Snapchat Takes On-Target, User-Centric Approach To Generative AI, Expands Premium Offerings

Since OpenAI’s game-changing ChatGPT technology dropped in November, the news has been rife with headlines about generative-AI battles between the tech giants, Microsoft and Google. 

Both companies were early to integrate generative-AI into their platforms. Microsoft committed $13 billion to its partnership with OpenAI, integrating the start-up’s models into Bing, while Google launched Bard and plans to embed AI into its email and word-processing tools, Gmail and Docs. 

As Google and Microsoft work feverishly to automate daily business tasks, profit from their massive AI investments, and scramble to avoid the controversies tied to such applications (such as the potential for undermining the crucial functions journalism plays in our society), another player has gone a different route. 

Snapchat, which has quietly continued to capture the attention and trust of younger users with genuinely user-centric integrations of tech like augmented reality, has now introduced generative AI using that same, nonbombastic approach. 

As we reported in February, Snap introduced “My AI,” a personalized chatbot tool that invites premium subscribers to ask cute, non-offensive questions like “What should I get my best friend for her birthday?” or “Suggest an easy but delicious recipe for dinner,” and receive AI-generated answers. Users can share these automated responses with friends on the app.

The generally positive results have served to highlight how Snap has concentrated on using AI tools to increase users’ interaction with the app and each other, while also expanding their premium offerings and overall subscription model. 

Now, Snapchat is offering more AI-generated content for premium users — including Premium Profile Backgrounds, announced on Monday. 

Premium Snapchatters can now enter a text prompt, such as “astronaut on Mars” or “Eiffel Tower picnic,” and, via generative-AI, Snap will create several related visual profile backgrounds, all showcasing various design styles from which users can choose. 

Marketer Ahmed Ghanem tweeted an example of Snap’s new offering, showing the result of typing “Cairo skyline view” into the new Premium Profile Backgrounds option: Ghanem’s bitmoji standing in front of a Cairo skyline that looks as if it were painted on a canvas (above). 

Over the years, Snapchat has aligned itself with a teen-dominated audience and managed to stay fun, integrating emerging technologies like AR and AI in ways that bypass the drama so often associated with larger players across the competitive, copycat social media landscape. 

Snapchat+ currently has more than 2.5 million paying subscribers. That’s more than all other social media platforms, including Twitter — which has gotten massive press coverage for its Twitter Blue service while remaining unable to attract more than a few hundred thousand subscribers worldwide. Reddit Premium users remain under 400,000, and Meta is just getting started on paid Instagram and Facebook offerings. 

The reason: Snapchat subscribers get more than just exclusivity or a “blue ticks” — they get great graphics and the latest cool design and messaging capabilities as part of a generally enjoyable, rather than confrontational, community experience. (Take that, Elon.)

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