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Brief Published: 19 Apr 2017

AR Wars: Facebook vs Snapchat

This week, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg revealed his vision for an augmented reality (AR) future at the company's annual F8 developer conference. He sees AR as more than just a fun tool or service: "We see a new platform," he said. Crucially, Facebook is opening up its AR capabilities to developers via its new AR Studio, enabling them to build and distribute AR filters to Facebook users.

So what does this mean for Snapchat? The ephemeral app has led the way on AR filters, but it will have a challenge on its hands to compete with Facebook's developer-driven AR platform. In a bid to grab some of the attention away from Zuckerberg, this week Snapchat launched World Lenses, enabling users to place 3D digital items – such as rainbows or phrases like 'OMG' – directly into their physical environment.

Presently, Snapchat has the advantage when it comes to AR-powered brand partnerships: the app's geo-filters and lenses are a go-to tool for huge numbers of marketers. US automaker FCA launched its second Snapchat partnership this month – a lens that creates windblown hair for its Jeep Hair, Don't Care campaign – following the "incredible success" of their first partnership in 2016, according to FCA Global's chief marketing officer Olivier Francois.

Nonetheless, Facebook's move into AR will offer massive opportunities for brands in every industry, from simple e-commerce tools to immersive branded experiences. The AR wars are going to get very interesting for marketers.

For more on the marketing opportunities of AR, virtual reality and other immersive technologies, see State of Mobile: Global Youth Focus and Future of Video: Ignition 2016.

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