Snapchat’s pitch to marketers: Don’t underestimate AR

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After launching its AR Studio a year ago, Snap is shifting personnel internally to focus on growing its AR business. The company is also hiring additional experts in the space and is pushing its marketers to forge partnerships with additional major-label brands, according to Carolina Arguelles, product marketing lead for Snapchat.

More than 350,000 virtual “experiences” have been created in the past year, said Arguelles, speaking on a panel at The Lead, a New York conference, on Wednesday. Most of these were made by Snapchat users. But brands and retailers have been testing the tool as well, including Nike’s Jordan brand, which sold shoes through the app; BMW, which promoted a new car model; and Amazon, which linked with Snapchat to include Amazon products in visual search results. Adidas, Dominos and Match.com have all run shoppable AR campaigns in the app.

“The camera represents an opportunity to reach your customers,” said Arguelles. “It’s about an opportunity to reach them when their mindset is really attentive. The camera requires action. You’re not just sitting there passively when your camera opens. You’re leaned-in. You’re looking at every corner of that screen.”

Retailers like Ikea, Williams-Sonoma and Sephora have been using AR on their own platforms to drive sales, in the form of virtual furniture showrooms and makeup applications. Snapchat wants to serve as a platform partner for retailers, and plans to expand its AR business to more retailers. Though Arguelles didn’t name specific companies, she said the technology has uses for retailers of all stripes. Snap is exploring several strategies, including selling AR ads, as well as working with retailers to sell products without ever leaving the app.

The Amazon partnership is a play to get more products in front of users when they want to search for them. A user can open up Snapchat wherever they are and take a picture of a product or a barcode, which launches its Amazon product page. The tool complements Amazon’s own in-app visual search tools.

“While the last 10 years have been about something called social media marketing, the next 10 years are going to be about this new thing called ‘camera marketing,’ and this is really about the camera as an ad placement,” said Arguelles.

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