Advertising on Snapchat has always been a bit mysterious and gated-off, especially if you were a small business looking to get a special Geofilter or Lens.
If that describes you, then the release of Snapchat’s new self-serve ads manager, coming in the wake of the company’s IPO, is sure to excite you.
In our earlier post “The Ultimate Guide to Snapchat Marketing,” we examined the best practices and features for story-based Snapchat marketing.
Here, we’ll be taking a closer look at the world of sponsored filters and lenses.
We’ll discuss the design process, use cases, and successful examples of each type of Snapchat filter and lens, and make sure you have all the info you need for a successful campaign.
Why use Snapchat Filters + Lenses?
Since their debut in the world of Snapchat Advertising (in 2014 and 2015), sponsored Geofilters and Face Lenses have been so seamlessly integrated into the app experience that they’ve in many ways become Snapchat’s killer feature. The resulting millennial user base and high daily engagement in the app have transformed it into an amazing marketing platform. In fact, AdWeek reports that users send more than 3 billions of snaps a day, with the average user spending around 30 minutes a day in the app.
But at the end of the day, the most compelling reason to use them is simply that they’re fun. Brands have the opportunity to explore a more irreverent side of their image, while users can experiment and play with a brand’s image, quite literally.
As Jason Stein, CEO of Laundry Service states:
“It’s funny because you don’t think of a goofy taco face as a premium ad buy; you’d probably think of a beautiful HD video. But they’re really fun and I don’t think you can point to many types of ads and say ‘wow, I had a fun time with that ad.’ And in having fun, people are becoming brand ambassadors for you, sending it to all their friends with your brand on their face.”
With Snapchat lenses and filters, not only do users get to engage with your brand, the effect of this engagement is multiplied by social sharing, significantly increasing your organic reach.
Snapchat is also a key way to generate brand awareness. You might want to let a younger audience know more about what your company does and appeal to their interests, even if it’s an abstract corporate brand. Even if Snapchat users aren’t necessarily your target audience, the multiplier effect of social sharing can help you organically reach your desired audience, whether they be investors or consumers.
One of the best examples of this is General Electric’s 2015 Geofilter campaign at airports and train stations nationwide during the holidays.
With over 4.7 million people using the filter and informing their friends and family of their travels, users were able to learn about GE’s overlooked contributions to transportation infrastructure. While this might seem like a dry topic to pursue in the name of brand awareness, Snapchat made sharing their travels fun and informative to others.
Whether you’re a new brand trying to increase awareness among millennials, or a well-established brand trying to promote a new product, Snapchat filters and lenses are essential tools to get users to actively experience and interact with your brand.
How do you use Snapchat Filters and Lenses?
There’s a huge variety of sponsored filter and lens options on Snapchat, so it can be hard to figure out what format works best for your brand’s needs. There’s a broad variation in cost, planning, and design commitments across each format, ranging from two weeks for a Geofilter to up to 8 weeks of planning for a Face Lens, so it is important to weigh each format carefully.
Sponsored Geofilters are in many ways the easiest option to pursue: They require significantly less development time, and are suitable for businesses at any scale. They also get great results, like this RetailMeNot filter which was activated at 3,000 shopping malls across the United States on Black Friday. It reached 11 million Snapchatters and garnered over 20 million views.
But even within the category of Geofilters, there’s plenty of diversity. Here’s what you need to know:
Types of Geofilters:
- Shared Spaces (in high traffic social spaces)
- Chain (Retail)
- National (national awareness days, holidays, movies etc)
Snapchat’s Sponsored Geofilter Specifications note that:
- You can create your own design or work with a template.
- The design must adhere to Snapchat’s Advertising Guidelines
- The final design for your Geofilter is due 15 days prior to launch, and the final file is due 5 days prior.
- The final design must be a PNG asset with a transparent background.
- The file size must be 250kb or less.
- The resolution must be 1080px X 1920px.
- Pricing is dependent on geographic scope and campaign duration.
Ever since face lenses debuted on Snapchat in 2015, they’ve become an iconic part of the platform, even in spite of Facebook and Instagram’s aggressive attempts to co-op the feature. Face Lenses can be astoundingly effective—AdWeek reports that Taco Bell’s 2016 Cinco De Mayo filter garnered over 224 Million views, with the average user spending over 24 seconds with it.
Face lenses are loaded with viral potential. However, given the complexities of face tracking, animation, and 3D modeling, developing Face Lenses requires significantly more commitment and engagement with the Snapchat team than developing Geofilters. In fact, Snapchat details the following 8+ Week Development Timeline:
Additionally, Snapchat’s Sponsored Face Lens Specifications note that a brand must also provide:
- A High-resolution, transparent .PNG of logo
- A High-resolution layered .PSD files for any static images that brand wishes to appear in the Lens
- For 2D Lens: High-resolution .PSD file of any specific 2D models that will be appended to the face or frame in the Lens
- For 3D Lens: 3D Max or Maya file of 3D models that will be appended to the face/head /frame in the Lens
- Audio: .mp3 or .wav file
All of these specifications make it clear that Snapchat Face Lenses require significant planning and commitment, so Face Lenses are really only suitable for large companies with large budgets and broad appeal. But even with these barriers to entry, these lenses are powerful tools to experiment with your brand’s voice. The payoff is great —you’re able to dabble into audiences that might not otherwise have the opportunity to engage with your brand.
Developing out of the smashing success of Face Lenses, Snapchat has recently introduced World Lenses.
Using augmented reality, World Lenses enable users to explore their surroundings immersed with animations and location tracking. Although initially not used for sponsored ads, Snapchat is slowly phasing in sponsored World Lenses, with its first debuting in May 2017 for Warner Brothers’ Everything Everything film.
Snapchat has announced that brands like Netflix, Dunkin Donuts, and Glidden Paint are slated to experiment with the World Lens platform in the coming weeks.
Since this is an early-stage platform, Snapchat has not yet come out with specifications or a development timeline for other brands interested. It does seem likely that World Lenses will be an add-on option for those pursuing Face Lenses, since many non-sponsored lenses combine both features.
Campaign Live reports that once the platform is fully fleshed out, there will be 4 different types of World Lenses:
- Floating 2D or 3D objects – such as adding an object to the AR landscape
- Action-based – triggered when consumers look at or tap an AR object
- Environmental – floating lights or ambiance, for example
- Interaction – such as the organic ‘Princess’ game in Snapchat
This is an exciting new platform, and it’s clear that Snapchat wants to continue working with brands and innovating to create new forms of engagement for its audience.
Which format is best for you?
With such an open-ended platform, it can be difficult to decide what approach your brand should take in a Snapchat campaign.
You could pursue a quirky and irreverent tone, or you could try out something more serious and product oriented.
There aren’t any wrong answers, but considering a few of these use cases will help you discover what approaches fit best for you.
As we’ve mentioned, World and Face Lenses are only feasible for large organizations, given the complicated development process and the high cost of the campaign. But even within these limitations, there’s a wealth of possibilities.
Consider Benefit Cosmetics’s Snapchat filter, which was used over 38 million times. Instead of simply looking to enhance brand awareness, Benefit used Snapchat to do a product demo of their new brow collection. Even if you’re a smaller brand, if you think Snapchat can provide a breakthrough product demo, it could be worth pursuing.
Brands should be careful to stick to their message when using Lenses.
You should critically examine if appearance altering filters could cause offense. Snapchat has taken a lot of criticism for approving Lenses that in many regards amount to blackface, so do your due diligence and embrace a respectful and engaged tone with your audience.
For Geofilters, consider using them if you’d like a pursue a hyperlocal approach that lets customers organically document their own experience. While they may not be as technically impressive as Snapchat lenses, they are much easier to implement and offer limitless customization possibilities.
Taco Bell has used Geofilters to highlight new menu items, allowing users to document their experiences and emphasize the brand’s location in their community.
The reach of this Geofilter may not be as huge as Taco Bell’s massive success with Snapchat Lenses, but there’s something to be said for creating a digital extension of a brand’s local presence.
Instead of applying a single Geofilter across all locations, consider customizing them to reflect the local culture or aesthetic. Pursuing this approach helps transform what might be an uninspired advertisement into an endearing easter egg or postcard.
These are all general use cases that can help you approach the most effective Snapchat promotion strategy. Of course, with such an open platform, you should embrace experimentation and find new ways to delight your audience. But most importantly, remember to execute a strategy that is aligned with the scale of your company.
Embrace Your Brand’s Voice
With so many options, Snapchat might seem overwhelming, or perhaps not worth the effort it takes to create a 3D filter. But with inbuilt viral potential, access to a young millennial audience that is otherwise hard to access, and the opportunity to discover a new side of your brand’s voice, Snapchat is clearly a marketing platform worth pursuing.
Even if Snapchat isn’t something that fits in your broader marketing campaigns, you can still learn a great deal about audience response and hyperlocal marketing. It’s a sandbox that lets you merge art, play, and brand representation, all while centering the experience around your audience.
Nowhere else on social media are you able to blend an immersive brand experience with organic sharing, nor work with a high-touch creative team as an integral part of the ad design process.
Snapchat is irreverent and young, yes, but it is also defined by the fleeting nature of its experiences. By pursuing limited time Lenses and geographically specific Filters, your brand creates unique memories for your audience. Once you let these platform strengths guide your planning, you’ll be sure to score a win for your brand on Snapchat.