Augmented Reality in Social Media

It’s Growing Up, and the Pandemic Is Playing a Role

Executive Summary

Augmented reality (AR) is becoming more common in social media. After Snapchat pioneered it, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and TikTok have launched their own lenses, filters and effects. In the process, AR is showing its value not only for branding and entertainment, but also for commerce.

How is the pandemic affecting marketers’ interest in using AR in social media?

The shutdown of many retail stores spurred some marketers to invest more in AR as a way to offer virtual try-on and other experiences typically only available in-store. Several social media properties now enable try-on within their apps.

How many people in the US will use AR on social networks in 2020?

We expect that 43.7 million people will use social network AR at least once per month in 2020, representing 20.8% of social network users. Snapchat will be the predominant platform.

What new AR features are available on the social platforms?

Snapchat introduced several updates in June, including machine-learning models and Local Lenses. Facebook is rolling out AR advertising, and Instagram is adding try-on features. While TikTok and Pinterest are very early in their AR development, they should not be ruled out as eventual competitors.

What are the main marketing use cases for social AR beyond entertainment?

The most prominent examples are to virtually try on makeup, sunglasses and shoes. It’s also being used for cause-related awareness and location-based overlays that augment a user’s real-world environment, though the pandemic has slowed progress on the latter front.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report explores how consumers engage with AR on social platforms and why the marketing use cases are expanding.

KEY STAT: There will be close to 50 million social network AR users in the US this year, according to our March 2020 forecast.

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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Consumer Usage of Augmented Reality Is Rising
  3. There’s More AR on More Social Networks
  4. Social AR’s Utility to Marketers Is Growing
  1. Overcoming Challenges and Looking Ahead
  2. Key Takeaways
  3. eMarketer Interviews
  4. Read Next
  1. Sources
  2. Media Gallery

Interviewed for This Report

Chris Abbruzzese
Bollé Brands
Vice President, Trade Marketing
Interviewed July 15, 2020
Olivier Bouan
Product Manager, Augmented Reality Commerce
Interviewed July 13, 2020
Shamsul Chowdhury
Vice President, Paid Social
Interviewed July 16, 2020
Courtney Christ
Associate Director, Paid Social
Interviewed July 22, 2020
Allison Ferenci
Camera IQ
Co-Founder and CEO
Interviewed July 20, 2020
Matt Maher
M7 Innovations
Interviewed July 13, 2020
Carolina Arguelles Navas
Global Product Marketing Manager, Augmented Reality
Interviewed July 9, 2020
Scott Nelson
Panera Bread
Vice President, Marketing
Interviewed July 17, 2020
Patrick O’Keefe
e.l.f. Cosmetics
Vice President, Integrated Marketing Communications
Interviewed August 3, 2020
Eric Oldrin
Director, Emerging Platforms and Creative Shop
Interviewed July 13, 2020
Erica Patrick
Mediahub Global
Vice President and Director, Paid Social Media
Interviewed July 22, 2020
Katie Puris
Managing Director and Head of Global Business Marketing
Interviewed July 24, 2020
Mo Said
Mojo Supermarket
Founder and Chief Creative Officer
Interviewed July 21, 2020
Sonia Tsao
Camera IQ
Co-Founder and COO
Interviewed July 20, 2020
Joe Williams
LadBible Group
Immersive Tech Lead
Interviewed July 20, 2020
Cindy Zhang
Technical Lead, Try on
Interviewed July 14, 2020

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Debra Aho Williamson


Bianca Carasus
Blake Droesch
Junior Analyst
Jasmine Enberg
Senior Analyst
Chris Keating
Research Director
Angela Kim
Senior Researcher
Natalie McGranahan
Senior Researcher and Taxonomy Manager
Rini Mukhopadhyay
Forecasting Analyst
Victoria Petrock
Principal Analyst

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