9th December 2022

POV: Snap Lens Fest 2022


At Snap’s annual Lens Fest event this week, the company shared some insights into its AR development with plans revealed to enable creators to monetize lenses.

Details and Implications:

Snap Inc. held its fifth annual developer conference this week for its global AR community. At the event, the company shared how the community had grown, with more than 300,000 developers building AR products for its platform who collectively have built over 3 million lenses to date. In total, Lenses have been viewed an astonishing 5 trillion times on the platform. Snap also said that the use of AR for shopping was increasing, with more than 250 million Snapchatters engaging with AR shopping Lenses since January 2021.

Outside of the usage updates, the key announcement from the event was around Snap’s plans for monetization. The company is launching an AR pilot with a small group of creators and developers to build Lenses with digital goods that can be purchased with Snap Tokens. It means users would be able to unlock power-ups, AR items and extra tools with certain Lenses. It is akin to the approach of gaming platforms such as Roblox and Fortnite and their in-game economies.

Snap Tokens, which users can buy via their profile in the Snapchat app, were introduced in 2020. They are currently used for redemption for exclusive Bitmoji merchandise or to send Gifts to creators but would be used to unlock digital goods within a Lens in this new experiment.

For the initial roll out Snap has focused on three AR use cases: self-expression, fashion and play, with a couple of creators selected for each category. The creator of the famous ‘Potato Lens’ and the team behind the multiplayer ‘Table Trenches Lens’ are part of the pilot. In Potato Lens, tokens can be redeemed to upgrade the potato with new outfits, to turn it into a police officer or magician etc. In the case of Table Trenches, users can get new skins, access new levels and unlock other opportunities.

The approach of offering exclusive premium content that enhances an existing basic offering is a well-trodden path, so whilst some may question why you’d want to pay for a potato outfit, the fact that there are around 250 million users engaging with Snap’s AR elements every day means there will be plenty of users keen to pay for AR enhancements and additional features that others do not have.

These new Lenses will show up in the Lens Carousel and Lens Explorer and will roll out in Australia and New Zealand initially, though Snap will look to expand the experiment to more countries in future.

Snap also announced a new Lensathon challenge to encourage creators to push the possibilities of AR and compete for a share of a $200,000 prize pot.


Snap still believes that AR is the future. So far Face lenses and ‘try-on’, which lets you see how anything from sunglasses to couches will look before you buy them, have been winning applications. The company is still committed to pushing the possibilities and investing in experiments to try to create what it sees as the AR future. Snap is hoping that this new pilot will help developers make money and by doing so incentivise them to keep creating and experimenting – which is necessary for the platform’s success. It also gives Snap an additional way to generate revenue from Tokens.

Further Reading:

Snap | The Verge | TechCrunch | Social Media Today

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