Since launching Effects House, TikTok’s AR efforts have been fairly quiet, but gaining steam in the background. For those unfamiliar, Effects House is TikTok’s AR creation platform. Sort of like Snap’s Lens Studio and Meta Spark, it’s meant to scale AR creation through crowdsourcing.
Effects House also notably follows the momentum set by TikTok’s broader global growth and popularity. Despite some geo-political uncertainty in the U.S. (which has died down a bit), it stands tall with 1.7 billion global monthly active users and 3 billion cumulative downloads.
This is one reason we’ve always said that TikTok is a sleeping giant in the world of AR. Its levels of user engagement and session lengths – due mostly to its discovery-based algorithm and UX – give any subsequent AR efforts fertile soil to grow into. This follows Snap’s early AR playbook.
To that end, the launch of a creator platform was a logical step to bring AR efforts to the next level – in both scale and creative range. And that’s where TikTok lies now. But questions still loom, such as its ability to compete with Snap’s “camera company” levels of AR commitment.
Before getting into those strategic questions, TikTok has shown that its AR efforts have some momentum. Last week, the platform came out of beta, allowing AR creators to download Effect House 3.0 and join its Discord to engage with platform resources and other creators.
As part of this milestone, TikTok also revealed some key figures that characterize its current operational scale. Specifically, Effect House creators have inspired 21 billion+ videos with 8.6 trillion+ views. The aforementioned Discord meanwhile has 400,000 members.
TikTok is also showing ample commitment to Effects House, with more than 20 software updates over the past year. These include tools that let creators seed effects by importing images from their camera rolls, or material editors that enable deliberate surface textures in AR effects.
And like everyone else inside and outside the AR world, TikTok is playing with AI. Some recent AI-powered tools in Effects House include Art Maker and Asset Studio. These infuse generative AI into the AR effects creation process, such as prompt-driven 3D visual elements.
Lastly, no AR platform is complete with monetization. Though at earlier stages than Snap and Meta, TikTok is moving in that direction with tools for brand marketers to start using the platform to build sponsored lenses – the presumptive Effects House revenue model.
Make or Break
All the above moves and milestones put TikTok in more direct competition with Snap and Meta’s AR creation platforms, which brings us back to strategic positioning. As noted, TikTok is advantaged by its growth, momentum, and engagement levels in a broader sense.
The question is if its AR efforts will inherit these these strengths. There’s evidence of that in the above figures and other factors such as TikTok’s co-creation ethos. TikTok staples like Duets raise unique viral possibilities for AR lenses that are created, shared, and modified.
Meanwhile, randomizers have been a fun and simple AR format that’s gained traction on TikTok. These position a rapidly scrolling set of attributes on an anchor point such as your forehead, which stop to reveal a given designation (think: what Simpson’s character would you be?).
But despite these differentiators, and TikTok’s broader tailwinds, the question once again is execution. Can TikTok parlay all the above into Snap-level AR success? As Snap has shown, it takes ample investment and commitment. This will be the make-or-break factor to watch.