- Snapchat today released software tools to help marketers create augmented reality (AR) ads for the image-messaging app. Lens Web Builder, which parent company Snap is touting as the first web-based AR Lens production tool, doesn't require specialized technical expertise to create professional-looking AR content, per an announcement shared with Mobile Marketer.
- Lens Web Builder has a library of hundreds of templates and thousands of 3D objects and animations to help marketers create AR experiences in minutes. Brands with limited marketing budgets can create AR lenses without paying creative fees to access the repository of 3D assets.
- While there aren't any creative fees for Lens Web Builder, minimum campaign spending requirements still apply. The software tools are separate from Snapchat's Lens Studio, which is geared for 3D developers with more expertise at modeling objects and textures, per its announcement.
Snap's release of Lens Web Builder aims to democratize the creation of AR advertising content that has been the domain of marketers with bigger creative budgets and access to specialized expertise. Those limitations have prevented marketers with smaller ad budgets from creating engaging AR content that's hugely popular on Snapchat. More than 75% of users engage with AR content every day on average, making the immersive experiences a central feature of the image-messaging app, according to the company.
Lens Web Builder is the latest example of Snap's effort to prioritize the development of self-serve tools that make its platform more accessible to a wider group of advertisers, potentially compelling more marketers to include Snapchat into their mix. The company in 2017 introduced Lens Studio to give developers the software tools for creating AR experiences, but as the company acknowledges, those tools require more advanced technical expertise.
Last year, Snap hosted its first partner summit as part of its effort to strengthen ties with the marketing and creative communities. At that time, it announced plans for the Snap Audience Network to let brands place ads on other apps, and this year began a pilot program for the advertising platform. Snap last fall introduced its Creative Kit for Web to let brands and publishers share web content on Snapchat.
For Snap, the development of Lens Web Builder can help the company to reach greater economies of scale among a clientele of small and medium-size businesses. By diversifying its customer base among more advertisers, Snap can fuel ad sales growth in niche markets. The company reported revenue growth of 44% to a record $561 million in Q4 from a year earlier, but faces growing competition from TikTok, the viral video app that's also popular among younger U.S. mobile users. Extending its AR features for more advertisers may help Snap to maintain that revenue growth.