AR hasn’t demonstrated the world-changing capabilities that were touted in its circa-2017 hype cycle, but 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.
Picking up where we left off in the last installment of this series, one of Snap’s success factors in AR is the strength of its developer platform, Lens Studio. This is what drives its 250 million daily lens users who engage 6 billion times per day collectively, and 5 trillion times cumulatively.
It also has 300,000 creators who have developed more than 3 million lenses. This makes Lens Studio the center of its growth strategy. And given that positioning, Snap continues to invest in the platform in terms of updates and expanding capabilities for lens creators.
A few recent examples include broader lens sound libraries, depth mapping, and monetization tools such as integrated calls-to-action. Lens Studio also continues to get better analytics so that lens creators can have a feedback loop and benchmark lens performance.
In addition to advancing Lens Studio’s capabilities, these updates represent a few key themes in Snap’s evolution. For example, one theme is lens depth and immersion, including more licensed music in Snap’s sounds library so lenses can have greater audio dimension.
Similarly, Snap’s World Mesh works in a growing range of smartphones to enable them to scan extensive depth maps of a given space before placing a lens. This lets lenses realistically interact with physical spaces. And an updated physics engine emulates forces like gravity.
Meanwhile, lens creators can access APIs to integrate things like stock tickers or animations that sync with weather conditions. The idea is for creators to run with this in several directions. And geo-local capabilities enable lenses that are discoverable at specific places.
Call to Action
Beyond AR depth and immersion, another key theme for Snap is its investments to empower the Lens Studio creator community. As we’ve explored in the past, Snap recognizes that lens creators are the first step that catalyzes the virtuous cycle that drives its AR business.
Those creator empowerment tools include exposure, such as profiles that allow them to display their past work. In fact, some lens creators are making a living from contract work to develop sponsored lens campaigns for consumer brands. Snap wants to support this.
In the same spirit, creators can offer “lens packs,” which are available for brands to purchase. These flow into Camera Kit, Snap’s API that lets brands integrate and customize Snap lenses directly in their design environments, rather than reinvent the wheel with homegrown AR.
Similarly, new tools in Lens Studio increasingly support creator monetization. As noted earlier, this includes the ability to plant calls to action in lenses, such as buy buttons for selling goods, or links that bring users to an online store to buy something or discover more products.
Lens performance analytics likewise continue to evolve with more functionality. That way, creators can get a better sense of what lenses resonate most. They can use these demand signals to course correct or optimize their time – particularly those who make a living on Lens Studio.
Lastly, Snap’s AR Innovation lab “Ghost” lets lens creators apply for grant funding up to $150,000 to develop new lenses. Add it all together and Snap isn’t just intent on attracting creators to lens studio… it’s backing that up through meaningful financial incentives to fuel lens creation.
We’ll pause there and circle back in the next installment with more excerpted insights. Meanwhile, see the full report here.