Qreal’s Branding Takeaways from Snapchat’s Partner Summit

Amid the global Coronavirus outbreaks, Snap Inc. held this year’s annual Snap Partner Summit virtually. The Summit brings together some of the world’s most innovative Augmented Reality (AR) content creators and serves as a way for Snap to announce its latest platform updates. 

Interesting updates from Snap’s Partner Summit 2020 include:

  • Local Lenses for Snapchatters to decorate spaces together
  • SnapML, which lets developers incorporate their own machine learning (ML) models to Lenses
  • Snap Minis, an integration for helping users plan activities together
  • New AR experiences and games for the platform

From a branding and marketing standpoint, AR provides an exciting, eye-catching way to retain an audience’s attention—this is especially true for Snapchat. More than 170 million Snapchatters use the platform’s popular AR filters. On average, these users have 30 AR engagements per day.

Alper Guler, the Head of Product Innovation for Glimpse Group subsidiary QReal, attended this year’s virtual summit. Glimpse’s Marketing Manager, Elena Piech, spoke with Guler about the summit and the future of the social platform.

Elena Piech: What was it like attending the virtual summit in comparison to last year’s summit?
Alper Guler:  Last year, the weather was great. As a person from New York, I thought LA was great. It was really well organized. Networking was easier. In-person meetings are always great. I miss attending events and meeting people with similar minds. Last year I had a red-eye return from LA to New York, so that was challenging.

This year was also great. This year was more focused on their Augmented Reality platform, AR clouds, and how the platform could potentially understand the whole world around you from a 3D and AR perspective. Content-wise, this year was great. I’m not sure if I’m into these virtual meetings more or not.

EP: What was one of the most interesting Augmented Reality takeaways from this year’s virtual Summit?
AG: I think one of the most important things for Augmented Reality was that Snapchat introduced machine learning. Now people can embed their machine learning algorithms into their lenses. That opens up a whole new camera system and ways to use AR.

Snapchat always talked about the camera-first application and how it opens into your camera. Using these technologies, the Snapchat team has been using machine learning stuff to make interesting filters, like ones that make you look younger or make you look older. Right now, anyone who is building machine learning algorithms can just push that content into Snapchat. The first couple of use cases included shoe-tracking and foot-tracking. But this opens a lot more opportunities to grow. 

EP:  What do you think the machine learning integration means for the future of branded or promotional experiences on Snap? 
AG: For brands, I think this announcement opens a couple of doors. For example, logo scanning. Brands will be able to bookmark their logos, [Snapchatters will scan it and] then they will open into experiences.

When you think about Instagram or Snapchat, most of the people have the app, but you need to unlock your specific experience to see what’s happening for your brand. With this logo scanning feature embedded into Snapchat, wherever you hold your logo you can experience an environment prepared by that brand. Louis Vuitton had a great example of taking people to a virtual installation display all by letting people scan their iconic monogram logo

EP: How does QReal plan on using this feature?
We have a couple of ideas, but I won’t spill them out. I think these features open a bunch of different opportunities for brands. And for us, we’ve been looking at new ways to create easier experiences for the user. We want to design frictionless experiences for the client. And this removes a couple of steps and provides a new way for the customer to experience a great augmented reality lens. 

“We want to design frictionless experiences for the client.”

Alper Guler, QReal’s Head of Product Innovation

EP: While at the Summit, how did you deploy Snapchat platform updates to your team?
AG: I was live blogging to the whole [QReal] team. From original content, to vertical videos, to different types of integrations, I was following all the news around the Summit. We (the QReal team) all try to keep close to companies like Apple, Google, Snapchat, and Facebook for their yearly developer summits. We try to learn what’s new and then create demos as quickly as possible. 

All our team is aware of all the updates, but I’m usually keeping an eye out, trying to get the most important things to our clients and partners. With Snapchat, for example, we created an example of a virtual shoe try-on with “shoe-tracking.” We already had a lifelike 3D asset of a shoe and we used that same asset to put the shoe on someone’s foot. The first thing we do is, we start creating experiences that help the brands see the real value and what they can do with that technology. Technology by itself doesn’t really do much, so we are trying to create experiences to help them imagine how they can use that technology for their brands.

EP: Looking at the landscape for where branding and advertising are going—especially with so many people being at home or having to make modifications‚there’s TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and Snap. Out of those social platforms. Would you say one of them is really leading the charge when it comes to enhancing AR for this at-home environment?
AG: I think all these platforms are adapting to the technology. Instagram has a great base on beauty lenses and people love using the lens to post stuff on Instagram.

For certain ages and certain countries, Snapchat is leading the way on chat and how people can express themselves through their camera’s ecosystem. Technology-wise, I think Snapchat is by far the most innovative. But with consumer buys and brand adaptation, Instagram is there.

And I’m a huge fan of TikTok. I’ve been following it from the Musical.ly days. I probably spend most of my time on TikTok now, maybe more than Snapchat and Instagram. I’m really fascinated with the platform, but there’s not a lot of AR in terms of what we see as AR. But people are being creative. So I think they will adapt to the things we do in the future.

EP: Right now, we’re still adjusting to this new normal. How are things looking in the QReal pipeline? Is there anywhere new that you guys are focusing on now or seeing a particular type of demand?
AG: When the pandemic just started, all brands wanted to understand what was going to happen. Before they didn’t really take action on it. But now, many of the fashion brands and e-commerce companies [are seeing that AR] will have a huge impact on online sales.

From a marketing standpoint, AR can be really helpful in bringing your products to your customers. It’s a great tool to give your customers to create their own type of content and post it on their own social media. It’s great for brand awareness and virtual try-ons can reduce return rates, which is a huge problem for the whole industry. I strongly believe from the e-commerce point of view, in using AR in marketing and virtual try-ons. AR will have a positive impact in the next couple of years.

Alper Guler is the Head of Product Innovation for Glimpse Group subsidiary company QReal. To stay up-to-date on the latest in AR on social platforms, enhancements in e-commerce strategies, or tasty Turkish cuisine, feel free to send Alper a message on LinkedIn.

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