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What are augmented reality (AR) filters and how are they transforming the way consumers engage with brands?

The Rise of AR Filters: Opportunities and Threats for Brands

Augmented Reality (AR) filters, also known as lenses and effects, are transforming the way consumers engage with brands. As the lines between physical and digital continue to blur, AR filters are becoming an increasingly important tool for enhancing consumer experiences and increasing brand revenue.

As the global augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality (MR) market continues to experience rapid growth, reaching 28 billion U.S. dollars in 2021 and projected to surpass 250 billion U.S. dollars by 2028, the adoption of AR filters is also on the rise.

By 2025, nearly 75% of the global population and almost all smartphone users are expected to be frequent AR users. AR filters are not just a novelty or a "toy", but are increasingly seen as a practical tool that can be used in everyday life. In fact, 76% of people expect to use AR filters as a tool, and 94% of consumers who interact with products that have AR experiences have a higher conversion rate.

What are AR filters?

But despite their growing popularity, many people still struggle to define or describe what AR filters are. AR filters alter or enhance the real-world environment seen through a phone, computer, app camera, or AR headset by adding digitally-added images, objects, text, or other information. AR can enhance both the user's self-view (front facing camera) and the view of their world (outward facing camera).

Social media is driving AR adoption, with people eager to share their favorite brand's AR experiences. Over 4.5 billion AR photos and/or videos are taken daily by consumers, and this number is expected to grow to 17.6 billion by 2025. The COVID-19 pandemic has also accelerated the adoption of AR filters, as consumers are seeking new and engaging ways to interact with the world. As a result, worldwide spending on augmented and virtual reality is forecast to grow from $12 billion in 2020 to $72.8 billion in 2024. 

The disruptive potential of AR filters

But the rise of AR filters also presents a threat to well-established companies and industries. Digital disruption is becoming a real concern, as the use of digital capabilities, channels, and assets changes the fundamental expectations and behaviors in a culture or industry.

According to a report by GlobalData, 70% of industry professionals surveyed in the second quarter of 2021 indicated that augmented reality (AR) would have the most disruptive impact on their industry out of a selection of seven emerging technologies, including AI, cybersecurity, cloud computing, IoT, blockchain, and 5G. This is a significant increase from the previous quarter, where only 51% selected AR as the most disruptive technology. Additionally, 58% of respondents reported becoming more positive towards AR over the past year.

In order to stay competitive, companies must understand how technology is transforming their industry and find ways to respond. For brands, investing in increasingly sophisticated AR-powered experiences is crucial. This will not only meet the growing demands of consumers, but also help to stand out in a crowded market. As more consumers adopt AR filters, it is important for brands to keep up with the latest trends and technologies in order to remain relevant and competitive.

With the potential to deliver almost 2x the levels of visual attention compared to non-AR experiences, and the ability to improve memories and elicit powerful responses from consumers, it is clear that AR filters are here to stay.

Overall, the rise of AR filters presents both an opportunity and a threat for companies and industries. Those who embrace change and invest in AR-powered experiences will be better positioned to earn the business of consumers, while those who fail to adapt will fall behind their competitors and risk being left behind.

Digital disruption is not what happens to you, it is about how you respond to shifting realities happening around you. 

"Companies that Adopted, Banked. Companies that Didn’t, Sank."

The numbers

4.5 billion

Over 4.5 billion AR photos and videos are taken daily by consumers. This number is expected to grow to 17.6 billion by 2025 

2x the levels of visual attention

AR delivers almost 2x the levels of visual attention compared to their non-AR equivalent, leading to improved memories and more powerful responses from consumers.

94% higher conversion rate

Interacting with products that have AR experiences leads to a 94% higher conversion rate


“Disruption - it is great when you are the disrupter, but it is scary when you are the one being disrupted.”

- David W. Cearly, Vice President of Gartner Research 

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