Snapchat doubles down on AR with new sponsored Lenses and geofilters


Augmented reality is the future of mobile photography — or, at the very least, mobile advertising. This week, Snapchat is debuting three new features that build on its system of Sponsored Creative Tools: World Lenses, Audience Lenses, and Smart Geofilters. They each operate slightly differently, though the goal is the same: to get you to take more branded selfies.

World Lenses debuted in April, but have now been opened up to advertisers. Think of them as the Sponsored Lenses you’ve probably already encountered, that dress up your selfies with AR-based content — only fleshed out for a greater degree of interaction.

snapchat new sponsored creative tools

World Lenses will be able to literally manipulate the world around you (in addition to your face) by placing 2D and 3D objects in the environment that can trigger animations and actions when tapped on or looked at. They’re named as such because they’ll be launched in entire countries and regions simultaneously, rather than specific, localized areas. That’s where Audience Lenses come into play.

Audience Lenses are functionally the same as World Lenses, though these are targeted based on location and demographics. Additionally, they’ll tie into Snapchat’s Lifestyle Categories — sets of users grouped by their interest in similar content producers. Advertisers will be able to tap into all of this data to position a campaign squarely for a certain audience, as opposed to the less discriminate approach of using World Lenses for everyone on Snapchat.

Finally, there are Smart Geofilters. Before Lenses, geofilters were the first destination for sponsored content in Snapchat. In the past, they acted as static borders or artwork atop a user’s snaps. Over time, they became a bit more dynamic, showing current scores for sporting events, among other uses. Now, branded geofilters will also be able to incorporate location data to deliver a unique filter depending on where they’re used.

Warner Bros. will be one of Snapchat’s first clients to use Smart Geofilters in the run-up to the launch of Everything, Everything, an upcoming film based on the popular young adult novel of the same name. In addition to the movie’s logo, the geofilter will display the user’s high school or university name when a snap is taken within those boundaries.

None of these additions are completely new to the service, though they are powerful expansions to the tools advertisers already have at their disposal. Snapchat is noticing that interactive content is keeping people engaged. For example, the average user messes around with a sponsored Lens 15 seconds before sending it, according to the company via TechCrunch.

Rather than simply doubling down on autoplay ads and more exclusive content for the Discover feed, Snapchat is taking a serious look at how and why people use its app — and it could help lead the company in a more profitable direction.