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  • Ishbel Macleod

2018 in review: Snapchat

Snapchat's biggest updates of 2018

Oh, Snapchat. It’s been one heck of a year. The platform has been on a mission to prove that it’s more than the dog lens and disappearing posts. We take a look at some of the most important updates from over the past 12 months.

Lens creation

Lenses are a big part of Snapchat, so it’s no surprise that they decided to make it bigger in 2018. February saw a new ‘create your own lens’ tool roll out for users. The idea was to allow users to create lens for events such as birthdays, weddings and graduations – with over 150 different templates. The creation of a filter or lens isn’t free though: they cost at least £6.50 per day.

For those who use Snapchat more for business, November saw the launch of a Lens Creative Partners program. Designed specifically for the building of AR lenses for brands, creators have to ‘complete a rigorous course about the development process, creative best practices, ad policies and buy models of sponsored AR Lenses on Snapchat’ before becoming certified. Crikey.

Shoppable ads

2018 also saw Snapchat ramp up its advertising offering, with a huge move into the shoppable ads space.

Shoppable AR lenses were introduced in April, allowing advertisers to add a ‘watch’, ‘buy now’ or ‘install’ button to a branded lens. Adidas was among one of the big name brands to use the platform for the launch.

Shortly after, Snapchat began to test Shoppable Snap and Story ads which can run on the ‘discover’ page of the app. The end of the year also saw the creation of collection ads, allowing a brand to feature a series of products that users can tap to get more details.

Given this ad focus, it’s no surprise that there was also a ramp-up of Snapchat’s Ad Manager. After eight months of testing, the Snap Pixel was made available to all advertisers. As well as allowed advertisers to attribute actions, the Pixel can power new bidding options, such as driving website conversions (to reach users who are more likely to take actions on ads), as well as allowing a clear way to see ROI.

Visual search tool

As part of Snapchat’s focus on ecommerce, it began a trial partnership with Amazon in September for a visual search tool.

The idea of the tool is to allow users to use Snapchat’s camera to recognise items (a product, or even a barcode) and link them to projects available on Amazon. Once the product is recognised, a card appears on the screen linking to that product, or something similar. Users can then head to the Amazon app or the website to complete the purchase. It is being rolled out slowly, but is a different take on the usual shoppable ads.

Snapchat launched a visual search tool

Story updates

Snapchat wouldn’t be Snapchat without updates to its Story functionality, and there have been a few of those this year.

Some of the notable updates this year include the launch of Bounce (essentially, Boomerang) which lets users loop parts of their video, and a lens which was specifically designed for use on cats.

Most recently, December saw the news that Snapchat is testing a raft of new features, including a camera grid, a portrait mode and the ability to upload more than one photo to a story at once, which it is calling ‘batch capture’. Some of these were rolled out by Instagram earlier in the year, so it will be interesting to see if and when these are made available for all Snapchat users.

Snap Camera

When you think 'Snapchat', you’d be forgiven for thinking it was app-only. But this year owner Snap launched the Snap Camera desktop app, which can be integrated with Skype, YouTube and more, so people can add Snapchat lenses to their live streams or video chats.

To add a lens, users need to install the app and choose it as a camera output in their chosen third-party app. It is then as simple as choosing which lens to use. What does seem slightly strange is that you don’t been a Snapchat account to use the desktop version. Surely this would be an opportunity to sign up new members?

Snap Camera lets you use filters on third party videos


Last but not least is a feature that we’re surprised wasn’t introduced ages ago – being able to tag friends in posts.

It had been rumoured to be coming for a while, but it wasn’t until October that Snapchat introduced this. Very simply, people were able to type @username in their Story to tag their friend or friends. Anyone who then saw the post could then swipe to see other public posts from those who were tagged or add them as friends. Given that Instagram Stories has had this functionality for a long time, it’s a bit strange that Snapchat is only adding this now!

Want to know more about changes in social media? Check out our round-ups of 2018 on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest.

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