Last week, Snap and Universal Music Group teamed up to expand the catalog of music on the video platform in a multi-year global deal. Snapchat users can use UMG’s entire catalog of recorded music and content in its Sounds and AR Lenses tools.
This is just one of the ways Snapchat has slowly incorporated augmented reality into its camera app. The company said that Snapchat Lenses AR experiences have been in its repertoire since 2015, and that it has introduced features where people can try on products, from shoes to makeup. Brands like Gucci and Sally Hansen use it.
“It’s about adding a fun and entertaining element to your Snaps,” Snap rep Jessica Allen said via email.
According to Snap, some 200 million users engage with their AR daily, and AR activity is increasing, especially during the global pandemic, when more and more people have turned to online shopping.
“We saw live shopping accelerate during COVID-19 when traditional brands had to find creative solutions to reach customers virtually,” said Stephanie Chan, mobile information strategist at Sensor Tower. “Snapchat certainly competes with platforms like TikTok and Instagram to not only grab the attention of retail brands, but also to offer broader feature sets to improve user experience. For Snap, the benefits include growing its ecosystem and generating more user spend and ad revenue.
During last year’s earnings call, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel pointed out that e-commerce advertising is an area of growth: “Some industries… like e-commerce have benefited from some of the changes. COVID-related consumer behavior and have leaned as advertisers. on our platform.
Snap is promoting itself as a camera-centric business. The strategy around AR and other immersive technologies is part of the company’s larger effort to grow its e-commerce business. At its 2021 Partner Summit in May, Snap announced plans for a series of augmented reality-based features that would help the company monetize and diversify.
Compared to other platforms, Snapchat stands out when it comes to using immersive technologies, not least because its app experience centers on filtering and adjusting people’s images.
“Snapchat is the only platform that has made AR the centerpiece of your engagement, right from the start with filters and lenses,” said Debra Aho Williamson, analyst at eMarketer. “It has become a key utility for shopping, like virtual fitting. Does this shade suit me? Does this shoe fit me well? “
Other new features in Snap include wrist tracking technology, which allows people to use AR to try on watches and jewelry, and business profiles that allow brands to promote their posts and AR lenses. Other upcoming changes will allow Snapchat users to try out products and see what they would look like, IRL. Users will also be able to use their voice and gestures to control and navigate through different items, such as saying “next” or waving their hands.
Buying trends seem to confirm that e-commerce will continue to dominate. Last year, eMarketer followed 78.9 million social buyers, or people who bought something directly from a social platform or followed a link to buy at least once a year. By 2023, that number is expected to reach 102.1 million people, according to the company’s projections.
“We really think the pandemic has spurred this trend in online shopping, especially social commerce,” Williamson added.
Much like its social media rivals, the majority of Snap’s revenue comes from its advertising business. And businesses from BuzzFeed to YouTube have also stepped up their ecommerce game lately. In the case of BuzzFeed, its intention to go public is based on estimates of a projected profit of $ 117 million next year which will be primarily driven by e-commerce.
And as is commonly seen in the tech industry, companies tend to follow in each other’s footsteps. After Snapchat rolled out developer tools for its third-party apps in Spotlight, TikTok released a similar feature called Jumps. There are countless other examples when it comes to social media trends, including short videos now widely seen on Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and Facebook.
“As social media platforms continually approach parity in terms of functionality, the winners will ultimately be determined who can deliver the most engaging and relevant user experience to their target consumer,” Chan said.
Last month, Snap said it was tagging 500 million monthly active users, a metric it had not released before. That’s a 22% increase from the previous year, but still a fraction of Facebook’s 2.8 billion monthly users. On the commerce side, Facebook reported some 300 million monthly store visitors and 1.2 million active stores per month.
Facebook is also interested in using immersive technologies, including AR and AI, to improve the shopping experience on its platforms. On Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, users can “visualize” merchandise using augmented reality experiences before purchasing. This year, the company is testing an AI-driven visual search that will allow users to find similar products using images. Facebook also owns Oculus, the virtual reality headset company.
Facebook this month extended its Shops product on WhatsApp and Marketplace, allowing users and businesses to buy and sell on its platforms with Facebook Pay options. As an incentive, Facebook said it will continue to waive fees for professional sellers until June 2022.