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.

The Camera Company: Lessons from Snap’s AR Lead

The Right Foot

After examining Snap’s strategy around Lens Studio in the last installment of this series, we pan back to examine its work to bring AR to brands’ in-house development efforts. For example, Camera Kit was launched to package up Lens Studio as an SDK for any brand to run with.

More recently AR Lab was launched with onboarding tools, educational materials, and development resources. The latter includes custom strategy guides with best practices for successful AR lens campaigns, such as converting lens interactions to eCommerce purchases.

AR Lab also offers optimization scorecards to track campaign effectiveness in real time, and an AR certification program. Altogether, it’s meant to help brand marketers and agencies gain more confidence in AR, and ease the burden of their first adoptive steps.

This is necessary because some advertisers aren’t convinced of AR’s value, some need more education, and others are stuck in their ways – as it often goes with the habit-bound Madison Avenue. So AR Lab is Snap’s way to reach these unconverted brands by lowering friction.

Can Snap’s AR Lab Mainstream AR Marketing?

Show Rather Than Tell

Doubling down on the above principles, Snap launched Arcadia. This is a full-fledged AR creative studio that works with brands that already include P&G Beauty, Verizon, WWE, and Shake Shack. It supports their AR learning curves on technical and creative levels.

The idea here is to help brand marketers translate their marketing goals into 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.

The point? By acting as a creative studio, Snap 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.

There’s also a bit of market research involved in this move. As a creative studio, Snap can learn advertisers’ needs and pain points firsthand, as well as competitive intelligence on other AR platforms. Lessons can be fed back into Lens Studio to make it a better platform.

Can Snap’s Arcadia Accelerate AR Marketing?

Load Balanced

Update 9/27: Since this article was published, Snap has discontinued operations within its ARES division due to its capital requirements that coincide with cost-cutting mandates. 

Related to the above moves, Snap more recently launched ARES. Short for augmented reality enterprise services, this bundles up Snap’s lens creation and management tools into a SaaS package. This is to meet brands halfway in terms of the software formats they’re used to.

One of ARES’ selling points is the ability for brands to distribute lenses through their own channels. So in addition to AR lenses on Snap, they can offer the same on their own apps and sites. This resonates with brands like Burberry, given well-manicured digital properties.

ARES also specializes in fashion try-ons, which are tailored (excuse the pun) towards brands that sell clothes, hats, shoes, or anything that goes on your body. Snap has developed dimensional AR try-ons and perfected the art to the point where it can now spin it out in a SaaS product.

Meanwhile, on the back end, ARES hosts and manages digital assets such as bandwidth-intensive 3D models. Leaning on Snap’s already-existing Lens Cloud, the company can help ARES subscribers host those files and deliver them in a cloud-hosted and load-balanced way.

We’ll pause there and circle back in the next installment with more details and dynamics of Snap’s AR moves. Meanwhile, see the full report here… 

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