Snap Inc. just opened up a new augmented reality studio that allows anyone create Snapchat lenses, plus new services for advertisers.
Released late last week, the new Lens Studio aims to make AR lenses easier by offering templates and guides for all types of creators, from consumers to 2-D designers, 3-D modelers and animators. Created by the Camera Platform team, the tools come courtesy of a downloadable desktop program for Windows and Mac computers.
The goal of the new studio is to make augmented reality more accessible and diverse. Individuals or companies will be able to use the studio to create Snapchat World Lenses — a layer of 2-D or 3-D objects over the live view of the world, as seen through smartphones’ rear-facing cameras. Creators can make their Snapchat Lenses available by distributing Snapcodes or generating deep links within the Lens Studio.
Studio users can also use the new “My Lenses” management portal within the studio to organize their projects and associated Snapcodes and view metrics, like views and uses.
“The team spent a lot of time building templates in Lens Studio to empower creators with a range of skill levels to provide an experience that makes creation simple but still powerful,” said a Snap Inc. spokeswoman. “In essentially three steps, designers can build their experience, submit it and then share it with their community to use on Snapchat.”
Snap first rolled out Lenses roughly two years ago, and since then, its team has seen hundreds of million of people engage with its AR, which swells with more than 3,000 Lenses. More than a third of its daily audience plays with Lenses everyday, it said, averaging more than three minutes per day.
Developers looking for more customization also get a new scripting application programming interface. The software tool allows developers to custom code their own Snapchat AR experiences.
Advertisers looking for more specialized help can tap the Lens Studio Partner program. Instead of working directly with Snap for every one-off deal, companies can turn to one of seven partner agencies, which are trained to create face and World Lenses for brands and make them available in the Snapchat app. Advertisers can develop a Lens in as little as a few days. The list of agencies covers Avatar Labs, Fishermen Labs, Haus, Media Monks, North Kingdom, Trigger Global and Vidmob.
To further sweeten the pot, Snap also nixed spending minimums for advertisers and offered audience targeting for lenses.
“The Lens Studio and our Lens Studio partners provide advertisers with more flexibility to develop Lenses on their budget, and on a timeline that works for them,” the company wrote on its business blog. “We’re also increasing the number of Lenses advertisers can create for a single campaign, opening the doors to creative rotations, as well as sustained, ongoing AR campaigns.”
The company pointed out that ad campaigns with Lenses drive a 19-point lift in ad awareness, on average, and a 15 percent increase in purchase intent, according to a Nielsen in-app polling report. As for sales, Nielsen Catalina reported that they sparked a 9 percent sales jump.
The focus on community and advertising should come as no surprise. Snap Inc. has had a tumultuous year, with high expectations over its stock clashing with underperformance, particularly after a disappointing third-quarter earnings report. Now, the company’s looking for ways to keep its audience engaged and growing, while also broadening advertising initiatives to expand its reach.