Snap has expanded its AR marketing formats. Its new Sponsored Filters are a simplified flavor of its signature AR lens format. Among other things, this could broaden the appeal of AR marketing for brands, as well as small businesses with less tech savvy and resources.

But first, what are filters and how are they different from the more prevalent lens format? In short, they’re applied to photos and videos after a user has captured a given moment. Lenses are normally selected by users prior to launching the camera to take a photo or video.

This subtle difference can be meaningful. Though Lenses have more deliberate application, they are relatively limited in their activation window. Filters – given their post-capture activation – comparatively provide a longer window of applicability and therefore greater potential usage.

Lenses also tend to be more advanced and dimensional, such as virtual cosmetics or shoe try-ons. These integrate with physical-world elements and body parts, whereas filters are more like floating stickers and adornments. The goal is to achieve a more fun and simple vibe.

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5-Minute Abs Filters

Going deeper into these differences, lenses’ technical complexity is one reason they’re activated before media is captured. Using Snap’s computer vision and tracking, the scene is mapped as lenses are applied in dimensionally accurate ways – one reason they’re so popular.

But a downside of that advanced functionality is production rigor. Though Snap has developed Lens Studio in a low-code way for creators and developers, lenses still often require time and technical agility. Lens creators tend to be artists, graphic designers, or generally tech-adept.

Filters by comparison are easier to create. In fact, Snap says they can be completed in less than 10 minutes using the Lens Web Builder in Lens Studio – a free DIY creation tool for filters and lenses. This is done through a combination of templates and uploaded brand assets.

Popular filter templates include face filters, location-based overlays, countdown timers, and quiz generators. Filters also come with the ability to integrate calls to action that drive and track specific conversion actions. This appeals to brand marketers with measurable outcomes.

All the above also makes filters small-business-friendly, as noted. For example, a restaurant, bar, or bowling alley can create face filters that users can apply and share when at or near the location. The idea is for these businesses to reach Snapchat’s unique Gen-Z audience.

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To show rather than tell, Snap claims that a few businesses have already trialed and validated the effectiveness of sponsored filters. And these represent a breadth of business sizes and categories, per the above, demonstrating the range and user-friendliness that Snap is shooting for.

For example, the Columbus OH-based Franklin Park Conservatory created a sponsored filter to promote its botanical garden. Using location-based and event-based relevance, it boosted attendance and ticket sales using an AR filter that could be unlocked in and around its venue.

Similarly, the Portland Trailblazers amplified fan engagement during home games using team-centric face filters. As both of these examples demonstrate, filters could be fitting for anything meant to capture the ethos of a place or event. More use cases should flow from there.

Altogether, Snap could be broadening its addressable market now that it has various flavors of sponsored lenses and filters. Covering this range of demand cases and capabilities lets it cast a wider net to continue to monetize AR as a growing part of the brand marketing mix.

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