More than one in ten consumers in the US will engage with augmented reality content on a monthly basis this year with uptake of the new tech being driven by social media formats such as Facebook Stories and Snapchat Lens, a new study by eMarketer has found.
Augmented reality is defined as “the integration of digital information within a person’s real-time environment,” and it is currently experiencing marked growth in the US, where 40 million people will partake in some form of AR in 2017 – an increase of 30.2 per cent compared to last year. eMarketer predicts that nearly one in five Internet users in the country will be using AR by the end of the decade.
“Users of Snapchat Lenses comprise the vast majority of our AR estimates,” eMarketer forecasting analyst Chris Bendtsen said. “Snapchat growth will continue to contribute to AR users in the future, but in the next several years, eMarketer also expects Facebook Stories to be a significant growth driver of AR usage since it is now widely available to Facebook’s user base.”
While AR is entering the mainstream consciousness, virtual reality has been slower to take off in the US and is unlikely to achieve mass adoption anytime soon. The study expects just over 22 million people to engage with VR content at a minimum of once a month in 2017, which is a significant uptick compared to last year, but growth is expected to stall somewhat by 2019.
VR content includes 360-degree clips and photos that can be viewed via connected headsets, TVs, laptops, desktop PCs and mobile devices. The category is mainly seeing growth on platforms such as YouTube and Facebook. However, while VR delivers a more immersive experience than AR, engagement levels are low due to higher costs of entry. Just 2.9 per cent of the US population is expected to use a VR headset each month this year.
Last year, Greenlight Insights claimed that VR could change marketing campaigns after it found that 71 per cent of consumers view brands that use it as “forward-thinking.” Nearly two-thirds of respondents also said that they would feel a higher degree of brand engagement when taking part in a sponsored VR experience.