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Fast Forward: What We Learned From the Snap Partner Summit 2020

Everything that brand marketers need to know about Snapchat’s latest announcements

Editor’s note: This is an abridged edition of our Fast Forward newsletter. For the full version, please contact our VP of Client Services, Josh Mallalieu (josh@ipglab.com) to send a request.

On Thursday, Snap Inc. took to a virtual stage with a beach backdrop to host its latest annual Partner Summit event. The production of the event was well executed, especially the smooth integration of AR into the keynote presentation, which sets a new high-bar for virtual events. In about an hour, the company behind Snapchat announced a wide range of new features and updates regarding its popular social app. You can watch the keynote here. Here is a quick rundown of all the things that digital marketers should know.

Updated AR Lenses and Developer Tools for Unlocking New Experiences

What Snap Announced: Snapchat confidently reinforced its lead on mobile AR development with new features such as Local Lenses, voice activation, scannable logos, and SnapML, along with new partnerships to improve its visual search functions.

  • The AR lens feature previously known as “Landmarkers” is now expanded and rebranded as Local Lenses, which will allow Snapchat developers to create geography-specific lenses that interact with a wider range of physical locations.
  • A new voice-activated search function powered by SoundHound has been added to Lenses that allow users to ask the app for particulate filters, such as “make my hair pink” or “take me to the moon.”
  • SnapML, a new toolkit within Lens Studio, will allow users to bring in trained AI models to create unique visual filters with more machine learning-intensive effects.
  • Snap expanded its Scan platform for improved visual search, with partners for plants, dogs, and nutrition information. Brands can create their own Scan experiences, which can be activated from scanning logos or other visual content like ads, packaging, etc.

Why They Matter:

  • Local Lenses promises users a shared and persistent AR experience, which would be an important step towards mapping out our physical world and developing a cloud-based AR experience that is collectively accessible. This is the first time user-generated AR lenses can be seen as shared and persistent.
  • Voice-activated lens searches will greatly improve the discoverability of its AR lenses and scannable experiences, making it more user-friendly and further boost spontaneous Lens try-ons.
  • Expanded Scan platform can help brands ditch clunky QR codes and further tie in digital experiences with their physical media assets, such as print and OOH, and product packaging and physical storefronts.
  • SnapML will unleash more AR creativity from the developer community by allowing easy integration with sophisticated machine learning models.

By the Numbers:

  • More than 170 million people — over three-quarters of Snap’s daily active users — access the app’s augmented reality features on a daily basis.
  • Snap says there have been more than 1 million lenses created since Lens Studio launched two years ago.

What Brands Can Do:

  • Now is the time to look into the products and developer toolkit that Snap provides and figure out a way to leverage AR to enrich your brand experience.
  • Brands should at least index their logos with Snapchat to ensure they are recognizable to the Snapchat camera, and creating other scannable content and AR lenses would be a nice-to-have.
  • For example, Snap is partnering with AR startup Wannaby to give developers access to their foot-tracking tech to enable lenses that allow users to try on sneakers virtually. So if you’re a footwear brand, this is a new channel to experiment with virtual try-ons, possibly with social commerce integrations.
  • Voice activation can also be very helpful for brands looking to surface their AR lenses.
  • For example, if you’re a makeup brand that has invested in AR sampling, then you should work with Snapchat to make sure your branded AR lens is discoverable via voice.

Original Content In Discover and Snap Games Gaining Tractions and AR Integrations

What Snap Announced: Snap saw encouraging numbers in its Original Content, partner content in Discover, and Snap Games and decided to double down on its content initiative.

  • Snap reached multiyear extensions of commitments with partners including Disney, ESPN, the NBA, the NFL, NBCUniversal and ViacomCBS, covering new Shows and Snap Originals, as well as returns of existing original shows.
  • Snap introduced a“Happening Now” section, which is dedicated to news in Discover. It is now live in the U.S., with plans to expand internationally soon.
  • Snap unveiled its new slate of Snap Originals that will premiere over the next year. Some of these new shows will incorporate AR lenses to “bring viewers into the show” and deliver immersive experiences. For instance, Face Forward, produced by NBC, will let them see a beauty AR makeover that mirrors what’s in the show.
  • Snap Games is gaining traction among users as well, these are no-install games that run inside of Snapchat with built-in social features. And games outside of Snapchat will soon be able to let players play as their Bitmoji avatars for a more personalized gaming experience which, of course, reinforces the Snapchat brand.

Why They Matter:

  • Snap’s confidence in their media partner content and original content demonstrates Snapchat’s curation-heavy mobile content strategy is working well.
  • Snapchat’s original content and in-app games are useful tools for the app to differentiate itself from other social and short form-content apps, helping it stay sticky to users and boost engagement.
  • The integrations with AR lenses and Bitmojis showcase how mobile content could be significantly different from non-mobile content in regards to interactivity and personalization.

By the Numbers:

  • Time spent watching shows on Snapchat has doubled year-over-year.
  • Snap Originals is watched by more than 50% of Gen Z in the U.S.
  • 100 million users have played Snapchat’s in-app games since the April 2019 launch.

What Brands Can Do:

  • Given the popularity of Snapchat’s content amongst its users, brands should consider leveraging Snapchat’s content reach to target younger audiences that are hard to reach via traditional media channels.
  • If you’re an entertainment brand looking to experiment with new formats of mobile storytelling, then consider partnering with Snap to explore how AR and other interactive features can breathe new life into the viewing experience.
  • Brands should also consider leveraging Bitmoji and Snapchat’s social graphs to create social experiences within your own apps and games.

New Mini-Apps To Expand Functionality Within Platform and Offer New Brand Opportunities

What Snap Announced: Taking a page out of WeChat’s playbook, Snap is introducing mini-apps, named Snap Minis, to its platform.

  • Minis are essentially web-based apps built on HTML, and they will be easily accessible via the Chat windows.
  • Minis will start rolling out next month, with seven Minis ready at launch, including
  • A mini version of Headspace to meditate and send encouraging messages to friends;
  • A mini app by Atom for choosing movie showtimes, picking seats, and buying tickets;
  • A mini app by Tembo, which lets students create flash card decks for studying.

Why They Matter:

  • The addition of mini-apps will greatly increase Snapchat’s functionality and help it expand its use cases, potentially making it a one-stop “super app” like WeChat, for Gen Z.
  • Snap Minis offer brands yet another way to engage with Snapchat users.
  • To truly unlock the potential of mini-apps, especially for commerce-related use cases, Snap will need to solve the issue of integrating mobile payment to remove friction.

By the Numbers:

  • WeChat’s mini programs mini programs generated $113 billion for Tencent last year, up 160 percent from the year prior.

What Brands Can Do:

  • If the use case aligns, brands should consider developing a Snap Mini to ensure information and branded services are easily accessible for Snapchat users. This is especially true for brands that are looking to reach a younger audience.
  • A mini-app is easier to build and maintain than a full-size app, and upstart brands can leverage Snapchat’s existing user base to gain traction.

Upgraded SnapKit To Enable More Camera-Based Social Experiences

What Snap Announced: Snapchat doubled down on its developer toolkit, SnapKit, with significant updates that makes it easier for third-party developers to build apps atop Snap’s infrastructure for mobile AR and camera-based user interactions.

  • Expanded CreativeKit allows an app to include custom content within a lens.
  • New Snapchat custom lens that can be used to invite friends to Houseparty.
  • New CameraKit allows developers to integrate the full Snapchat camera into their apps, which enables apps like Squad to create co-viewing or shared shopping experiences while video chatting with your friends.

Why They Matter:

  • This set of improved developer tools makes it easier to develop sophisticated camera-based user interfaces, which can power new social experiences that combine AR lenses, screen-sharing, and video calls.
  • Full Snapchat camera integration means that developers and brands can add a camera to their own app that will get better as Snapchat gets better to power new experiences.
  • For example, Nike will be adding Snapchat lenses to their new wellness app and exploring new lenses to encourage daily mental health communications.

By the Numbers:

  • More than 800 apps have integrated with SnapKit, and nearly 150 million Snapchat users are engaging with these integrations every month.
  • Over 20 apps that use SnapKit are consistently ranked in the Top 100 in the app stores.

What Brands Can Do:

  • Brands should consider developing more camera-based social experiences to substitute offline events and help fans share their experiences with friends on Snapchat.
  • Brands should also consider integrating with the Snapchat camera via CameraKit to improve the functionality, especially in terms of AR and visual search experiences, in their own apps.

Revamped Action Bar puts Snap Maps and Local Businesses Front and Center

What Snap Announced: Snapchat added a new navigation bar called “Action Bar” to its app.

  • This new addition will allow users to access Snap Map and Snap Originals in just a tap.
  • Snap Map, which shows where a user’s friends are hanging out in real time, is being positioned as a top-level feature with one-tap access.
  • Snapchat is rolling out Places to local businesses to allow them to connect with users.

Why They Matter:

  • Snap Map also shows local businesses that are “popular with users,” with business listings showing things like opening hours, phone numbers and reviews from TripAdvisor and Foursquare.
  • In the U.S., users can also tap on a button to order food using Postmates, DoorDash and UberEats.
  • Rounding out its mapping product presents a new revenue stream for Snapchat, as Local businesses will be able to buy ads on Snap Map.

By the Numbers:

  • There are now 200 million people using Snap Map every month.

What Brands Can Do:

  • As Snap Map grows prominent on Snapchat, businesses need to make sure their information is properly indexed on Snap Map.
  • Restaurants need to make sure the takeout options are properly listed in Snap Map.
  • Local businesses with a target demographic close to Snapchat’s user base should consider advertising on Snap Map to attract customers.

If you find any of these announcements or brand suggestions thought-provoking and would like to discuss more about what you should do with AR and visual search, please reach out to our VP of Client Services, Josh Mallalieu (josh@ipglab.com) to send a request.

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Richard Yao

Richard Yao

Manager of Strategy & Content, IPG Media Lab