Last week, we wrote about Snap’s new AR Lab. In partnership with ad agency giant WPP, it will start advertisers on the right foot for AR marketing. This includes onboarding tools, education and development resources – all meant to bring AR to a wider base of brands.
Now, just one week later, Snap completes the one-two punch with the launch of a full-fledged AR creative studio. Known as Arcadia, it will work with brands and ad agencies on creative and technical levels to translate their marketing goals to AR campaigns and experiences.
This will play out as a “studio of record” for brands; or as smaller atomized engagements such as project-based work and educational partnerships (“teach a man to fish”). Arcadia already has brand clients signed up including P&G Beauty, Verizon, WWE and Shake Shack.
Notably, Arcadia bills itself as platform agnostic. It will operate beyond Snapchat’s own walled garden, including AR experiences that live across platforms, web and apps. Doing so could help it cast the widest possible net and appeal to brands with a range of campaign objectives.
Follow the Money
A question that arises from Acadia’s launch is why? What has motivated Snap to launch its own AR creative studio, and what ends could it achieve? One answer involves following the money; in a broader sense, AR is the engine behind Snap’s revenue growth (more on that in a bit).
But why a creative studio? Snap’s ongoing AR development involves championing the technology and accelerating adoption among brands and agencies – the biggest reason for its recent App Lab launch as noted. And that’s sometimes an uphill battle of marketing and education.
By acting as a creative studio, it can show rather than tell. This could accelerate brand adoption and bring AR to a broader base of brands beyond early adopters. This “lead by example” approach could ease the AR learning curve and friction for Snap’s future advertisers.
This makes Arcadia a sort of “reference design” for agencies and other studios regarding best practices in using Snap’s Lens Studio. Think of it like the way that Google’s Pixel phones are partly to demonstrate to OEMs how to elegantly integrate Android with mobile hardware.
There’s also likely a bit of market research involved in this move. As a creative studio, Snap can learn their needs and pain points first hand, as well as competitive intelligence on other AR platforms. Those learnings can then be fed back into Lens Studio to make it a better platform.
Back to Snap’s broader AR business motivations, Arcadia is just the latest move in its ongoing AR development and actualization as a “camera company.” In fact, Snap explicitly attributes AR lenses as its growth engine during the past few years of ad revenue acceleration.
Not only has it popularized AR lenses by having them piggyback on media/selfie sharing, but it’s monetized that traction. The same qualities that make lenses viral also create favorable performance in their sponsored instances, including favorable conversion rates.
Add it all up and Snapchat continues to see real results from its AR development efforts, which has motivated it to continue doubling down on the technology. This can be seen in robust feature development in Lens Studio as well as its visual search tool Snap Scan.
Beyond product-based developments, Snap is investing to develop an ecosystem. That includes cultivating the Lens Studio creator community, launching App Lab….and now a full-fledged creative studio. Expect rapid-fire investment to continue as Snap reinforces its AR lead.