- Snapchat's parent company unveiled new Snap Kit features at its first partner summit Thursday, including App Stories capabilities that let third parties integrate Snapchat Stories into their apps. Users of Tinder, for example, can now send a photo or video to a new "My Tinder Story" option on their dating profile from within the Snapchat app. Social network Houseparty and community guide Adventure Aide will launch similar tools later this year.
- The company will launch an audience network in the coming months to let developers monetize their apps and potentially reach more viewers with full-screen mobile ads than advertising on Snapchat alone. Starting April 4, iOS developers in the U.S. can apply to get access to the software development kit (SDK). The new Snap Kit also lets users bring their Bitmoji to outside apps like Fitbit and Venmo, as well as letting partners including Netflix, GoFundMe and VSCO build custom stickers and filters that can be shared from their respective apps into Snapchat's camera.
- Other updates include a multiplayer gaming platform, Snap Games, with original and third-party games and plans for non-skippable six-second video ads to launch in Q3. Snap also announced a slate of original, mobile-first shows and updated its popular augmented reality (AR) lens tools and camera search features to let users scan their surroundings and unlock related GIFs and AR content, which includes a new partnership with Giphy.
Among Snap's many announcements at its partner summit, the company's plans for its Snap Audience Network and a video game platform are stirring the most interest among mobile marketers. The audience network will give advertisers broader reach among the ad-supported apps that partner with Snap, whose image-messaging app Snapchat hasn't shown any user growth since Q1 2018. Ad giants Facebook and Google have similar platforms that give marketers broader campaign reach among apps and mobile websites, even among digital audiences who don't use their services.
Snap seeks to differentiate its audience network from Facebook and Google's with a focus on user privacy, although it's not clear what kind of data the company will collect from users to inform its ad targeting. Snap didn't provide many details about the Snap Audience Network, except that it will begin operating later this year.
As for video gaming, Snap is joining the rush among tech companies to create multiplayer games that act as social networking platforms in order to spark interest among loyal gamers and encourage users to spend more time on the mobile platform. Snap is set to face significant competition in the mobile video game space, which is growing increasingly crowded as Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google ramp up their respective gaming content to carve out a slice of the $130 billion gaming market.
Snapchat's remaining announcements from this week's summit focus on the user experience, including advanced camera features and original programming. The company introduced Photomath and Giphy as partners for the new camera search feature that lets users press and hold on the camera screen to unlock immersive experiences, such as scanning Snapcodes to unlock filters and lenses, physical products or barcodes to browse Amazon search results and identifying music with Shazam. The more sophisticated camera features, AR capabilities and slate of Snap Originals demonstrate how the social media app is significantly ramping up its efforts to keep users engaged on its platform and better monetize its services through selling video ad inserts to mobile marketers.