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Reality check, by Snapchat’s Vishal Badiani

By Vishal Badiani, creative strategy lead for MENA at Snapchat.

It’s hard to imagine, but Snap goes into 2021 with a positive and optimistic outlook. We’ve seen a clear trend emerge over the last 12 months, upon which this optimism is founded. Images, voice notes and videos help people stay close, much more so than text alone. Our investment in the camera has driven big growth in our community and in their engagement. Last year, on average, 88 per cent of Snapchatters across UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia used AR Lens experiences every single day during Ramadan.

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Brands have started to realise the potential of mobile, social-based AR as a marketing channel. A recent study in the UK by Mindshare proved AR Lens experiences increase ad recall by 70 per cent, and Shopify saw a 200 per cent increase in conversations after adding AR for product visualisation.

The value of a scaled audience that actively seeks out AR experiences, interacts with and shares them, is being understood. Lenses offer brands the chance to add an impactful catalyst to super-charge marketing performance. However, AR is a broad term and can encompass so many different experiences. I’m going to break this down a little and explain how these technologies can help provide your marketing campaigns with a much-needed reality check, especially during Ramadan 2021.

Face recognition

Snapchat has been busy mastering this technology over the last five years and now our lenses are able to detect smiles, blinks, raised eyebrows and even words. Our camera is smart enough to map your face and apply effects and overlays. We have built a number of lens experiences leveraging facial recognition technology for brands to sell face, eye and lip products. Bourjois, Rimmel and Max Factor have all been big believers in this technology, but we’ve also partnered with Lancome, MAC and Nivea. Beyond beauty and skincare, brands like Lurpak, Colgate, Sensodyne and Panadol have also enjoyed great success by pouting this technology at the heart of their campaigns.

Sky segmentation

Most smartphones have a camera that ‘faces’ you and a camera that faces the world. Our Lenses can use either or both camera views to create memorable brand experiences. Sky Segmentation leverages the contrast between the sky and the buildings, allowing us to create for you an animated, 3D billboard that stretches across the stars. We all know how relevant and important traditional out-of-home advertising is in the region, and how these placements are a great way to amplify a campaign. Now you can extend your launch campaign to include the sky.

3D products

Whether we’re rebuilding the product from images, or actually scanning the product to create a 3D render, we now have incredible fidelity when it comes to recreating products. We’ve done campaigns on intricate, luxury jewellery, for the likes of Cartier, Piaget and Van Cleef & Arpels. We collaborated with carmakers such as Lincoln, Ford, Toyota and BMW, gamifying experiences or showcasing cars in full 3D, allowing people to change the colours and see the interior. We also worked on more everyday items, like coffee machines for Nescafe Dolce Gusto, where we let people place the machine in their homes and make coffee, or Oud for brands like Ibrahim Al Qureshi and Abdul Samad Qureshi, where a new product is brought to life, allowing the browser to simply tap through and become a buyer.

Retail Portals

In a world where physically visiting a store can create friction in the purchasing journey, we’ve designed an experience that allows you to recreate and enhance your retail experience. We partnered with Adidas to launch their new flagship store in Dubai Mall, with Alshaya for Black Friday, and Ounass for a retail experience designed around an ultra-luxurious walk-in wardrobe. When getting thousands of shoppers to your store might be a challenge, these experiences guarantee that millions will spend time seeing your products.

What’s Next…

One of our latest technologies is Full Body Tracking, which has been used globally by sports and fitness brands, from Nike to SWEAT, is also being leveraged locally! Beyond that, we’re also playing in the mixed reality space more and more, with object and brand logo detection becoming another way for people to unlock informational, entertaining or even promotional experiences.

To wrap up, these futuristic-sounding technologies are here today, and you can take advantage of them now to super-charge campaign effectiveness and connect with audiences in a much more meaningful and memorable way.