Snapchat opens up AR development to all creators with Lens Studio launch

The move marks a turning point for Snap

Snapchat is opening up new revenue streams with the launch of desktop app for Mac and Windows which will let all creators make their own Lenses, and make it easier for marketers to do so in the process.

Dubbed Lens Studio, the self-serve platform will see one of Snapchat's most popular features become more democratised.

Members of the public as well as companies can download it, but crucially for marketers Snap has introduced a roster of new partners that will be able to make Lenses for brands and agencies.

Partners include: ​Fishermen Labs, Haus, Avatar Labs, North Kingdom, Trigger Global, MediaMonks and VidMods.

The move marks a turning point for Snap because it removes the need for advertisers to go through its in-house AR team when they want to commission a Lens.

Snapchat's team will still be on hand to help advertisers scale the Lenses, affording the Venice Beach firm both the opportunity to take a bigger slice of advertisers' budgets.

In addition to this, Snap is lowering the cost of its promoted Selfie Lenses, which will let brands with smaller budgets spend more with the firm. Previously, there was a minimum of $300,000 price over a 12-month period to promote a Selfie Lens.

This could help the firm beat Wall Street estimates and give its so-far mixed earnings results a bump. In quarter three of the year, the company generated $208m in revenue; up 62% year-on-year. However, a decrease in its CPMs, plus an overestimation of demand for its Spectacles offering, resulted in a net loss of $443m for the period.

According to Snapchat around 70 million users spend an average of three-minutes each day playing with the digital avatars and special effects but until now, Lenses have only been conceived by Snap itself or the advertisers it works in an official capacity.

For now, non-partners (like the public) will be limited in that Lens Studio will only let them make World Lenses, which can be viewed in Snapchat via the rear facing camera, placing interactive, imaginary 3D objects into users' photos and videos. Selfie Lenses, like Snap's infamous 'dog face' and 'rainbow sick' overlays will still only be available via Snap or its advertising partners.

Users or businesses who have made their on masterpiece can only share their creation by passing on a QR-style Snapcode that 'unlocks' their Lens.

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