Snap is tramping down a haunted path with the gradual release of its augmented reality-enabled glasses, dubbed Spectacles. After the very public failure of Google Glass, other potential developers were leery of coming out with AR glasses designed for mass consumption.
But now, Snap is rolling out a similar product—one that has entirely different branding and a different incentive for consumers to adopt the technology. Snapchat Spectacles are clearly positioned as a product that enables new, exciting experiences. For evidence, look no further than the funky design of the glasses themselves or the unique way the company has chosen to distribute the product (through randomly planted vending machines called Snapbots). In this way, the company is able to control the release of the glasses while using its very distribution as a marketing tool to generate buzz.
If you’ve ever passed someone on the street wearing a pair of Spectacles, you know what FOMO feels like. As a marketer, it might prompt you to consider whether Snap’s product has the marketing technology potential that Google Glass lacked. If consumers are eagerly adopting the technology, are Spectacles a new experience-based channel you should be planning for? And if so, what opportunities are we talking about?
Image attribution: Robert Nelson
Outside of their distribution, Spectacles offer a rare video perspective rooted in the user’s line of vision. As HubSpot pointed out, the point-of-view recording option is complemented by much faster operations; instead of pulling out your phone, your Spectacles function as on-the-ready recording devices. As well, users also don’t have to track the frame on their phones; instead, they can watch an event unfold naturally and know the camera is properly oriented.
These benefits aren’t entirely innovative in their own right: GoPro has already built its brand around recording exciting experiences from a first-person perspective. Where Spectacles distinguishes itself is through its use of circular video. Circular video records video with a 115-degree field of view, roughly equivalent to the human viewing perspective. Circular video allows the video to play on a traditional screen in any orientation. That means that for both horizontal and vertical orientations, video can be formatted and displayed in full-screen, making it a more versatile form of video content than orientation-specific recordings.
Of course, the goal is for these videos to be widely consumed on Snapchat, which is the perfect platform for displaying Spectacles content. Platform-specific video is a boon to any social network, given the rising consumption of video and its heavy influence on consumer purchasing behavior. For brands building a stronger Snapchat presence—which is a logical step in 2017, given that Snapchat has overtaken Twitter in daily active users and the success of parent company Snap’s recent IPO—then Spectacles content becomes a critical new tool for creating content specific to that platform’s experience.
The use of user-generated content is nothing new to social media, but Snapchat Spectacles could become a way of telling new stories from new perspectives. With users having the ability to record and share 10-second videos, Spectacles is a tool for literally seeing the world through another person’s eyes. Again, the video taken by Spectacles can also be shared with non-Spectacles users, which is critical to getting value out of that experience.
Marketers are also finding that this new perspective has plenty to offer, and some early-adopting brands are already experimenting with these possibilities. As AdWeek reported, Mountain Dew made a series of first-person videos that let users experience what it’s like to go skateboarding—while drinking a carbonated beverage, of course. Spectacles could also be used to provide behind-the-scenes content from awards shows, music concerts, and other exclusive venues where fans are eager to get an inside look.
Of particular note is the way brands are already taking advantage of Spectacles’ video-orientation possibilities. Due to the circular video capabilities, brands are creating content that flips between horizontal and vertical orientations, in hopes of creating a more immersive experience that leverages the capabilities of AR glasses. It’s a testament to their willingness to craft their stories through the technologies available to them, but it will be interesting to see whether fans embrace this new way of viewing video or if this switching orientation makes consumers feel nauseous.
Perhaps the most obvious application of Spectacles-driven storytelling will come on the influencer-marketing front. Having a first-person POV experience means that the person behind the glasses matters more than ever. Consumers want to experience the lives of celebrities, athletes, and even micro-influencers with dedicated online followings. Spectacles provides the chance to show what it’s like skiing down a slope or driving to the hoop in the NBA. You can experience the thrill of walking the red carpet and then switch over to the view of someone going for a ride on the London Eye.
Influencers will likely play a central role in the success of both Spectacles and its related marketing campaigns. If it’s true that Snap’s new product is designed as a toy, then it has to be a destination for fun and entertainment. The challenge for brand marketers is getting these AR glasses into the hands of influencers and then building a blueprint to maximize their use of this new content creation tool. Major celebrities and influencers are great, but brands should also consider working with micro-influencers who can offer truly unique perspectives, thus giving consumers video content they won’t find anywhere else.
Given the slow rollout of Spectacles, it’s clear that Snap isn’t primarily focused on making money from the $130 accessory. This is more about creating experiences. And given that most consumers have no ability to own the glasses themselves, the strategy at play is creating a strong association between the brand and satisfying experiences. Similarly, brands may not see clear, tangible gains to be made from a Spectacles-centric strategy. But they do have an opportunity to align their own story with the story being told by Snap, and this branding could be a much-desired asset as Snapchat continues its rise as a major social platform.
Featured image attribution: Wilson Yang