Snap overlays AR on the creator economy

Snap is cementing its place in the AR market by working lock-step with creators to build AR lenses with monetizable features.

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The Future. Snap is cementing its place in the AR market by working lock-step with creators to build AR lenses with monetizable features. That’s right, and Snap is ready to make some revenue from the tech that lets you take selfies with dog ears. We kid, but the tech behind those dog ears foretell a huge opportunity for Snap to carve out a unique place in the social media ecosystem… and potentially pave the way for an AR-focused app store that becomes a true moneymaker for the company.

Financial filter
With more than 300,000 developers making AR products for the app, Snap is now turning AR into its new money-making tool.

  • Snap announced this week at Lens Fest that it’s working with creators to create lenses that include buyable digital goods that The Verge describes as things like “in-game items” and “upgraded lens control.”
  • Users could purchase them using Snapchat’s in-app currency, Snap Tokens — a move reminiscent of Roblox’s Robux or Fortnite’s V-Bucks.

But Snap knows this gambit only works if developers are actively building products for the platform, so putting its weight behind it — as it did with its lottery-like Spotlight feature — ensures that the feature can roll out at scale.

And with more than 3 million AR lenses built that have been viewed some 5 trillion (!) times, Snap may get there.

Cut out the copycats
Snap is hitting the AR market hard and fast because it knows, like most of its innovations, any missteps at industry dominance will result in its features getting hijacked by the bigger and richer players. Case in point: disappearing stories, Bitmojis, lenses… Snap makes them; everyone steals them (we don’t have to name names).

And Snap sees both a practical and symbolic window of opportunity.

  • Practically, Meta was hoping to dominate AR, but economic challenges are bringing its moonshot projects back to Earth. Snap wants to get there first.
  • Symbolically, Snap considers itself a camera company, and AR is all about the camera — whether on a smartphone or wearables like its Spectacles (the latest iteration is reportedly promising and may one day be connected to your brain).

With Snap flooding the zone with everything from creative lenses to virtual try-on capabilities to search overlays to interactive map experiences, it may be paving the way for what mainstream AR looks like in the coming decade.

David Vendrell

Born and raised a stone’s-throw away from the Everglades, David left the Florida swamp for the California desert. Over-caffeinated, he stares at his computer too long either writing the TFP newsletter or screenplays. He is repped by Anonymous Content.


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