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In “new normal” shelter-in-place life, lots of businesses are suffering — especially high touch services and local storefronts. But a handful of others, mostly in tech, are exceeding normal usage levels. That includes quarantine-friendly fare like Zoom and casual games.

We can now put Snapchat in that category. The company says that group chats are at an all-time high, and video calls were up 50 percent in late march versus the previous month. It also claims that many of those calls apply AR lenses to add some extra whimsy to dark times.

But more directly-quantifiable AR stats come in the separate figure that time spent playing with lenses in late March was up 25 percent month-over-month. As we’ve examined, time-spent is more telling than other usage metrics like app downloads because it reflects engagement.

Chance to Shine

So what types of lenses are resonating with shelter-in-place masses? Reflective of Snapchat’s overall use, it’s mostly lenses used on photos or videos and shared asynchronously. But lenses are also increasingly used in live video conversations, per the above stat on video calls.

Similarly, the Snap Camera desktop tool has seen a 10x surge in downloads in March, as people are using larger at-home screens for video chats. For those unfamiliar, the Snap Camera tool for desktop applies AR lenses to Snap’s lesser-known web conferencing-like function.

This tool gets relatively little exposure, but it could get its chance to shine in the current environment. A theme that keeps popping up in our recent analysis is how these challenging times could force new perspectives and discoveries from which some products benefit.

Beyond the desktop Snap Camera, good-old mobile lens use is likewise getting lots of traction. More than 445 Discover Stories or Shows have been produced on COVID-19 (AR and non-AR based) and over 68 million people have viewed COVID-19-related content on Snapchat.

Drilling Down

Going beyond the formats being used most on Snapchat in these irregular times, what types of topics and lenses are resonating most? Snap broke this down for us as well. These are mostly logical and unsurprising usage trends, but still valuable for perspective and validation.

Here are Snap’s findings, replicated verbatim for easy reference:

Looking to Stay Informed
— News and financial sites are seeing increases in activity as people look to stay informed and plan accordingly in the current environment. 

— Equity trading apps have also seen a spike in interest as Snapchatters look to pay closer attention to their investments in this time of uncertainty. 

Practicalities of Flattening the Curve
— Online shopping for athleisure, pet products, and home goods are trending as Snapchatters spend more time shopping on their phones rather than in-store. 

— As consumers are looking for alternatives to dining out and at-home cooking, food delivery — primarily prepared foods — is taking off with increases in web visits and responses to app install ads. 

— In-line with industry wide shifts towards mobile activity, we’re observing increased engagement on our ads, with a 36% increase in install volume for app ads, and a 19% increase in swipe-up rate overall during late March compared to late February. 

Social Distancing and Well-Being
— We’ve seen a spike in interest fitness & wellness, streaming & music, gambling games, and mobile gaming, as public entertainment and fitness venues are shut down in major portions of the country. 

— More people are exploring hobbies like interior decorating and crafts. 

— Online meditation services are seeing increases in activity. 

These are telling figures, representative of shelter-at-home activity through the lens (excuse the pun) of Snap usage. We’ll circle back with more data as we continue to observe “new normal” user behavior. It could force new AR discoveries that sustain past these challenging times.

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Disclosure: AR Insider has no financial stake in the companies mentioned in this post, nor received payment for its production. Disclosure and ethics policy can be seen here.