The ever popular Snapchat image sharing app has a small augmented reality feature called Lenses which detects user’s faces and inserts real-time effects on top. Samsung has seen fit to use the AR feature as an advertisement for their Gear VR headset.
Since launching the first consumer version of their Gear VR headset at the end of 2015, Samsung has turned on its marketing machine.
Following the announcement that the company would be giving away hundreds of thousands (if not more) Gear VR headsets with pre-orders of their new Galaxy S7 phones, Samsung has rolled out a sponsored Snapchat Lens which ironically uses augmented reality to serve as an advertisement for virtual reality.
The Lens attaches a 3D model of Gear VR to the user’s head while overlaying a foreground filter which can be changed by raising your eyebrows. The 3D headset tracks with the user’s head movements, and a ‘Samsung Gear VR, Powered by Oculus’ logo is seen at the top left. The Lens occupies the very first slot among the available selection (which can be found by pressing and holding on a face when taking a photo with Snapchat).
Beyond simply getting people talking, the Lens doesn’t appear to have any call to action which would allow users to act on it (ie: no way to click and get zipped off to a website to lean more about Gear VR). So for those who don’t already know what VR is, we can’t see the ad being particularly effective. For those that are familiar though it could drive curiosity to perform an independent web search to learn more.
Snapchat launched the first sponsored Lenses at the end of 2015. The company charges as much as $750,000 per day to reach the entire userbase with a sponsored Lens on peak days, according to the Financial Times.