- Snapchat is increasing the functionality of its Lenses feature to better recognize landscapes, according to TechCrunch.
- Lenses have been able to recognize faces and add simple AR overlays to landscapes such as snowfall, but the enhanced version of the technology reportedly in the works will be more robust and allow the app to generate virtual objects that interact and intersect with the real world.
- Sponsored Lenses are a popular ad format on the app and the increased functionality might give marketers an entirely new range of options for creative interaction.
Snapchat's AR enhancements should appeal to marketers because they open up the app's creative canvas past users' faces, which were previously the main interactive element of any sponsored lens campaign. It's hard to not think of the potential retail integrations here, in particular, and that space appears to be a focus for Snap as well. The company reportedly acquired the startup Cimagine late last year, who's developing a patent-pending AR technology that enables smartphone users to scan real-world products without the need of a reference marker.
Snapchat continues to roll out new features and app updates in advance of its initial public offering of stock, which is expected for March. Sponsored Lenses is an ad format that brands have taken to even though the ads only last 24 hours and are fairly expensive, with a standard ad costing $450,000, a weekend ad costing $500,000 and sponsored Lenses for special events and holidays costing $700,000 or more, according to reports.
Snap is likely feeling the pressure to innovate as competitors like Facebook continue to borrow Snapchat features. Instagram Stories, which only launched in August but reportedly has a daily active user base to rival Snapchat's, is apparently siphoning off some of the platform's talent and audience. Snap was an early leader for social AR technology and more robust offerings might increase its value and appeal.