Facebook is getting into the augmented reality (AR) advertising business, entering a space previously dominated by Snap.
Facebook announced Tuesday that it would begin offering AR ads in the News Feed. People will be able to use their mobile device's camera to participate in the experiences.
AR involves superimposing computer-generated images on top of real-world video or camera images, and was first popularized by the Pokemon Go mobile video game in 2016. More than 80 million people in the U.S. use AR monthly, according to The Boston Consulting Group. That figure is projected to hit 120 million by 2021.
Snap is considered the industry leader in AR ads, and allows opportunities like sponsoring popular Snapchat filters called Lenses. Apple is also betting on AR technology, including encouraging developers to make content for the technology using its ARKit.
One Facebook AR ad test from Michael Kors let people try on a pair of their sunglasses virtually. Sephora, NYX Professional Makeup, Bobbi Brown, Pottery Barn, Wayfair and King will debut experiences this summer.
“People now expect a personalized and visually inspiring experience wherever they shop — whether on their phone or in-store, which is why video will play an increasingly important role in the mobile shopping experience," Ty Ahmad-Taylor, vice president of product marketing at Facebook's global marketing solutions division, said in a statement. "In fact, we're already seeing video become the preferred medium for product discovery on mobile. As retailers prepare for their biggest shopping season of the year, we're excited to introduce new products that will help them both delight and inspire shoppers, and ultimately drive sales.”
Facebook has been copying many of Snap's features, especially on Instagram, and it seems to be working. Instagram Stories, Facebook's Snapchat clone, now has double the amount of users as Snap's app.
Facebook also announced a Video Creation Kit to help brands make mobile-first video ads, as well as expanded its click-to-buy Shopping on Instagram feature to any company that has shopping enabled on the platform.