on Facebook rarely steers brands off course.