Snapchat's new docu-series lets viewers insert themselves into scenes via AR
- Snapchat is producing a new 12-episode docu-series with Bunim-Murray Productions that stars teen YouTube beauty and fashion creator Summer Mckeen, according to Variety. The 12-part "Endless Summer," debuting in September, will be "soft-scripted" — it features real-life people in scripted scenarios — with each episode at four to five minutes in length.
- "Endless Summer" and other Snapchat docu-series will include several interactive features. Viewers will be able to join watch parties and after shows, and interact with fans and cast members. Snapchat is planning to debut lenses that allow users to put themselves into the show's settings and then share the experience. The shows are also planning to integrate augmented reality (AR) "portals," where viewers can drop themselves into scenes using the Snapchat camera, per Variety.
- The docu-series is part of Snapchat parent Snap's strategy to expand its lineup of original programming for its 191 million daily active users, who are mostly age 18-24, with character-driven narratives. Snap plans to debut new scripted Snapchat Shows with NBCUniversal that include comedies and dramas later this year.
As the concept of social TV, or TV-like programming run on social media platforms, has ramped up over the past several years, Snap and its competitors have been looking for ways to innovate with the format beyond static, linear video narratives. Snapchat in May launched a murder-mystery series called "Solve" that let viewers vote to guess who the killer was in each week's episode, for example. By incorporating more interactive features into "Endless Summer," like AR portals and lenses, Snapchat might be able to engage audiences in a similar way, albeit by using its camera lens technology rather than user polling.
Facebook has made similar moves to create an extra layer of interactivity and community-building in its video content. The social network this week introduced new tools for creators that allow them to add polls, quizzes, challenges and more to their videos. As part of the rollout, Facebook also unveiled several game show-styled series leveraging the features, such as "Outside Your Bubble" with BuzzFeed News.
Like Facebook, Snap has been ramping its original video programming. It first launched Snapchat Shows in 2016, and has since developed more than 50 series for Snapchat's Discover portal by working with partners like NBCUniversal, which was an early investor in the company. By teaming up with an influencer like Mckeen, Snapchat might able to deepen its connection with its predominantly young user base. Mckeen has more than 1.4 million YouTube subscribers.
So far, Snapchat Shows have been unscripted. "Endless Summer" is the platform's first soft-scripted show, per Variety, and might mark a step toward fully-scripted original programming. These moves, collectively, could make Snapchat a more appealing option for marketers looking to advertise around experimental social video offerings. Snapchat's ad revenue is predicted to grow 81.7% in 2018, reaching $1 billion for the first time and giving it a 1% share of total U.S. digital ad spending, according to forecasts from eMarketer.