Its founder is the world’s youngest billionaire and it’s on track to hit $100 million in sales this year, but there’s still money to be made as far as Evan Spiegel’s ephemeral photo and video app is concerned.
Along with introducing a new animated option called “Lenses” last month to let US users pay to replay their selfie snaps with creative filters, sounds and special effects (including overlays to appear aged, demonic, emoji-like or the delightful rainbow vomit option that was since nixed), the disappearing photo/video app quickly hit on the idea to add the creative filter to brands.
Sponsored lenses let advertisers reach its 100 million daily users with ad unit that lets advertisers insert themselves into selfies. Running promos would cost $450,000 for an off-peak day or up to $750,000 a day on Halloween, Thanksgiving or Black Friday for any brand wishing to reach Snapchat’s entire youthful audience, a cohort for whom selfies are second nature.
According to the Financial Times, Hollywood studios promoting movies are jumping at the opportunity. The branded Lense option debuts on Halloween and the slew of upcoming horror flicks is perfect opportunity to plaster a scary, bloody mask on users.
A year ago, the first ad to be inserted in Snapchat also came from a movie studio, with Universal promoting Ouija. Yet Universal learned the hard way, by annoying users by inserting an ad for Ted 2 on Father’s Day, the perils of forcing ads on Snapchat users.
Brands are also paying to imprint Snaps in other ways. W Hotels, the luxury hotel brand owned by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, wants to reach young travelers with a sponsored filter promoting the W Hotel’s US locations, W Montreal and W London.
Three rotating filters appear as a sticker with a “W Hotel” postmark and a choice of three messages (“Current Situation,” “You Wish You Were Here” and “Auto Reply”) to overlay on photos and videos taken at their hotel properties.
“The new filters will allow Snapchat travelers at W hotels to humblebrag like never before,” a press release states, adding that the filters. “are playful, tongue-in-cheek spins on the traditional postcard like ‘You Wish You Were Here.'”
— Marriott Hotels (@Marriott) December 19, 2014
Snapchat’s biggest investment to date is Discover, the media hub inside its app with video clips, news articles, games, quizzes and ads from publishers, publications and broadcast outlets including Vice, Cosmopolitan, Mashable and CNN. Snapchat also claims to serve more than 4 billion daily video views of “Live Stories” from users and content providers, according to Variety.
This latest move is a clear grab for monetization at Snapchat’s very core – making the most of ephemeral narcissism, but Digital Trends point out the obvious challenge: “The only way this plan works is if Snapchat users opt into using the branded lenses. It’s highly possible that users will ignore the lenses and avoid slapping logos or brand mottos on their selfies. The most likely scenario of this actually working among users could be some form of low-key sponsorship, perhaps providing a silly effect, like rainbow-puking, and modifying a corner of the photo with a “Brought to you by brand” message.”
For now, sponsored lenses adds a fourth leg to Snapchat’s revenue platform of Discover, daily story ads and paid replays, as the social messenger for teens monetizes the selfie—for 24 hours, with no permasnaps (as Spiegel spoofed, above, on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert) on the horizon.
And if all else fails, you can always apply the Snapchat Lense directly to your face this Halloween: