“Sure as God made green apples, someday, the Chicago Cubs are going to be in the World Series.” — Harry Caray, Chicago Cubs announcer on the final day of the 1991 regular season.
November has shown us the world through some interesting lenses. The Chicago Cubs broke their 108-year-old curse and won the World Series. This week, we elected our 45th President after a campaign season that was anything but traditional. And, as if on cue, to help people see the world in a lens more fitting their desires, Snapchat updated their iOS app with a new filter feature called “World Lenses.”
A quick primer for those who may not be familiar with Snapchat lenses: Snapchat calls their filters “lenses.” Snapchat lenses enable snapchatters to add a variety of cool overlays to their images, face-swap with friends, or turn their face into things like a dog or have a rainbow come pouring out of your mouth, etc.
I’m particularly interested in this update for a few reasons. First, the new lenses continue the market-leading innovation Snapchat has been doing when it comes to cool and fun filters for quite some time. Engagement with filters drives higher user engagement and gives users more opportunities to be creative and express themselves — all helping to drive Snapchat daily active use. DAU is a key measurement in the mobile app space for tracking time spent as well as engagement on their (or any) platform. Second, as with other filters, this new batch ostensibly creates more pathways for brands to offer custom-branded lenses that can drive more engagement with Snapchat’s growing community. Lastly, these lenses are a primer that exposes the Snapchat community to the soon-to-be-released AR (augmented reality) video camera glasses — “Spectacles.”
There are seven new lens options to choose from in the new update. One of the new lens I particularly like is the “snow” lens; it lets you experience an AR environment that feels like you’re inside a snow globe. Perfect timing for the holiday season. Lenses like this are certainly a prelude to Spectacles, since they let you capture and create an AR world around you. While Snapchat hasn’t given a date for the Spectacles release, I bet it’s just around the corner for holiday 2016 shoppers.
As with many of the advanced products or features I often write about, Snapchat lenses are perfect entry points for brands to offer a way to surprise and delight their audiences with unique filters to help them create engaging experiences. Not too dissimilar to how some brands (e.g., Taco Bell, Pepsi) have approached creating unique filters for live events, such as the Super Bowl. The combination of Snapchat Lenses + Spectacles could be a great opportunity, à la Pokémon Go, for brands to create unique AR experiences within a store or venue environment. I can think of several retailers with a buying demographic that fits very well with probable Spectacles users. And as always, now is the time to get in and test before this concept before the herd of brands arrives and drives up prices.