Snap AR: Redefining Visual Experiences and its AR based revenue model

Snap, a mobile-first application is the brainchild of Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy, and Reggie Brown started in 2011. The brand proudly identifies itself as a camera lens company. It has surged in popularity to become one of the most sought-after applications amongst teens and GenZ. Unlike Facebook, Instagram or X, formerly known as Twitter, Snapchat does not record or broadcast everything a user does. Snap messages have time-limited accessibility, something that teens and GenZ find captivating.

Snap platform is a simple way to share everyday moments that disappear within a said time. It isn’t simply about connecting with friends, it offers a diverse range of engaging features like games, news, quizzes, and entertainment. However, what truly sets it apart is its Augmented Reality (AR) technology integration into its camera lens. It’s this innovative tool for photo and video editing that has helped Snap carve out its own niche in the ever-evolving digital landscape.

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Snap AR

In 2015, the brand launched its most successful and innovative feature- Snap AR. This began with the launch of ‘Lenses’ in 2015. Lenses aimed to allow users to apply real-time visual effects and filters to their pictures, especially selfies. This would transform their appearances into playful characters and other creative ways. This feature quickly became a huge hit in the digital world, so much so that it gained the attention of Mark Zuckerberg.

Pushing the boundaries of technological innovations, Snap’s notable achievement is Snap AR. It is a groundbreaking technology that has redefined visual content. They bring to the users a world of immersive and interactive visual experiences. The brand leverages the power of AR to overlay digital objects, animation, and information onto the real world to be seen through one’s smartphone camera lens. The amalgamation of virtual and physical realms brings an additional layer of interactivity to the real-world surroundings.

The modes in which Snap uses AR to transform visual experiences are:

a. AR Filters/ Lenses

These lenses are filters made available to users to transform their appearances. These range from faces of animals, and mythical creatures to our beloved movie or television characters. These lenses proved to be one of the most revenue-generating features for the brand.

b. Geo filters/ Landmarkers

Another key revenue-generating and one of the most successful AR features of the application is its Geo-filters. Making use of AR to bring certain locations and iconic landmarks to life, allowing users to interact with landmarks in a playful manner. These have been applied to places like Gateway of India, Mumbai to the Eiffel Tower, Paris. Many brands have partnered with Snap to build Geo-filters for their launches to enhance their product experiences for the users.

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c. Digital shopping via AR

When it comes to enhancing retail experiences, Snap has become a leader in bringing AR shopping to users. It helps brands build digital spaces where users can try on virtual clothing and accessories before they make a final purchase.

Making use of these three Snap not only brings new styles of entertainment to the users but also helps the brands to use these as a powerful marketing tool. Which brings us to how Snap utilized this opportunity to turn it into a powerful revenue model.

Snap’s AR-based revenue model

The appeal of Snap’s AR lies in its ability to be versatile. Brands understand the allure of engagement with diverse AR experiences that offer from playful filters to location-specific AR games. Eager to engage with Snap fast growing and vast user base, brands have formed many AR campaigns with Snap. These revenue-generating campaigns range from:
– Snap AR ads,
– Sponsored Lenses, and
– Sponsored Filters
to help brands form successful digital marketing campaigns. These have been strategized to be entirely online or offline with geo-filters.

Collaboration with Snap and other brands for AR campaigns operates on a revenue model that benefits both Snap and its partners. Here’s how:

a. Cost per Impression

Brands advertising pay based on the number of impressions, also known as views, received on their ads. This engagement metrics revenue is often tied to the number of interactions, shares, and views.

b. Cost per Click

This feature for advertisers uses pay based on the number of clicks that are received by a specific ad.

c. Sponsored filters/ geo-filters

One of the most used features by entertainment and retail brands is when brands pay Snapchat to create customized AR experiences. Like Sony, Universal, and Netflix do many times for their latest entertainment series launch.

How brands are investing in Snap AR campaigns:

Snap’s ability to offer curated, memorable, and shareable experiences attracts a variety of brands. Several brands across retail, luxury fashion, and entertainment sectors are making use of Snap’s AR tool to connect with their target audiences effectively. Snap’s AR campaigns are interactive and immersive in nature which aids in driving user engagement. It has become an effective tool for brands to increase brand awareness and enhance their customer loyalty.

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a. In Entertainment

Sony, Universal Studios, and Netflix are some examples of brands that use Snap AR to promote their series or movies.

Sony’s Morbius

Prior to the release of Morbius, the team at Sony had a challenge to introduce the obscure Marvel superhero to the audiences. They teamed up with Snapchat to create an AR lens for a Dr. Micheal Morbius character allowing Snapchatters to turn into the character. It was detailed to bring out the signature baritone and mimic Morbius’ echolocation powers.

As per a report by Business Insider, Snap’s user base is particularly passionate about entertainment filters. They mentioned that basis an NRG report, Snapchatters were 1.7x more likely than people who don’t use the app to see a movie in theatres. Snap mentioned that 200 million people engaged with AR on its platform each day. In 2021 brands that use theatrical campaigns utilized Snap’s AR lenses in addition to the video ads saw an average 32% incremental reach.

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Stranger Things x Snap

To offer the Snap audience a peek into the world of Stranger Things, both brands worked to design a new AR filter. This filter acted as a portal to the ‘upside down’. This unique lens could be opened with a unique Snapcode or via Shazam. This allows Snap users and Stranger Things fans to step into the show’s eerie world with AR lenses.

b. In Retail

Snap AR helps to drive purchase intent for brands. Let’s take Nike as an example.


The Nike x Snap partnership allowed users to virtually try on Nike sneakers, an exclusive range. This helped Nike in user engagement and driving sales. Users were linked to the purchase page directly from Snap’s AR try-on feature.

Other successful AR virtual try-on campaigns have been run for brands like Gucci, Maybelline and L’Oreal. In the F&B and fast-moving products category, brands like Oreo and Taco Bell have utilized AR filters to interact with users on festive occasions to reinforce their brand connection with the audience.

Snap’s AR stream is one of its significant revenue streams that is enhancing the digital marketing landscape. This dynamic platform engages brands, artists, and influencers to build interactive content with Snap and secure a large user engagement driving sales.

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