Snap Inc. wants to be the de facto camera company by taking the camera out of people’s hands and creating a frictionless portal into everyday life.
The company unveiled its first hardware product, Spectacles, the Friday before Advertising Week. Days later, Snap’s chief strategy officer, Imran Khan, took the stage at the event to pitch advertisers the new techy sunglasses.
Now that Snap is on track to normalizing the behavior of using a wearable that sits in front of your eyes, the company is teasing out plans to bring advertisers into the augmented world in front of Spectacles-sporting consumers.
Khan explained how brands can move beyond Snapchat’s previous focus on vertical-oriented video and use Spectacles to shoot circular-shaped video. There’s been good reporting on how this reshapes advertisers’ thinking on ways to leverage Snapchat videos, giving brands new ways to create video that are both vertical and horizontal.
But it’s not brands behind Spectacles shooting their own videos that offers the most upside to advertisers, but rather brands cleverly and natively inserting themselves throughout the physical-augmented world in front of people.
Snap just cracked the nut on an entirely new physical-meets-augmented world advertising market. Once you point the Spectacles at the lettering on its protective case, a filter unlocks and shows floating bubbles of snaps. Now, imagine the possibilities and future implications of Snap hardware in augmented reality (AR).
It’s not difficult to imagine the implications on sporting events and concerts alone given Snap’s event geofilters prevalence. For example, the NFL could upsell its advertising partners to sponsor special geofilters in-stadium for fans. A fan could shoot videos at a game with his Spectacles and unlock a filter that shares all the concurrent Snaps being taken by fellow fans in-stadium, all made possible by Budweiser, Samsung or you name it.
The path Snap is on offers plenty of advertising upside, but this comes with incredible technological challenges. Spectacles will help to propel the advertising industry toward unlocking creative opportunities that are no longer stuck inside the box of a typical ad unit — whether that be video or display.
To enable creative freedom in AR (and virtual reality) brand storytelling, flexible technical infrastructure — using asset bundle architecture or otherwise — needs to be standardized to allow for native ad experiences in the real and virtual worlds.
As the ad tech industry catches up to Snap, there will be exciting ways to also dynamically, and perhaps programmatically, insert subtle native ads that have contextual relevance to the augmented world in front of Spectacles-sporting users on their mobile devices, and later in true AR hardware.
One step at a time, of course. For now, Snap can rest easy knowing it succeeded where Google Glass failed. The Los Angeles-based soon-to-IPO tech giant has successfully made it cool for people to wear eyewear with tech embedded in it.
Welcome to the future of AR advertising.