Don’t Underestimate the Marketing Power of Snapchat AR Ads

Joscelyn Sevier
Jan 4 · 5 min read

Yes, people do use Snapchat- and it’s not just kids!

With over 186 million daily users worldwide, users sharing 250 million AR Snaps daily, and the average user spending 33 minutes in app- Snapchat is far from dead. At present North American users account for 79 million of the app’s user base, with Europe following at 59 million. On average, users spend 3 minutes engaging with each augmented reality lens.

While Instagram has become a household name for social media filters, Snapchat is still king when it comes to connecting with younger audiences through augmented reality. The current world leader in ‘camera marketing’, which offers a new realm of engagement and analytics with interactive ads, Snapchat is paving the way for digital marketers to engage with their specific target market in an immersive way that was never possible with traditional marketing.

According to Carolina Arguelles, product marketing lead for Snapchat, “While the last 10 years have been about something called social media marketing, the next 10 years are going to be about this new thing called ‘camera marketing,’ and this is really about the camera as an ad placement”. It’s all about capitalizing on consumer behaviours while they’re fully engaged with a product or advertisement, which is what Snapchat does best thanks to their highly polished augmented reality platform.

Image from Lens Studio by Snap

Snapchat’s new AR capabilities

In 2016 Snap gave advertisers access to AR lenses. The following year, Snapchat launched Lens Studio for Mac & Windows, allowing marketers and consumers to create 2D and 3D AR World lenses, and most recently in 2018, Face lenses. This self-serve creative platform enables any brand to create their own AR experiences for Snapchat and share them with the world using a custom Snapcode that lasts for a year and can be unlocked in-app for 24 hours upon scanning.

World lenses use the rear-facing camera, allowing users to immerse themselves in a completely virtual environment. They can either walk around a 3D scene, or enter through a digital portal into another world, or watch 3D art and animations come to life in your existing environment. Characters and objects can be dragged and dropped into a scene and fun interactions can be programmed between users and these objects- such as proximity based experiences, or interactive tap and multi-user games.

Face lenses use the front-facing camera to overlay computer graphics on top of users faces, changing their look completely or enhancing their natural beauty. 2D and 3D graphics can be combined to frame your face or turn you into a specific mascot or character, which brands have been taking advantage of to sell their products and services.

Image from MarketingLand

Push for e-commerce advertisers

Snapchat is also working to improve its e-commerce offerings. In what it calls its “largest push for e-commerce advertisers”, Snapchat has recently launched Shoppable Snap Ads and Story Ads for e-commerce advertisers. These ads showcase a product catalog that users can tap through, and when clicked they’re redirected to the advertiser’s website without leaving the Snapchat app.

This, combined with the Snap Pixel which was launched last October, means that advertisers can measure granular details about campaign analytics. The Snap Pixel, which is JavaScript code that helps e-commerce advertisers measure campaigns and allows them to create campaigns around direct-response objectives such as purchases or sign-ups. Advertisers are able to see the total number and total value of purchases driven by their Snap campaigns, including their exact return on ad spend (ROAS).

Shoppable AR campaigns

While Instagram may boast a larger audience, a higher view rate for stories due to their autoplay feature and cheaper ads; Snapchat has better filters and AR capability, and allows for much wider sponsorship campaign reach. Not to mention the fact that 70% of posts on Instagram are never seen, as it is such an oversaturated platform.

Gatorade launched their Super Bowl campaign on Snapchat, which involved a lens that made users appear to soak themselves in the sports drink. This lens was viewed 168 million times and resulted in an 8% increase in purchase intent.

Foot Locker and Jordan Brand created four different AR ads based on the four shoes which were newly released as part of the Air Jordan 1 Gatorade collection. The ads were debuted on Snapchat on Christmas Day. Although the campaign only ran for 2 days, the average play time on the lenses was 45 seconds, and it yielded over 4 million impressions. Snapchat clearly demonstrates the power of augmented reality and social media to drive awareness and engage consumers.

More than 350,000 virtual experiences have been created in the past year alone, according to Arguelles. Most of them were created by Snapchat users, but brands and retailers have been leveraging this tool as well, including Nike Jordan which sold shoes through the app, BMW which promoted a new car model in 3D, and Amazon which linked with Snapchat to include Amazon products in visual search results. Many companies, large and small, are beginning to realize the potential of shoppable AR campaigns in the app.

Seasonal AR lens by AccessAR

Brand your own AR experience

That said, you don’t need to be a powerhouse brand like the BMWs or Nike’s of the world to launch a successful marketing campaign and gain value from Snapchat’s monetized AR platform. Mid-size brands with an appetite for innovation and interest in emerging technologies can also benefit from Snapchat AR ads, as a means of diversifying their product offerings and better understanding and connecting with their target audience.

Marketers need to consider budget allocations and Snapchat’s predominantly millennial user-base to determine whether advertising through Snap AR lenses will deliver measurable results for their brand. The most risk-averse approach is to invest a test budget into Snap ads, because the platform offers metrics such as reach, engagement, views and completion rates, it’s easy to monitor whether you’re getting the return you need.

Reach out to our team anytime if you’re interested in learning more about how we can help create your own custom AR experience for Snapchat!

Joscelyn Sevier

Written by

I’m a creative director and product manager in tech with a background in digital painting and visual development for software applications.

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