Snapchat : Illustration

Snapchat Will Invest $750,000 For AR Influencers to Create New AR Lenses

A jellyfish follows you around on the beach. It looks like an emoji, and as you hold up your phone, you can make the jellyfish swallow someone whole. Or, you see a barnyard scene on your phone complete with cows and pigs in the background while your friend pops into the scene as the farmer.

That’s the basic idea behind augmented reality lenses, which show up in the Snapchat app and allow users to turn people into Disney characters or scary Halloween witches.

At its annual Lens Fest event held in Santa Monica recently, Snapchat told a crowd of about 100 AR influencers they will invest $750,000 for them to create new AR lenses.

The idea is to compete with other apps like TikTok and Instagram that are also experimenting with AR, and also to go up against heavyweights like Amazon, Apple, and Google who have all talked about augmented reality glasses or (as with Amazon) already have eyeglasses on the market.

Snapchat struck gold with their lenses, which add rabbit ears to your friends or purple antennas to your sister. Young adults and teens have taken to the idea in groves.

Snapchat knows AR is the next step, which uses animations and other ornamental features to make a live video or a photo look like it was occurring in space or on the set of a movie. Snapchat is following a distinct trend with other social media apps where users have the ability to augment a photo or video in unusual ways.

AR does this in real-time and could allow the user to record the video or snap the photo, then transmit that to their friends or post on other social media channels. The current version of their video-recording glasses called Spectacles do not support AR, although it’s easy to see how these lens filters could be added so that users can record clips and photos with an AR lens activated on the glasses.

The push to attract AR influencers is also a critical step. While holding a conference for only 100 influencers might seem like a small crowd, the impact could create a snowball effect if all of those influencers develop a new AR lens and release them for thousands and millions of users.

In 2019, Snapchat invested $250,000 for lens creators to go wild with a new Lens, so the $750,000 is three times more than that initial amount.

I like where Snapchat is going with this. Whenever a social media platform strikes gold, it’s important to keep augmenting (excuse the term) and keep innovating.

Lenses are one of the main differentiators with Snapchat, even the reason younger users use the app. While other apps can make you look older or younger, and some can turn you into a cartoon character, Snapchat still has a corner on adding unique effects to a photo. It works quite well. Users stay hooked because they know the lenses are unique. It’s part of the Snapchat brand identity.

Will AR lenses push the company even further? I’m sure Snapchat is hoping for success since they have a new competitor in TikTok (which recently surpassed 1.5 billion downloads). And, Instagram will not sit idle when it comes to AR.

As with any app or any product, it’s all about constant innovation.

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