- Snap announced a partner program to help advertisers find creative shops that are certified to develop augmented reality (AR) lenses for the social media app, the company announced. The global Lens Creative Partner program has more than 30 certified firms in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia at launch, TechCrunch reported.
- To receive certification from Snapchat, AR creators have to complete a course about the development process, creative best practices, ad policies and buy models of sponsored AR Lenses.
- Snap plans to expand the certification program to more regions in the weeks to come and to add more than 100 creators in the next few months, TechCrunch reported. More than 70 million Snapchatters interact with AR lenses every day, spending an average of three minutes with them, according to Snap.
Snap's Lens Creative Partner program makes one of the app's most popular features more available to a wider group of advertisers. The company originally limited Lens development to its in-house agency, Team Snapchat, but has gradually opened up the platform to developers that work for brands and agencies. Snap last year introduced its free Lens Studio, giving the creative community more software tools to create AR experiences.
The social media company seeks to bring in more advertisers to help monetize its shrinking audience amid stiff competition from rivals Facebook and Instagram. The Lens Creative Partner program is the latest in a string of marketer-friendly moves. Snapchat this week added a shopping channel to its Discover section called "Shop and Cop" that lets mobile users browse merchandise and buy directly in the app instead of being directed to a separate website. Plus, Snapchat plans to open a Bitmoji store that will let users personalize merchandise with the cartoon avatars, TechCrunch reported. Snapchat in June began testing self-serve shoppable ads, later renamed as Collection Ads, before expanding them to more marketers, and also recently added a visual search feature that lets people use the app's camera to search for items on Amazon.
Snap's AR competitors Facebook, Apple and Google have also created similar software for open up development of the immersive camera features to more creators. However, Facebook's effectiveness at copying many of Snapchat's key features led the U.S. Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission last week to subpoena Snap for information about its initial public offering in March 2017, Reuters reported. The inquiries follow an ongoing shareholder lawsuit that claims Snap misled investors about how competition from Facebook's Instagram app had limited Snapchat's growth. Snap has said the lawsuit is meritless, according to Reuters.