Snapchat Introduces DIY Augmented Reality Tool for Brands

Advertisers can customize Lens Web Builder with logos, images

snapchat lens builder
The branded lenses can be applied to new AR-based ad campaigns or Snap's unskippable six-second Extended Play Commercials. Snapchat
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Key insight:

Snapchat has introduced a new ad product that allows brands to create augmented reality lenses through the platform’s Ads Manager.

Snapchat is touting the product, which launched today and is called the Lens Web Builder, as the “industry’s first web-based AR lens ad production tool.”

Brands and other advertisers can choose from various 3D objects, animations and effects, then add their logo or other images to the filter. As a demonstration—or to suck up to us here at Adweek—Snap sent a GIF of a lens with the Adweek logo in it. 

The company said in a statement that the move is “part of Snap’s larger investment in making high-quality, vertical Snapchat ads easy and accessible for any company.” The branded lenses can be applied to new AR-based ad campaigns or Snap’s unskippable six-second Extended Play Commercials.

“Lens Web Builder is a major step on our path towards making high-quality AR advertising accessible and impactful for any business, without needing the budget to hire professional designers,” said Kaitlin McGirl, Snap’s director of U.S. creative strategy, in a statement. “By democratizing access to AR, we’re giving advertisers greater opportunities to connect with our audience in meaningful ways. We can’t wait to see what they build.”

Barry Lowenthal, CEO of media planning and buying agency The Media Kitchen, said his agency and clients are interested in the new product. “Every client has an innovation itch, and Snap has provided some of the best camera-related features in the industry—in fact in many cases they’ve been leading the industry,” Lowenthal told Adweek. “A DIY lens builder is something we’re excited to get our hands on.”

Previously, AR lenses were bought on a reservation basis, and directly through a sales rep. But over the last year or so, advertisers have been able to go through the self-serve Ads Manager, though that required having a creative asset all ready to go.

Lens Web Builder lets companies build their own AR and now can be bought through programmatic auctions instead of a flat fee.

Recently, Disney’s cable channel Freeform promoted its new show Motherland: Fort Salem with a custom lens, and fast food chain Jack in the Box teamed up with Paramount Pictures to do the same around the release of the film Sonic the Hedgehog. And, for Valentine’s Day, Papa John’s rolled out an AR lens where users could put themselves on a Valentine’s card with heart-shaped pizzas around it—and could order a pizza from within the app.

In a statement, Snap indicated that the tool will be distinct from the Lens Studio, which is intended for more technical 3-D developers. 

According to Snap, more than 75% of its users engage with augmented reality on the platform daily.

@ScottNover Scott Nover is a platforms reporter at Adweek, covering social media companies and their influence.