- Facebook is testing augmented reality (AR) experiences that are tied to real-world location markers, according to TechCrunch.
- A closed-beta test is being used to promote "Ready Player One" and "A Wrinkle In Time," but Facebook plans to add tracker-based AR to its AR Studio next month, making it available to all developers.
- For the pilots, Facebook Camera users can point their phones at a movie poster to see a virtual world and other effects that jump out at the screen. Facebook launched the Camera Effects platform and AR Studio less than a year ago. In December, it opened the AR Studio to all developers.
The new tool lets Facebook offer brands and developers a wider range of AR content with a potentially better user experience, since markerless AR can misinterpret a user's surrounding spaces, creating awkwardness. Marketers might value the tool most when tailoring location-based or experiential activations that tie together digital elements with the real world, as evidenced by the movie posters for "Ready Player One" and "A Wrinkle in Time." Marketers could also use the feature to set promotional reminders that content is available to engage for users, rather than depending on users to remember to use the Facebook camera to look for content when they're out and about, per TechCrunch.
Facebook has been working to strengthen its AR capabilities to get ahead of competitors like Apple and especially Snapchat. In August, it acquired FayTeq, a German startup that tracks objects in video content and allows for the objects to be manipulated or removed. With the ability to virtually edit video to add or remove objects, combined with the new location-based markers, Facebook marketers will have new tools to demo products or provide interactive product information. Giving marketers the ability to create AR experiences that are more dynamic could allow them to deepen their social interactions with consumers.
Most AR efforts on social media so far have been relatively static, such as selfie filters, animations and 3-D items placed into worlds. However, the content is proving increasingly popular with users. In 2017, it was projected that 12.3% of the U.S. population would engage with AR content, and that number is forecast to grow to 16.4% by 2018, according to eMarketer.