Snapchat Launches Voice Recognition Lenses

Snapchat continues to push the AR boundaries by launching a new lense that can recognize simple voice commands. In the past, lenses could react to users opening their mouth or raising their eyebrows. Now, basic English words will have the same effect. Simply saying “love” will cue jazz music while saying “yes” causes the camera to zoom. Other words like “hi”, “no” and “wow” come with their own animations. Users can expect to see five to six more lenses added to the rotation throughout the week.

While Facebook has the advantage of owning other key apps like Instagram and Messenger, Snapchat continues to use camera technology as their strength. Users have already seen visually stimulating updates with the sky changing lenses and selfie games. Snapchat Inc. has noted it is possible to combine these features but has not made any specific announcement for the future.

Implications

Social media marketers should be on the lookout, as this voice recognition lense may be open to advertisers soon. Snapchat is proving to be an essential platform for connecting with teens and the growing, older audience. The emphasis on interactive content has helped keep users engaged which is crucial when it comes to brand messaging. While users may still choose Facebook and Instagram to view content from creators, Snapchat is enabling the creation of content. Brands that can find a way into that creative process, potentially through these new lenses, will be at the center of users’ messages.

The Evolution of The Camera

Computing is quickly moving from the small screen in our hands, to the world around us. The camera, and advanced AI algorithms behind it, are driving this shift.

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‘The Evolution of The Camera’ dives into the trends and use cases that we see today revolving around three key areas.

Communicate: How the camera has changed the paradigm of communication and virtual presence.

Enhance: How computer vision and AI can play a role in digital engagement and what that means for consumers.

Augment: How AR is enabling new experiences and utility through the camera.

 

AR Lands in the News Feed

Facebook and Instagram have made tremendous strides to bring AR functionality into their platforms in 2018. This years’ F8 saw the announcement of AR within Messenger – proving useful for product launches and demonstrations. We were also given advanced AR capabilities within Instagram’s camera and the ability for third party developers to easily create them.

This week, they’ve added another tool to their arsenal in the form of a news feed ad product. Users will begin seeing ads that feature a “Tap to try it on” option, which would then bring them into an AR experience. The goal is to bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds and allow consumers to “try before they buy”. Of course, commerce is the end goal of these experiences, and an easy path to purchase is included post use.

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Michael Kors was the first brand to test out these new ad products but look for more similar brands to jump into the testing grounds soon enough. AR, while still in its infancy has become almost a necessity for cosmetic brands and high end retailers. For Facebook, giving these companies an avenue to push their product in this format to highly qualified customers should prove to be profitable for both the advertiser as well as the tech behemoth.

Implications

As the hardware needed to invoke high end AR experiences gets into the hands of more and more users, brands will begin to see the benefits that augmented reality experiences can have on their bottom line. Consumers will come to expect the ability to visualize products in their own environments while they move along their decision journey and brands will need to get creative in how they push these experiences.

Marketers should be extremely excited about the prospect of these new ad buys and those in the clothing, accessories and cosmetics space should be pushing for this functionality within their companies. What’s even better is that with AR, there’s some economies of scale that can occur. Developing an augmented reality experience that’s invoked through a news feed ad can also be triggered within Messenger, as an Instagram/Snapchat filter as well as through their own app.

The ability to allow consumer the freedom to customize and view your products in their own world will soon lead to a paradigm shift in how commerce decisions are made. Now’s the time to ensure your brand is set up for the future.

Project Eagle Snaps into Place

Over 200 million users open up Snapchat every day to take selfies, play games, share their surroundings and augment their world. For many, it’s how they see the world, and how the rest of the world sees them. Soon enough, commerce will make its way into that equation as well. Via TechCrunch, a secret project codenamed “Eagle”, has shown up in in the code of Snapchat’s Android app and focuses primarily on visual search including a partnership with Amazon.

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We’re not entirely sure how the service will eventually work, but one can imagine that through the camera, users will be shown context specific information about their surroundings. Think Googles Lens but through social media.

This is a big step for Snapchat, which markets itself as a camera company, and could allow them to bring in revenue through additional sources. There’s sure to be some sort of affiliate deal in place with Amazon as well as updated advertising products to take advantage of these new capabilities.

What this also does is enhance the future functionality of Snap’s Spectacles. As the general public slowly but surely tosses aside their mobile phones for some sort of eyewear or visual product – the company in control will have an enormous opportunity to profit off of users surroundings. By integrating visual search into mobile cameras of today, Snap is setting itself up to be the Augmented Reality leader of tomorrow.

Implications

The mobile camera is the window into a users world. As hardware has evolved and gotten cheaper, the software that runs on it has paved the way for frictionless experiences to occur. That’s exactly what Snap is attempting to accomplish here. A frictionless shopping experience that’s triggered by what users see in the real world, what a friend sends them, or what they view on the platform within other channels.

For brands and marketers, it will be important to keep an eye on this feature to determine how best to set their products (or services for that matter) up for success. Snap’s Context Cards, which show information on businesses, allow for restaurant reservations, ride-sharing and more will likely become an increasingly important vehicle for engagement as commerce is brought into the picture.

As is the case with popular Snapchat innovations, be on the lookout for a similar Instagram clone in the coming months.

From Feeds to Stories

In its essence, social media is merely a window into someone else’s life – their hobbies, adventures, beliefs, friends and family. Over the past decade, social media companies have worked to expand that window as much as possible, giving users a more holistic view. What we’ve landed on, thanks in part to Snapchat, is the story feature – a comprehensive view of an individuals or businesses life at all points in time.tumblr_inline_p8didlS0u71uk4gsu_540.jpg

Since 2016, the creation and consumption of stories is up 842 percent, according to consulting firm Block Party. This is due in part to a broader movement of turning the camera into a platform, a trend we’ve been following for quite a while now. The camera is an entry point into a users virtual world and advancements in technology have allowed us to empower consumers with tools to better capture, create and share that world.

Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook are all heavily invested in Augmented Reality tools, allowing people to enhance their experiences, aid in commerce, entertain and inform. We’re also slowly seeing the integration of more and more real-time data into these experiences, enabling more live sharing and contextual content creation.

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Instagram recently announced third party integration support for stories, allowing users on Spotify and GoPro to quickly share a song or video footage. While currently constrained to those two partners, we’re sure to see more services jump on, which will eventually give users an even easier way to post what they’re currently doing to their stories. In time, trend setting Millenials may not even have to take a picture of their Insta worthy brunch – they’ll simply press a button on their table, and it’s uploaded for them.

Implications

All the major social media companies have ad products designed specifically for stories, and if that’s where the majority of eyeballs are at, it’s also where your product or service should be. However, integrating with stories is not simply about disrupting a consumers content reel, but rather providing them with a value that can help to enhance what they’re currently doing. Are you giving them tools to create? Offering compelling content to consume? Or are you simply asking them to swipe up to unlock a special offer?

The augmented reality tools available for marketers to create content for these platforms offer a new way to interact with consumers. We’re currently undergoing a shift in media consumption, it’s no longer about simply pushing content, but rather enabling creativity for the end user. Brands that are able to provide consumers with experiences that empower them to create and share will end up seeing longer engagement and more return visitors, than those who simply aim for passive viewing.

Additionally, and even more importantly, how are you telling your own story? Your brands Instagram and Snapchat feed may be the one place that you can confidently reach millions of consumers at all points in time with a consistent message. It’s incredibly important to ensure that message is relevant, timely, and paints a picture of how you want your brand perceived. It’s always best to answer these questions with the end consumer in mind, and how you’re providing value to them.

Snap’s New Offerings Lead to a Shared Augmented Reality

This was a big week for Snap, as three new product offerings hit the market.

• Shoppable AR – A new media product that allows for seamless transition from discovery to purchase.
• Snappable Games – A new way for users to interact on the app.
• Spectacles V2 – A new way for users to create and upload content to the app.

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But what does it all mean?

Snap wants to brand itself as a camera company, but that’s still not entirely true. Sure, Spectacles have cameras on them, and they sell them as hardware, but they’re still not a camera company. They’re a social media platform that heavily utilizes cameras.

Which is great, because the camera is rapidly becoming the next home screen. It’s the first thing you see when you open the app and it’s the window into the virtual world that Snap is iteratively building. Shoppable AR and Snappable Games bring a new form factor to this virtual world. It’s a step up to the augmented art installations that were made popular late last year.

Those virtual works of art brought people together in AR. Now, brands are able to bring consumers together through their products, and games will bring users together through competition and network effects. If there’s one thing that’s for sure, it’s that users will certainly get competitive with their high scores. (Eyebrow controlled Galaga anyone?)

Spectacles V2 are a slight upgrade to its predecessor, but nothing game changing. You can take pictures now and they feel a bit slimmer – cool. What’s really going on is that Snap is getting the general public comfortable with wearing a camera on their face. The biggest update to these glasses is actually something they took away, and that’s the yellow ring around the camera. While there’s still a white LED light that turns on when recording, it’s much less noticeable. It will be interesting to see if there’s any consumer push back around this slightly more clandestine approach to capturing images and photos.

Industry pundits have long argued that socially acceptable AR glasses are going to be a game changer in many areas, but those aren’t going to be here for another 5-10 years. Until then, Snap’s taking the long approach. They’re creating the building blocks for users to hangout in an augmented world.

While this may occur through our smartphones now, that same interaction will feel eerily personal in the next decade.

Implications

If Snap is laying the groundwork for a shared augmented world, then brands need to be able to sell in that world as well. Today’s Shoppable AR products are a perfect foray into this space, as you’re able to create compelling 3D animations of your product or event, and use that as a testing ground for how users interact with them.

When you look at it from a big picture standpoint, it’s all about reducing the friction from discovery to purchase and allowing consumers to get a feel for your product or brand before they have to open up their wallets. By doing so, you’ll make the latter part of that equation a lot less stressful for them.