AR hasn’t demonstrated the world-changing capabilities that were touted in its circa-2017 hype cycle, it’s finding success in specific areas. Those include enterprise productivity and brand marketing, both of which were examined in recent ARtillery Intelligence reports.
Zeroing in on AR marketing, one company leading the way in providing – and generating meaningful revenue from – AR marketing is Snap. Congruent with its “camera-company” label, it made an early commitment to social AR lenses and continues to double down on the technology.
In fact, of all the players cultivating consumer-based AR products and business models, none have achieved the traction of Snap. Though social media competitors like Meta and TikTok have greater overall reach, AR lenses are more of a central priority and “north star” for Snap.
This includes 6 billion AR lens engagements per day, among other metrics. But what are the lessons and takeaways? What’s Snap doing right in terms of product and platform development? This is the topic of a recent ARtillery Intelligence report, which we’ve excerpted below.
Path to Scale
One of the paths to scale in AR is to become a platform. Snap (Lens Studio), Meta (Spark AR), and TikTok (Effect House) have done this in order to scale AR creation by crowdsourcing it. That amps up AR content, which then attracts users and ad dollars – a virtuous cycle.
But the next step is less discussed. For AR platforms, most activity happens within their walled gardens. And that’s for good reason… it’s where they want to attract users and advertisers. But as platforms mature, where do they go for the next engagement inflection?
The answer is beyond their own walls. And that’s what Snap has done with Camera Kit. The SDK takes Lens Studio’s capabilities and spins it out for brands to use. This is potentially its best path to greater lens engagement and growth beyond 6 billion daily engagements.
For example, Camera Kit has been used by the likes of Disney to create brand-specific AR content. Specifically, the entertainment giant uses Camera Kit to create AR lenses that deepen engagement with its branded content in and around its theme parks.
Another example is Burberry, which worked with Vertebrae (owned by Snap) to create a Snap-powered AR product visualization experience. All this happened on the Burberry website, where it’s most comfortable bringing shoppers in for a specific brand experience.
And that’s often the case with brands that have a well-cultivated persona, such as fashion and lifestyle brands. This could represent a segment with which Camera Kit resonates. And Snap’s ownership of Vertebrae elevates its abilities around luxe brand experiences.
Finally, a shopping-forward flavor of Camera Kit was launched at the Snap Partner Summit last year. It offers product try-on functionality, including Snap’s new full-body lenses for wide-angle shots that let users try on entire outfits in addition to individual style items.
The thought is that this lessens friction for fashion brands to offer increasingly-popular virtual try-on options. And through Camera Kit, this can all be brought into brands’ own websites and development environments where their existing 3D workflows reside.
Time to Market
One benefit to the above brands is accelerating their path to finished AR products. Building AR capability in-house and reinventing the wheel isn’t prudent when a tool like Camera Kit is available to accelerate time to market. And Snap is banking on this value proposition.
For example, in the Disney example above, Camera Kit not only saves months of product development, it creates operational efficiencies at its theme parks. Digitizing all those character interactions reduces human strain and cost, which can be meaningful at Disney scale.
With Camera Kit, all the above generally takes place on a brand’s own digital properties, which can help Snap cast a wider net. Therefore, Snap is cultivating users outside of the already converted. Some of those may represent new Snapchat users.
In that sense, it’s all about hooking in new users with a larger tent for AR. By doing so outside of Snapchat’s own walls, it’s grooming a larger AR user base. As such, we project this strategy to drive Snap’s next growth engine, and possibly that of younger AR players like TikTok.
All in all, Snap disclosed on its Q4 earnings call that Camera Kit has been integrated by thousands of consumer brands. And as it continues to evolve with purpose-built functions like shopping, we’ll see AR capabilities increasingly show up on digital properties from Gatorade to Gucci.