TikTok Is Experimenting With ‘Effects Studio’, Its Own AR Development Platform
TikTok has been the talk of social media since 2020. While the platform began as a music and dance video app for young adults, it has proliferated thanks to the presence of plenty of adults, brands, and businesses. In June this year, TikTok retained the #1 spot for the most downloaded app globally, boasting more than 689 million monthly active users. Over the course of 18 months, TikTok has topped this list 16 times – quite an achievement for an app facing various issues and bans. Clearly, TikTok has proven its staying power and that it can compete with the biggest social media companies out there.
The growth of TikTok led to the development of the short format video, a budding space that other platforms like TikTok couldn’t stay away from. The suggested ban of TikTok and its ambiguity led to many new players coming into the space – and to big players, like Instagram, launching Reels.
Data monitoring firm App Annie suggests that the average time a user spends on these apps is higher for TikTok than for Tiktok’s competition, indicating higher levels of engagement.
TikTok’s Own AR Development Platform
TikTok has launched a new creative toolset called TikTok Effect Studio, which is currently in private beta testing mode and only allows its own developer community to build augmented reality (AR) effects for the platform.
On a new website called “Effect House,” TikTok has asked interested developers to sign up for early access to Effect Studio. The interested developer needs to fill a form on the website giving their name, email, TikTok account info, company, level of experience with building for AR, and portfolios or examples of their work.
Developers are asked whether they are using a Mac or PC and if they are testing Effect House for work or personal use. While details are thin on the ground, it looks like Effect Studio has been designed to stand compared to other social app tools where developers can build AR effects that people will be able to use in their TikTok videos.
TikTok has confirmed that the tech website was launched earlier in August, but the project itself is still in its early stages of testing and in only a few select markets, one of which is the US.
TikTok has been increasing its investment in developer tools over the past couple of years. However, it is safe to say that their focus of late has been on toolkits from third-party developers who would like to work more closely with TikTok on their own apps. Today, TikTok’s developer website allows access to tools that let app makers add TikTok features to their apps, like user authentication flow and sound sharing, permitting users to publish videos from a third-party editing app TikTok.
However, the new TikTok Effect Studio is not intended for use with third-party apps. Instead, it aims to build AR experiences and, perhaps, other creative effects that would be offered to TikTok users directly in the consumer-facing video app.
Unwilling to confirm its broader goals for TikTok Effect Studio, the company declined to share any details about the exact tools that may be included, citing that the project is at a very early stage. The team at TikTok stated that “We’re always thinking about new ways to bring value to our community and enrich the TikTok experience.” They added that “Currently, we’re experimenting with ways to give creators additional tools to bring their creative ideas to life for the TikTok community.”
TikTok is a platform that has always focused on creating influencers and enabling them to scale and monetize their content. Along with sponsored campaigns and ads, this is key to TikTok’s monetization.
Effect Studio’s Effect On Brands And Influencers
Having said the above, the launch of an AR toolset would make TikTok more competitive among its industry rivals, who today bank on creative communities to expand their apps’ feature sets with new features and experiences. Snap, for instance, spent close to $3.5 million last year directed towards creating the Snapchat AR Lens. In the meantime, at its F8 developer conference in June, Facebook announced that it had grown its Spark AR platform to more than 600,000 creators in over 190 countries, making it the largest mobile AR platform in the world.
Turning to the consumers, they undeniably love TikTok for many reasons. To start, it is different from other existing social media platforms; while other platforms include options for video, TikTok is solely video. Captions are usually crisp and often not needed. Unlike YouTube, which is also video-centric, TikTok is designed for mobile devices, and the clips are short bursts of action compared to longer, more detail-oriented videos. Also, content created for TikTok is often shared with anyone who wants to see it. Additionally, in a seemingly uncanny way that apps like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram have yet to fully emulate, TikTok’s algorithm for surfacing short-form videos often knows the user exceptionally well.
A significant chunk of TikTok’s popularity has likely come from the timing of the COVID-19 pandemic. As people across the globe were quarantined in their homes for prolonged periods, they had more time to browse the Internet. TikTok, as an app, was created to showcase dances and people creating their own takes on popular audio clips. During the pandemic, more people had the time to practice and learn those dances, further developing their own versions to upload.
According to reports, TikTok refused to comment on a time frame as to when these tools would become more broadly available. Instead, they characterized Effect Studio as an early “experiment.”
While TikTok is still relatively new, its swift growth has shown no signs of slowing down. Using TikTok in a brand’s marketing strategy will be useful, as TikTok can help raise awareness of a brand and increase its popularity easily—perhaps even before you create your brand accounts on other social media platforms.