Snapchat Releases Sponsored World Lenses, Which Allow Brands to Augment Reality

Snap's turning 3-D graphics into ads

Warner Bros. and Netflix are running sponsored world lenses. Snapchat
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In its ongoing quest to stay ahead of Facebook, Snap is bringing ads to the real world. Last month, Snapchat launched a feature called world lenses that extends the app’s face-swapping filters to objects in the real world. Now, Warner Bros., Netflix and Dunkin’ Donuts are turning those floating 3-D graphics into ads.

According to Snap, a trio of new ad products marks the app’s largest update to its non-vertical video ad products—chiefly lenses and geofilters—since launching the first branded lens with 20th Century Fox in October 2015.

Warner Bros. is running the first sponsored world lens today in a campaign that overlays photos and videos taken with the app’s outward-facing camera with a decal promoting the film Everything, Everything that comes out on Friday. Netflix plans to run a campaign in the following weeks promoting Glow, a 1980s female wrestling comedy. Dunkin’ Donuts and Glidden Paint will also launch similar upcoming campaigns.

Warner Bros. campaign uses 2D technology, but Snap said it will allow advertisers to use its version of augmented reality, 3D technology, as well as objects that users can click on in future campaigns.

Sponsored world lenses build on Snap’s sponsored lenses format. Per Snap, the average user plays with a sponsored lens for 15 seconds before sending it. Big-name brands including Taco Bell, L’Oreal and Starbucks have purchased the custom ads over the past year, which typically take longer to create because advertisers work with Snapchat’s internal creative team to design them. That process is slowly changing though. Snap said that it has cut down the process of creating a sponsored lens globally from eight weeks to six weeks. In some cases, Snap can turn around a sponsored lens in one to three weeks by using existing creative from a previous successful organic lens.

Snapchat is also tweaking the targeting on sponsored lenses in the U.S. Until now, brands have only been able to buy sponsored lenses nationally, meaning that the same ad is served to everyone in the same country. Now U.S. advertisers can target sponsored lenses by age, gender and what content people look at. The ad buy allows advertisers to buy a specific number of impressions, and Red Bull and MTV have both tested the targeting option.

For branded geofilters, Snap is testing an option for advertisers that swaps out the creative with real-time location information. The so-called smart geofilters add the names of locations, cities and ZIP codes to branded geofilters that users apply to their photos and videos.

Snap backs up its new ads pitch with data from its first earnings call last week. The average user spends 30 minutes with Snapchat every day, up from 25 to 30 minutes during the fourth quarter of 2016. Moreover, users create more than a total of three billion Snaps every day and the app’s 166 million daily users open the app an average of 18 times per day.

@laurenjohnson Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.