SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook has unveiled an augmented reality feature for its Messenger app at the company’s F8 developer conference with a view to allowing users to visualise the products for which they are shopping.

Monetising the incredibly popular Messenger app has proven difficult for the company, which has struggled to do so over a number of quarters; however, with 1.3 billion users on the service, a new platform for developers to build AR features sees the company join fellow Silicon Valley giants, Reuters reported.

One of the first brands to use the feature is the cosmetic retailer Sephora, which will allow users to virtually trial make up, said David Marcus, head of the Messenger app, in an interview with Reuters. Other brands taking part in the launch are Asus, Kia Motors, and Nike.

The social network unveils its AR offering following developer facing products from Apple and Google in the shape of ARKit and ARCore, respectively. Meanwhile, Ikea, for instance, has released an app for consumers, which allows them to try furniture in their homes.

For some time, Facebook has been trying to get consumers and businesses to speak to each other over messenger, primarily as a way to overcome slow or ineffective customer service. The ideal, Marcus says, is if ads on Facebook lead straight to a conversation on messenger.

For AI enhanced advertising the prospects are strong. Recent research from Mindshare Futures and Neuro-Insight found that participants exposed to AR experiences displayed a 70% higher memory response than the control. Long-term memory encoding is important as the brain perceives a future use for the information – as a result there is a strong correlation between memory response and subsequent decision making.

Nike has already used AR in a campaign on Facebook’s rival Snapchat, through which users could buy Nike Air Jordan III’s straight from the platform.

Already, Facebook’s conference has thrown up a brace of significant announcements, including a dating feature focused on giving people something to do on a first date, and further pushing its 'meaningful relationships' mantra. Elsewhere, the network is introducing new privacy features, and a standalone Oculus virtual reality headset.  

Sourced from Reuters, WARC, TechCrunch, The Verge; additional content by WARC staff