Snapchat has already found a compelling way to create advertisements in augmented reality with their branded filters, but they continue to experiment with new ways to monetize the bridging of the real and digital worlds. Their latest idea, which requires users to "snap" an image to unlock content, could succeed where QR codes haven't.
Here's how it works:
Snapchat is working on a new type of ad that would allow people to use their smartphone cameras to unlock special sponsored content in the app. The feature lets people scan an image or barcode on a poster or a website, which later gives them a special deal on a product, according to two people briefed on the company's ad strategy.
This probably sounds a lot like scanning a QR code, there are a lot of issues that Snapchat should be able to avoid. To scan QR codes, you need to generally need to rely on a generic app that may not be your best option. It also tries to handle very specific tasks and can't really create experiences since the app is designed simply to decode information and, in some cases, perform an action (like decoding a URL and opening the site in your mobile web browser).
While the actual technology might not differ all that much with Snapchat, they can create specific experiences through their already relevant platform. When you add a friend on the app, you can easily do so by scanning their unique avatar in the real world. Creating ads that provide specific functionality in the app is trivial because Snapchat already has that basic functionality built-in. Regular users understand how it works, so there's no learning curve. If we see that familiar ghost on a print ad in the real world, we know it's probably scannable.
What features these real-world ads will unlock remains to be seen, but it offers a unique change to how we interact with brands and their products. Current advertising methods only work so well because they require passive viewing and few people bother paying attention to non-compulsory video they're not inherently interested in. It's refreshing that Snapchat has focused their efforts on making advertisements something we'll actually enjoy rather than hate.