With augmented reality glasses getting closer to reality, AR looks set to take a major leap in 2021, and Snapchat’s seeking to remain at the forefront of that next stage, with the announcement of a new, $3.5 million AR creator fund to help fuel the next advancements in creative AR use.
The new fund will ensure that AR creators have another avenue to monetization, while Snapchat’s also looking to pair creators with brands for more innovative, immersive advertising experiences.
That will likely involve merging AR and eCommerce, which Snapchat’s already exploring. This year, the company has introduced a range of new AR shopping features, including new AR try-on campaigns and bar code and logo scanning options, which can also be used to trigger AR experiences.
Snapchat’s also exploring new Bitmoji-based virtual clothing sponsorships, which will be another way to merge digital and real-world experiences.
Various platforms are working on similar, with Facebook also looking to advance its AR tools in order to take the next leap. But Snapchat has repeatedly proven its capacity for innovation, in various forms, which should put it in good stead to compete with the larger tech players in the space.
The new creator fund will play a key role. According to Snap, its creator-made lenses have already been viewed more than a trillion times, with regular users able to build their own AR experiences via Snap’s Lens Studio app.
By opening up its AR tools to the broadest pool of creators, Snap stands a better shot at hosting the next big AR hit, while the company’s also sponsoring various new AR art initiatives and exhibitions to further build its creator ecosystem, and establish digital tools as a new artistic outlet.
But there’s more to its push than artistic expression and/or novelty value. As explained by Sophia Dominguez, Snapchat’s head of camera platform partnerships:
“I think 2021 is going to be one of those years in which we evolve augmented reality out of this pure communication or social media use case, into things that can actually make our lives better in a much broader way.”
AR try-on tools, aligned with the rise of eCommerce, are probably the most immediate example, but being able to scan bar codes and get product information is another potentially valuable use case, and as people become more habitually aligned to such behaviors, AR tools will continue to evolve, and potentially change the way we gather information.
The next step, then, is fully-enabled AR glasses. Facebook says that it’ll release its first AR wearable device next year, but Snap, as yet, doesn’t have a publicly communicated plan in place for a new, fully AR-enabled version of its Spectacles.
But you can bet that it is working on it, and they may be closer than many think. Expect AR to be a major focus in the year ahead, and for Snapchat to be a key player in that next shift.
Twitter Launches Election Integrity Features Ahead of US Midterms
The US midterms are coming up, and Twitter’s working to get ahead of any potential misuse of its platform to spread misinformation around the candidates, with a range of improved election integrity features, as well as new, curated election info hubs to help boost credible updates.
First off, Twitter’s activating enforcement of its Civic Integrity Policy, giving it more capacity to limit the spread of misleading tweets.
As per Twitter:
“The Civic Integrity Policy covers the most common types of harmful misleading information about elections and civic events, such as: claims about how to participate in a civic process like how to vote, misleading content intended to intimidate or dissuade people from participating in the election, and misleading claims intended to undermine public confidence in an election – including false information about the outcome of the election. Tweets with this content may be labeled with links to credible information or helpful context, and Twitter will not recommend or amplify this content in areas of the product where Twitter makes recommendations.”
Twitter launched a new set of tweet labels last November, which include additional notes on why the tweet has been labeled.
Those add-on tags have proven to be effective in limiting the spread of false information, with Twitter reporting its updated label formats increased ‘Find out more’ click-through rates by 17% (meaning more people were clicking labels to read debunking content), while they also led to notable decreases in engagement with labeled Tweets.
Twitter’s also bringing back its ‘prebunks’ to further limit the spread of misleading reports.
Prebunks aim to provide context on potentially misleading election trends, limiting false reportage about the same.
“Over the coming months, we’ll place prompts directly on people’s timelines in the US and in Search when people type related terms, phrases, or hashtags.”
Twitter’s also launching new election info hubs in Explore, with updates curated by Twitter’s team, along with its labels on candidate profiles to make it clear who they are and what position they’re running for.
Twitter will also be promoting media literacy tips on @TwitterSafety, to help users educate themselves on ways to avoid misinformation.
The combination of initiatives should help to limit the spread of misinfo around the polls, and keep Twitter users informed. Which is important, because while Twitter’s audience is only small, in comparison to other social apps, Twitter is the home of real time news and updates, which means that much of the news that’s initially shared on Twitter then gets aggregated to other platforms as a result.
Many of the most passionate, active news followers stay up to date via tweet, and if Twitter can ensure that these people are not receiving incorrect info to begin with, that can actually have a big impact on the broader news ecosystem.
Which is why all of these elements are more important than, on the surface, they may seem.
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