Snap unveiled its second official application to help advertisers and everyday Snapchat users create their own augmented reality (AR) lenses that overlay digital images on real backgrounds seen through a smartphone camera, per a blog post. Snap’s Lens Studio is free to download for Mac and Windows desktop computers.
Snap said 70 million Snapchat users a day interact with Lenses, which before the introduction of Lens Studio were all developed by the company’s internal creative agency. Ad campaigns that include Lenses see a 19-point lift in ad awareness and a 9% gain in sales, Snap said. The average Lens user spends three minutes a day trying on new selfies and exploring AR experiences in the world around them.
Snap also announced seven AR development agencies as Lens Studio Partners to help create “world lenses” for the rear-facing camera and selfie “face lenses”: Avatar Labs, Fishermen Labs, Haus, Media Monks, North Kingdom, Trigger and VidMob. While selfie lenses can only be built by Snapchat or its partners, any advertiser or non-partnered agency can use Lens Studio to develop world lenses to create 2D and 3D objects.
Snap’s introduction of Lens Studio is part of the company’s strategy to make Snapchat the go-to app for fun AR experiences as rivals introduce their own development platforms. Snap was an early adopter of AR technology with its various lenses, masks and filters that have been a popular feature among users who want to decorate their photos and videos before sharing them with friends and followers. The company has created more than 3,000 lenses, while users have created 95% of Snapchat’s geofilters for neighborhoods and cities throughout the world, the Verge reported.
Snap has an opportunity to grow its advertiser base by giving agencies the tools to create lenses, which before were limited to the company’s internal agency, Team Snapchat. After users create an effect, Lens Studio generates a unique Snapcode and link that will open with a smartphone tap in Snapchat for 24 hours. The Snapcode can be unlocked multiple times throughout the following year. Snap doesn’t have a formal approval process to post lenses, which must adhere to company guidelines.
Snap is introducing Lens Studio the same week that Facebook opened up its AR platform to developers. Apple earlier this year rolled out ARKit for developers as the company released its latest mobile operating system, iOS 11, to support the technology. Google followed with ARCore for Android developers.