Snap is making a splash at SXSW, with a new dedicated space on Rainey Street and plenty of speaking engagements. The first-time SXSW sponsor has had appearances in the past, including Snap Bots distributing Spectacles in 2017, but this year represents a bigger commitment for the company.

“We thought it was such an important place because not only do we have important relationships with clients but it’s a great place to come and get inspired, with the startup community and the increasing investment within the awesome community around tech,” said Snap’s global head of creative strategy Jeff Miller.

Digiday spoke with Miller about going big into Snapchat AR and its plans for content in the coming year. This conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.

Several of the SXSW activations have Snapchat AR integrations. Are those organic, or did you reach out to those companies?
Yeah, there’s Amazon “Good Omens,” “Game of Thrones,” “Detective Pikachu” posters using Snapchat lens. The markers are a new capability, and for us, it was intentional because we knew this was something that’s frankly a format that’s been out there before but this was incredibly contextual. If you look at the “Game of Thrones” experience, what we’re doing with that completely adds value. While you’re waiting in line, you’re not just sitting there waiting with 50 other people. You’re actually engaging with the experience.

My favorite one with that is with Daenerys. She actually comes out with the Unsullied, and you have the music behind it, so it’s completely immersive, not just the visual. Hearing that theme song behind it just gives you chills as you’re seeing it. To us, it continues our investment in augmented reality. Everything we do with a Snapchat lens, because we open to the camera, because our community is so ingrained with Snapcodes, understands the behavior of a Snapcode that when you see something like that you don’t even have to educate them. If you see a Snapcode on a poster, there’s no additional call to action needed.

Beyond AR, have you had other partnerships at SX?
Our biggest is in AR, but you’ll see some stuff on the content side, but creatively speaking, we’re really focused outside of SX on everything related to scaling our business and driving ROI. Especially in my role in leading creative strategy and business marketing, our message that we’re trying to deliver to advertisers really clearly is, of course, you can do things on Snapchat that are leading the way in terms of engagement and innovation, but we’re really at this point in our business where we’re able to scale with our audience and drive really outsized ROI. Just a couple clear indications of that: our Commercials product, six-second, un-skippable, we’re able to deliver under 2 cents of effective cost per completed view. That’s full-screen. That’s sound on. That’s what we need to do a better job of telling our story about. People don’t think of Snapchat for that type of ROI or that type of scale.

So Snapchat isn’t just for cool AR?
The best advertisers are the ones who are using all of the [ad] formats. They’re using AR that they know are going to engage our community, but then they’re using that to build a relationship that they can then follow up with ads that are more down-funnel.

I know you have your partner summit coming up. Is there anything else you can tell about at Snapchat that you’re excited for this year?
One is what we’re doing on the content side. I believe Snapchat develops the best in-mobile content, and we’re getting crazy engagement with our entire community. They go in there, and they just understand that we’re building something that’s specific to the mobile device and content that’s specifically for the mobile generation. I’m excited about how we’re scaling that globally, localizing for specific markets, thinking about different sub-genres under our Snap Originals brand and then what we’re doing with partners.

On the business side, what I’m most excited for is our intentional focus on how we’re building brands, brands of all scale, not just thinking about how we’re doing things that are routed in novelty, but if we’re sitting down with whether it’s P&G or Warner Brothers or Coca-Cola, all the way down to local, small business, how do we add value, and how do we measure that at scale? That to me is the biggest transformation to Snapchat moving forward: We’re actually focused on scalable ROI for advertisers of all sizes. The way we add more advertisers into the system is, we prove out we’re a valuable partner for them.

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