While Meta races to build the company’s first AR glasses – along with a new set of VR prototypes recently unveiled – mobile marketers are already looking for opportunities to capitalize on the new technology. These are all parts of Mark Zuckerberg’s broader plan to reorient Meta and build a more robust metaverse.
Zuckerberg reportedly sees the launch of AR glasses as an “iPhone moment,” which could position his company in a new, more flattering, light. However, mobile marketing insiders see the debut as something different — an opportunity for brands to become early adopters and position themselves as frontrunners in a new digital frontier.
“Smartphones were revolutionary because, in comparison to previous devices, they are so intuitive to use and have a touch screen interface; AR will take this to the next level, allowing users to overlay real-time 3D digital objects and scenes in the forms of games, e-commerce experiences, training and education and marketing campaigns in their own environment with the controls driven by simple gestures,” says Faisal Galaria, CEO of Blippar, a company that builds AR solutions and tools for developers and brands.
Galaria sees a “generational change” on the horizon, and he believes the widespread adoption of AR glasses could be even more significant than the shift from desktop to mobile computing, as AR glasses evolve from narrow use cases into broader platforms.
“We’ve seen this before as the iPod grew to dominate the music industry, before mobile telephony was added and it morphed into the iPhone. This was followed by the development of third-party apps and enabled a whole new ecosystem of consumer and business apps to flourish,” Galaria says. “That was just 15 years ago.”
Revenue from headworn AR—primarily headsets and glasses—is projected to grow from $1.6 billion in 2020 to $17.7 billion in 2025, according to projections by ARtillery Intelligence, buoyed not just by Meta’s potential contribution, but also Apple’s reported plans for its own AR glasses.
Seeing the Future
Early predictions for how mobile marketers will use AR glasses revolve around the development of three-dimensional interactive experiences. Augmented reality has already begun to revolutionize customer experience for global brands, allowing customers to visualize products and interact with products in more immersive environments.
Porsche, for example, built an augmented reality mobile app that enables customers to design a 3D vehicle and place it directly in their own driveways. Global furniture brands like Wayfair and IKEA have had similar success using AR-based product visualization in branded apps that allow users to place virtual products inside their actual homes.
AR-based marketing has gotten easier to implement thanks to Google and Apple, which both released SDKs for using AR in apps for iOS and Android. A number of third-party companies, including ThreeKit and Wikitude, have also started helping brands create AR-based marketing experiences with their own augmented reality SDKs.
Adding AR capabilities to mobile apps has resulted in reduced product return rates and greater levels of app engagement. Putting that same technology on a product that’s worn, like glasses or a headset, would allow users to engage even more with the outside world — opening the door to more innovative and experiential out-of-home campaign experiences.
“We believe that in the next five to 10 years AR glasses will become as ubiquitous as the smartphone,” Galaria says. “[Imagine] creating a whole new economy of 3D interactive experiences that entertain, inform and allow the user to engage even more so with the world around them, rather than focusing their eyes, heads down, on a mobile phone.”
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight. A version of this article previously appeared in Street Fight, reproduced here under an editorial partnership.