- Snapchat this week rolled out a previously announced feature to create and share persistent augmented reality (AR) content on a large scale, according to a company blog post. The geotargeted Local Lenses — called City Painter — is available in a section of London, letting Snapchat users cover the area with 3D virtual murals that only can be seen when using the photo-messaging app, Wired reported.
- City Painter lets Snapchat users spray virtual paint above stores on London's Carnaby Street to reveal pre-designed graffiti murals. Snapchat users can see other people spraying the streetscape with virtual paint shooting out of their smartphones, and vie to cover shops in different colors, per Wired.
- Snapchat's Local Lenses were created by parent company Snap's camera engineering team in London and point to how AR tech may evolve towards bigger experiences going forward. The team also created Landmarker Lenses that let Snapchat users share AR content on famous buildings such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris and Buckingham Palace in London.
Snapchat's Local Lenses, which were first announced at its Snap Partner Summit in June, are likely to have several applications for mobile marketers that seek to offer an immersive, geotargeted experience to users. The City Painter lens offers a playful interactive experience to Snapchat users, and it's conceivable that advertisers could sponsor Local Lenses that engage people with their branding in settings such as live events, which mostly have been put on hold during the pandemic.
Snapchat's City Painter demonstration in London required significant preparation to let people paint the landscape from any angle, including the gathering of visual data from a variety of sources, Wired reported. In creating or sponsoring a Local Lens, marketers would have to consider the scale and duration of the project. As with Snapchat's other location-based services, such as its On-Demand Geofilters that people can create for special events like weddings and parties, the cost of hosting Local Lens content is likely to vary by the size of the geofenced area and the duration of its availability to Snapchat users.
For Snap, the rollout of Local Lenses is another sign of the importance of AR content in engaging app users. The company has said that creators have used Lens Studio, its web-based tool for developing AR experiences, to make more than 1 million lenses for others to use in their messages and stories. An average of more than 180 million Snapchat users played with AR content each day in Q2, or about 75% of its daily users, according to information Snap previously shared with Mobile Marketer. With the rollout of Local Lenses, the company is offering another dimension of AR content that's geotargeted, shared and persistent, making it a key tool for engagement that could include branded experiences.
Local Lenses were among the dozens of features that Snap introduced in June at its annual summit for developers, marketers and publishers. Those features included miniature apps that work inside Snapchat and updates to Snap's AR camera, with brands including Nike, Triller and Major League Baseball using the company's Camera Kit to bring Snapchat's augmented reality (AR) features into their apps. The company also introduced SnapML lenses integrated with machine-learning technology and Music Lenses with soundtracks.