What’s hot ? AR or VR ? Augmented Reality or Virtual Reality ? Here’s some data [2019]

virtual reality vr ar trends 2019 xxl

This article was originally written on September 13, 2019.

A nice time capsule of the state of AR & VR in pre-Meta(verse) days.

I love AR and VR and I’m a data geek.

So I was curious to see what are the hottest trends in AR & VR in 2019 according to a few sources.

What’s hotter on Google Trends? AR or VR?

As you can see from this graph showcasing the evolution over the last 5 years, the interest for these technologies has been pretty stable with a first peak for Oculus, the hottest brand in the space, in January 2016, when they announced the launch of the Oculus Rift VR at CES 2016.

There was a second peak in December 2018 when Oculus discounted their Go and Rift models for Christmas.

The third major peak for Oculus was in May 2019, with the recent launch of the Oculus Quest

oculus quest vr 2019 xl

HTC Vive displays a more modest curve than Oculus (in Green). 

VR is still hotter than AR for a mainstream audience, both in terms of branded searches and overall tech searches.

AR VR trends Google 2019 xl

Caveat: except if you use the abbreviation, then AR takes the lead on VR.

AR vs VR 2019

There could be multiple reasons for this discrepancy.

  • People might wonder what AR is whereas they already know what VR stands for.
  • AR is also the abbreviation for Armalite Rifle… 

Magic Leap, the secretive AR company backed by Google and Alibaba, isn’t as mainstream as Oculus yet, as we can see on the first chart. Their blue curve has a few bumps which correspond to major announcements, the latest one in August 2018 when Magic Leap added a Buy Button on their website (08/08/2018). 

magic leap

The interest in Leap Motion (which can be used both for VR and AR) has been declining over the last 5 years, as we can see from this graph focusing on the brand. 

leap motion

Hololens, the mixed reality product developed by Microsoft, displays a flat curve for the same period.

hololens trend 2019

What is the hottest tech on Google Search ? AR or VR ? 

If we get a closer look at search queries via the Google Search Bar, we come across a few interesting trends.

If we type “augmented reality” in Google.com (in London), here are the suggestions. 

augmented reality suggestions
augmented reality suggestions 2

And we type “virtual reality”, here’s what we get.

virtual reality 2019
virtual reality keywords

According to Keywords Everywhere’s stats, the bid for “augmented reality” is $1.87 whereas the bid for “virtual reality” is $1.14.

So AR seems hotter than VR from a business perspective (there are a lot of exciting applications as you can see in this post by my friends at Tapptic) whereas VR branded searches are still hotter than AR-related ones (first chart of this piece). 

Both “augmented reality” and “virtual reality” have an estimated volume of 201,000 searches per month. To put this into perspective, “Whatsapp” (single word) generates 83,100,000 searches per month on Google and “instagram” 185,000,000 (!). The word “drone” generating 1,830,000 queries per month (DJI as a brand = 1M searches per month). 

People are searching for “augmented reality apps” (14,800/mo) and “virtual reality headset” (49,500/mo), more than “virtual reality glasses” (18,100/mo) or “virtual reality goggles” (12,100/mo). 

Games are much hotter in VR (27,100/mo) than AR (5,400/mo).

If we append “meaning” to both concepts, here’s what we get, VR has the lead.  

augmented reality meaning
virtual reality meaning

What are the most popular AR/VR brand sites on the web ?

According to SimilarwebOculus.com generates around 3.44M visits per month on their website.

oculus visits 2019

Vive (HTC), 845,000

vive visits 2019

Magic Leap, almost 150,000.

magic leap 2019

Leap motion, almost 115,000

leap motion 2019

We don’t have the numbers for Hololens since it’s part of the broader Microsoft.com domain. 

What are the most popular publications for AR/VR? 

Using Ahrefs Content Explorer, I had a look at 2 different queries, sorted by TOTAL SHARES (Trends for the last 30 days).

I first searched for pieces incl. AR + AUGMENTED + REALITY in the body of the text. 

Here’s the result.

ar vr publications 2019

And then I searched for VR + VIRTUAL  + REALITY in the body of the article.

And here’s what I got.


1.9M shares for the most popular AR-related publication, which is actually an app description on the Play Store for a Beauty & Filter camera. 

And 1M shares for the most popular VR-related article, about the fact that being obsessed with dinosaurs would enhance kids intelligence (AR & VR are great ways to bring back dinosaurs to life). 

We have 3 Beauty AR games in the top AR pieces (that’s a heavy trend) and some deeper tech/business-related articles in the top VR pieces.  AR is definitely the easiest reality-enhancement tech you can experience on your smartphone, since it doesn’t require any extra equipment, hence its popularity for basic use cases such as filters / lenses.

What does Ahrefs tell us about the popularity of AR & VR? 

If you type in VR for the US market (Google.com), here’s the data you get.

ar vr ahrefs

It’s super hard to rank for VR (head term), Oculus is the #1 parent topic and VR Porn is very popular (267,000 searches / month).

If we do the same exercise for AR, we see that it’s not automatically related to “Augmented Reality”. The #1 related query containing AR is AR 15 (which is the acronym for the ArmaLite Rifle. We also have AR Book Finder (Accelerated Reader Bookfinder) which has nothing to do with Augmented Reality.  

ar vr ahrefs stats

So let’s search for “Augmented Reality” (USA). Here’s the result. Less competitive than VR (67/100 ranking difficulty). 

Augmented Reality ahrefs 2019

And compare it to “Virtual Reality” (USA) to have 2 full expressions. We see that virtual reality generates more search queries (107K vs 84K).

Virtual Reality

Another interesting takeaway is that it’s easier to rank for “virtual reality” than “vr”, a nice opportunity for all SEO-minded copywriters. We have the same long tail keywords than the ones we spotted through a simple Google Search: virtual reality headset, virtual reality games and virtual reality porn. 

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