Today, Snapchat held its annual Partner Summit, where it previewed a range of new updates and tools, and shared new stats on usage trends, evolving behaviors, and more.
And there’s a heap to get through – first off, Snapchat provided some new insights into its adoption of generative AI, via its ‘My AI’ chat assistant.
The new tool, which Snap launched in late February, is now facilitating over 2 million chats per day, for a range of purposes, which underlines the rising popularity of AI tools, and how they can be used within social apps.
Based on this, Snap’s looking to ride the generative AI wave to greater heights. Initially, My AI was only available to Snapchat+ subscribers, but now, Snapchat will enable all users to use the option within their chat inbox.
In addition to this, Snapchat’s adding new My AI features, like the ability to personalize your My AI avatar (so it’s not a strange purple guy), while you’ll also soon be able to add My AI into your chats with friends.
Snapchat’s also adding an image generation element, with users able to interact with My AI via visual cues, and the tool able to generate visual replies. Snap’s testing this with Snapchat+ subscribers to begin with, but it’ll be another element for Snaphatters to engage with via its virtual assistant.
Also, new generative AI Lenses.
Snapchat’s also adding a new form of AR Lens which will incorporate generative AI, with this new ‘Cosmic Lens’ being the first integration. The new Lenses will be able to adapt and change based on user inputs.
AI is clearly the trend of the moment, and it makes sense for Snap to expand this feature, as a means to boost interest, and get more people interacting with this new element. Snap’s new AI features will be rolling out over the coming months.
On another front, Snap’s also looking to provide more monetization opportunities for creators, via the expansion of its Stories revenue share program.
As per the video, Snapchat users with over 50,000 followers, 25 million views, or 12,000 hours of cumulative view time will now qualify for the initiative. Those that sign up to the program are eligible to have ads displayed within their Stories, and this expansion will mean that more Snap creators will be able to generate direct income via their Snap content.
A further addition here is the expansion of public Stories, which will enable users to maximize reach and discovery.
“Starting today, Snapchatters aged 18 or older will be able to post their own Public Story with a simple tap. Open the camera, create a Snap, and choose to share it with friends or add it to your Public Story, all from the same account.”
Snap’s also looking to showcase more creator content in the Snap Map, via Place Tags, which will highlight Snaps from a specific spot, another means to boost audience reach.
Snap’s revenue share programs, thus far, have been hit and miss, with its Spotlight rewards program eventually turning some creators off due to inconsistent payouts. Now, Snap’s looking to build a more sustainable, equitable revenue program – though the cost of that will be a shift away from only sharing content among friends, which has always been a key element of the Snap experience.
These expanded audience options move it more into line with other social apps, but the benefit will be greater audience and monetization potential for users.
AR is also a key focus for the company, with Snap adding new AR elements for video calls that will enable participants to engage in games and other experiences while chatting.
Snap’s also building in new Lens recommendations, based on the context of a photo or video a Snapchatter has captured.
“Through a combination of visual understanding of what’s in the camera’s view and APIs that understand factors including the local weather forecast and time of day, Lenses are dynamically surfaced to match the moment. Over the next few months, Snapchatters will find more Lens recommendations when people or pets are captured in the frame.”
Snapchat’s also updated its Lens Carousel ranking algorithms, in order to better recommend Lenses based on Snapchatters’ unique preferences.
Snap’s also looking to keep expanding its tools beyond the app itself, with a new initiative that will see Snap’s AR tools integrated into mirrors in stores.
That’s in line with Snap’s broader push to integrate virtual fashion items, and provide increased capacity to see how you may look in fashion items. Snap’s been developing this element for years, with a range of virtual try-on tools, but now, you’ll also be able to interact with Snap’s AR tech in more places.
Snap’s also working to build a virtual clothing store for its Bitmoji avatars, while it is also now enabling expanded third-party use of its AR tools via its ARES initiative. In combination, these initiatives will ideally ensure that Snap remains a leader on the AR front, by powering more AR advances in a range of applications.
Finally, Snap’s also adding a new Stories mode called ‘After Dark’, which will enable Snapchatters to post exclusive content for their friends after 8pm, which only those that have also posted on their Stories will be able to access.
In addition to these new features ad tools, Snap’s also shared a range of new usage and engagement insights, including:
- Its Snapchat+ subscription service is now up to 3 million paying subscribers, up from the 2.5 million that it reported in February. That makes it by far the most popular of the new wave of paid add-on elements, with Twitter Blue currently sitting on around 600k subs. The popularity of Snapchat+ reflects the magnetism of Snap, and its understanding of its user community.
- On Bitmojis, Snap says that nearly 1.7 billion Bitmojis have been created globally – up from the 1 billion it reported last year. Bitmoji characters represent Snap’s best chance to stay connected to the metaverse shift, if it happens, with Snap building in more tools to better align users with their Bitmoji character, which could see some look to use it as their virtual avatar in future applications.
- Spotlight, its TikTok clone feature, now has more than 350 million monthly active users, while time spent watching Spotlight content in Q1 23 grew over 170% year-over-year.
Some interesting updates, and advances from Snap, which reflect the app’s enduring capacity to stay tuned into the latest trends and advances, and integrate them into Snap-specific experiences.
Worth considering what these may mean for future usage trends, and not just on Snap, as every other social app looks to learn from its successes.