How can AR become meaningful?



How can AR become meaningful?

Snap Inc.

Marketing the Lens Studio brand to make AR meaningful to the Lens Community.




Growing the Lens Community

For my independent study in my final semester of grad school, I reached out to Snap Inc. for a project because they were my favorite brand for their mission of striving to change the way people live and communicate. I was very excited to present them my ideas because Snapchat has always given me a medium to express myself in my own way.


Brand Marketing Consultant

Account Management: I worked closely with the Brand Manager of Lens Studio to grow Snap’s Lens Creator community.

Brand Strategy: After researching the AR developer tool category, current Lens usage by Snapchatters, and the motivations of potential and active AR creators, I recommended a new position for the platform.

Brand Marketing: Through collaboration with a cross-functional team consisting of experience designers, strategist, art director, and copywriter, we developed experiences that help people understand the Lens Studio brand and AR to get that new position.


My Favorite Outputs

Snap Lens for Business Playbook: Developed a playbook to help brands market themselves through AR by Snap more strategically.

Official Lens Creator Dashboard: Designed a dashboard that profiled Snap’s Official Lens Creators to help marketers determine appropriate partnerships.  

Lens Creation Score: Established a metric that measures the impact of Lens Creators on Snapchatters to segment and support its creators by factoring in key metrics that Snap already tracks.






AR has been growing in popularity.

Augmented Reality (AR) is a technology that puts an image on a person’s view of the world. In recent years, the technology has been growing in popularity.

  • In 2015, Snap Inc. released AR Lenses as a whole new way to see yourself.

  • In 2016, Niantic Labs released Pokémon Go, a mobile AR game, which got over 500 million downloads by the end of the year.

  • In 2017, Snap Inc. released a hot dog that breakdanced on Snapchat more than 1.5 billion times.

Dog Face Lens by Snap Inc.

Dog Face Lens by Snap Inc.

Snap Inc., Snapchat, and Lens Studio

Snap Inc. is a camera company reinventing the camera to improve the way people live and communicate.

The brand is most known for being the parent company of Snapchat, a popular camera application that helps people communicate through images and short form videos called, “Snaps.”

As 60% of Snapchatters create through Snapchat’s camera feature everyday, Snap Inc. developed Lens Studio, a platform that allows creators to develop AR experiences for Snapchat like the Dog Face Lens and Dancing Hot Dog Lens created by Snap Inc.

AR experiences created from Lens Studio

AR experiences created from Lens Studio

Lens Creators and Community Lenses

In 2018, a year since the launch of Lens Studio, Snap Inc. has amassed a community of over 50 Official Lens Creators, those who are educated in creating on Lens Studio and loyal to creating for Snap. Their AR experiences, called Community Lenses, are found in the Snapchat app within the Lens Explorer feature.

Official Lens Creators

Official Lens Creators

Community Lenses within the Lens Explorer feature

Community Lenses within the Lens Explorer feature






Consumer AR Developer Platforms

As Snap Inc. developed a tool for people to create their own AR experiences, other major tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple also joined in to compete for potential AR creators. With growing competition, how can Snap Inc. grow its Lens Creator Community?


Snap Inc. asked me to help grow its Lens Creator community with three objectives focusing on awareness, visibility, and revenue:

  1. Awareness: How can Lenses be more discoverable to drive Snapchatter growth and usage?

  2. Visibility: How can Snap grow its base of Lens Creators and increase Lens submissions to the platform by proving that it’s worth their while?

  3. Revenue: How can Lens Studio bring revenue for Snap and its Creative Partners community?






Objectives + Methodologies

Before diving into research, I established research objectives and methodologies.


  • What is the current perception of AR to potential Lens creators?

  • How is AR used on Snapchat?

  • Why do people create?


  • Primary - Snapchatter Survey (n=100), Creator Survey (n=121), Outdoor Phone Usage Survey (n=106), Snapchatter Interviews (n=25), AR Creator Interviews (n=10)

  • Secondary - AR Developer Platform Audit, AR Creator Communities Audit, AR Use Cases Audit, Snap Lenses for Business Audit, Creator Monetization Audit, Secondary Articles (n=50)






What do potential Lens creators think of AR?

In order to grow Snap’s community of AR creators, I began by asking what they thought of the technology. This is what I heard:

  • “It has potential to be useful but the technology is in a very early, unrefined state.”

  • “It's neat and has lots of great potential, but it seems the medium has remained stale.”

  • “It will be the future of storytelling and the transfer of information, but today it’s entertainment.”

Overall, I found that 70% of potential AR creators are excited by the future of AR, but see its limitations today. From that finding, I saw a clear tension between the future and present states of AR:


  • AR will be useful in many major industries from retail to health to education.

  • AR has the potential to change the way we live.

  • AR will innovate the transfer of information.

Future Use Case Example: Transfer of Information

Future Use Case Example: Transfer of Information


  • AR is raw and unrefined, there hasn’t been many adopted daily use cases.

  • Much of what we see in AR today is more of the same.

  • AR is just grabbing people’s attention.

Present Use Case Example: Pokemon Go

Present Use Case Example: Pokemon Go

That tension led to an insight that many potential Lens creators perceive the technology as gimmicky. However, on the bright side, AR can be meaningful in the future.


  • Finding: The future of AR is exciting, but there are limitations today.

  • Insight: Potential AR creators perceive the medium as gimmicky.

  • Implication: AR can be meaningful.

  • Real Challenge: In order to grow Snap’s Lens Creator community, potential Lens creators need to feel that creating AR for Snapchat will be meaningful.

  • Objective: Shift potential Lens creators’ perception of AR from gimmicky to meaningful.

How is AR used on Snapchat?

In order to figure out how AR can become meaningful, I looked into how AR is used on Snapchat through Lenses. I found an online community on Reddit for Lens Lovers called r/SnapLenses consisting of 150K creators and users where Lens creators shared their Lenses, users offered new ideas for Lenses, and Lens Creators tried their best to fulfill those requests.

Lens use case on Reddit

Lens use case on Reddit

Overall, I found that 85% of the top posts of all time on r/SnapLenses were memes. As coined by evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawson, in 1976, memes are bits of cultural DNA that encodes society’s shared experiences while constantly evolving. A good example from his time was a song melody. Today, many internet denizens think of memes as jokes passed across social media in the form of images or gifs. That said, the SnapLenses subreddit was really a community that shared jokes through Lenses.

From that community, I had a hypothesis that Snapchatters were essentially using AR to send jokes. In order to see if Snapchatters outside of that community were doing the same thing, I asked Snapchatters what their most memorable Snaps were with Lenses in a Snapchat usage survey. Here’s what I heard:

  • “The voice changer is fun to play with my cousin”

  • “The face-changing Lens lets me send goofy Snaps with my friends”

  • “A faceswap of the last presidential candidates while I sang along to fitting songs for each”

From broad to oddly specific, I found that 90% of the most memorable Snaps with Lenses were jokes between Snapchatters. That confirmed my hypothesis that Snapchatters used AR to send jokes which led me to an insight that Lenses bring an inside joke to life.

Lens use case from Snapchatter interviews

Lens use case from Snapchatter interviews

AR on Snapchat was really used to empower people to be themselves with those that matter most; Lenses enabled personal expression. From that insight, I inferred that Snapchatters create with Lenses to express themselves.


  • Finding: AR is used to share jokes.

  • Insight: Lenses bring an inside joke to life.

  • Implication: Lenses enable personal expression.

Why create?

Snapchatters want to express themselves and they do so by creating with Lenses as we’ve seen with their inside jokes with those people that understand them. That led me to ask what are some reasons for creating? So to understand why, I asked creators why they create through a survey and here’s what I heard:

  • “I wish I could answer that. There's just a fire in my belly.”

  • “I have to. Just part of who I am.”

  • “I like things and I'm very particular. If I can't find EXACTLY what I'm looking for, I'll just make it myself.”

Overall, 92% of creators, in the broadest definition as possible from 2D artists to filmmakers, create for themselves. To them, creating is an authentic form of personal expression.

From that, I had a hypothesis that creating was also a form of personal expression for Snap’s Lens Creators. To see if this finding was true for Lens Creators from beginners to hobbyists to professionals, I asked them what motivates them to create a Lens. This is what I heard:

  • “To practice my craft.”

  • “To express myself.”

  • “To see if an idea I have would be technically possible.”

From those conversations, I confirmed my hypothesis and gained an insight that Lens Creators make Lenses to bring themselves and their own ideas to life.

Compilation of Lenses created by Official Lens Creators

Compilation of Lenses created by Official Lens Creators

From that insight, I inferred that creating Lenses on Lens Studio was a form of meaningful communication. Creating Lenses was an outlet for creators to express themselves. In order for Snap to get more Lens Creators, Snap needs to make AR a form of meaningful communication.


  • Finding: Creating is an authentic form of personal expression.

  • Insight: People create to bring themselves and their own ideas to life.

  • Implication: Creating is a meaningful form of communication.

  • Opportunity: Make AR a form of meaningful communication.


Brand Marketing Plan

Brand Marketing Plan



Make AR meaningful communication by creating laboratories that foster personal expression through AR.

Laboratories have been perceived as environments for specialists to solve world problems; however, today, laboratories are collaborative spaces that bring different people together to accomplish a common goal. My strategy aimed to bring people together to make AR a meaningful form of communiction through experimentation of creating and using Lenses.

Snapchatters create with Lenses to express themselves by bringing inside jokes among them to life. Lens Creators create to express themselves by bringing their ideas to life in a meaningful way. By developing these environments where the work of Lens Creators can inspire Snapchatters to express themselves in their own way, Snap will be able to grow its Lens Creator community, enable Snapchatters to use Lenses, and incentivize Lens Creators to continue.


Lens Community

There are four key players in the Lens Community:

  1. Brand Fans - Brand Fans need to be encouraged to express themselves even more with Lenses.

  2. Brand Activators - Brand Activators need to enticed to bring their ideas to life through AR.

  3. Brand Builders - Brand Builders need to be inspired to create more.

  4. Brand Core - Brand Core needs to be incentivized to keep creating.

Brand Fans and Activators are current users of Lenses. Brand Builders and Core are current creators of Lenses.



Growing the Lens Community.

In order to grow the Lens Community, I broke up my plan into three phases:

  1. Create: Inspire Brand Activators to want to create and learn how to create.

  2. Discover: Enable discovery and use of Lenses for Brand Fans.

  3. Express: Incentivize the Brand Builders and Core to keep creating.




If you can think it, you can make it.

Lens Studio makes it easy for you to shape your reality the way you see fit. However, you want to see your world, Lens Studio gives you the tools to make it. No matter how simple or over the top, the only thing that’s holding you back is your imagination. Whatever scenario you can imagine, you can make.

Lens Studio is communication through experimentation.

Snap x VCU (10).png





Goal: Potential Lens Creators see AR experiences as meaningful communication.

The first phase is Create, where we will grow the Lens Creator Community and drive Lens submissions by showing how AR experiences can be meaningful to potential Lens Creators.

digital awareness campaign

To kick off, there will be an awareness communication campaign to drive Lens Studio downloads from users on social networks outside of the Snapchat platform such as Instagram and Facebook where many Community Lenses are currently being shared.


elearning platform partnerships

Once potential Lens creators download Lens Studio, in order to drive Lens Submissions, they need to learn how to create.

For them to learn and to build credibility for Lens Studio as a creator tool, we will develop partnerships with eLearning platforms such as Udacity where potential Lens Creators can learn the fundamentals and Skillshare where they can learn how to bring their own ideas to life.


co-working space workshop partnerships

For those that need a hands-on approach to learning the skill, there will be live Lens Studio Sessions in the format of workshops at co-working spaces such as WeWork. This is a scalable version to Snap’s Lens Studio workshop at the NBA all-star weekend this past February.


lens studio challenges

Now that they know how to create, we will encourage more Lens creation and submissions through challenges in the Lens Studio platform. Through these challenges, Lens Creators can spark their imagination to create on a daily basis.



Goal: Snapchatters feel enabled to express themselves through Lenses.

The second phase is Discover, where we will enable self expression of Snapchatters who love to use them through Lenses by making them more discoverable.

community lens creator Galleries

To kick off, there will be creator galleries in the Lens Explorer feature which will release a curated list of Community Lenses based on a current Lens Creation Challenge on Lens Studio.


physical activation: City Unlocked

For Snapchatters who love Lens but are unfamiliar of Community Lenses, there will be a physical activation in a test market based on three considerations.

  1. Education

  2. Arts & Culture

  3. Food

This is a pop-up event to encourage Snapchatters who love to create with Lenses to explore where they are from the perspectives of native Lens Creators. 

Snapchatters can discover the hidden world in their physical environment through 2D/3D markers, Snapcodes, or location based in-app Lenses that will let them immerse in the location they are in.

In the example below, Washington, D.C. was chosen as a test market because:

  1. DC has 14 free entry museums and a zoo.

  2. There are arts & culture events year round like the Cherry Blossom Festival.

  3. DC ranks high in diversity, accessibility, and quality of food.

To start, Snapchatters will be receiving an in-app message from Team Snapchat when they are in the location of the activation where they are prompted to open their Snap Map.

To start, Snapchatters will be receiving an in-app message from Team Snapchat when they are in the location of the activation where they are prompted to open their Snap Map.

In the Snap Map, Snapchatters can explore what the City Unlocked has to offer through new 2D icons reflecting the area.

In the Snap Map, Snapchatters can explore what the City Unlocked has to offer through new 2D icons reflecting the area.


Education Len Use Case - Panda Fact Lens

Let’s suppose you’re at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and wanted to learn more about pandas and wanted to hear straight from the source.

By pointing your camera from Snapchat and using a sponsored Face Lens by the Smithsonian, viewers will be able to see and hear how Tian Tian, the panda, really feels about his bamboo diet.


Arts & Culture Use Case: Kali Uchis Concert Lens

Let’s suppose you really wanted to see the music culture of DC.

At a music venue, The Anthem, using a “Look Around” Interactive Sponsored Lens by Kali Uchis, a native DMV artist, Kali can bring her music visually to life and viewers will be able to see the real show.


Food Lens Use Case: Ben’s Chili Bowl Coupon Lens Snapcode

Let’s suppose you happen to be in DC for a work trip but wanted to make sure you had a taste of the cuisine DC has to offer.

When you’re at a family restaurant such as Ben’s Chili Bowl, using an gamified Interactive Sponsored Lens, you’ll be starving to get a taste.




Goal: Lens Creators feel incentivized to continue to create Lenses.

Now that Snapchatters are using the Lenses, the last phase is Express, where Lens Creators’ drive to create will be fueled by incentivizing them to continue to create Lenses.


From the success of the activation, Lens Challenges will be opened up to SMBs (small to medium sized businesses) to enable Lens Creators to create more and to allow monetization for both the creator and Snap Inc.


lens for business Playbook

There are so many ways of creating values with Snap Lens. I created a hand book for small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) to explore and discover the best Lens solutions for their objectives.


Lens for Business Creator Profiles 

Lenses bring so many different creators to life. I created dashboard profiles of Lens Creators on Snapchat for Business for small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) to find the best Lens Creative Partner for their objectives.



12 months






Lens Creation Score

I created an index to quantify Lens Creators’ impact on Snapchatters that use their Lenses.

Recognizing the amount of effort and dedication Lens Creators put into their Augmented Reality experiences for Snapchatters, Snap Inc. will be able to measure the heart of the Lens Community, its creators, by using existing key metrics for Lens Creators and tracking them through this index.

Using the scores, Snap can segment Lens Creators and then support, encourage, and cater their unique needs by providing benefits and opportunities tailored to the stage they are in from beginners to hobbyists to entrepreneurs. Additionally, businesses can use it to see which Lens Creator would be appropriate to fulfill their business need through Lens Creator profiles for businesses.



Pioneering the future of communication by enabling Lens creation.


Today, creating AR experiences is now a form of meaningful communication. Creators will want to create AR not because of the tool Snap has. Snap wants to improve the way people live and communicate by fostering personal expression with AR as a medium. People don’t buy into what you do. People buy into why you do and why Snap does is pioneering the future of communication by enabling AR creation.



Kobby Amoako-Atta - Copywriter

Paul Atienza - Brand Marketer

Brit Kern - Experience Designer

Colin O’Shea - Art Director

Kyle Stolcis - Strategist

Ray Zhang - Experience Designer