The Future of Mobile

Snap launches 523 content creator program, adds to Lens Studio features

David Murphy

Snap has launched 523, its first content accelerator program, designed to support and spotlight small, minority-owned content companies and creatives that traditionally lack access and resources. Snap said its aim is to help build their businesses and audiences through the creation of premium Shows for Discover, Snap’s curated content platform.

Applications to be part of the program are open until 1 February and participants will be selected by 1 March. Applicants must meet certain criteria. They must be minority-owned, which is to say at least 51 per cent of their company’s ownership must come from one or more underrepresented groups. They must have gross revenue in 2021, or the last 12 months, less than $5m; have less than 20 full-time employees; and agree to comply with Snap’s content guidelines and terms and conditions.

Over the course of six months, Snap will provide up to 20 successful applicants with funding of $10,000 per month to support the applicants’ investment in concepting and filming content for Discover. They will also receive 1:1 mentoring from Snap’s Content & Media Partnerships team on how to best leverage the Snapchat platform to increase engagement and business goals. 

They will also be able to access workshops that provide insight into the best practices to be successful, with sessions from experts across Snapchat. In addition, they will be included in announcements and public events related to the 523 program, and will also have the opportunity to form connections with sponsors who are offering time and resources to the program. These include AT&T, Nissan, Target, State Farm, Unilever, Uber Eats, and McDonalds. Finally, members of the program will have the opportunity to connect with other companies within the 523 program, and build a stronger network through Snapchat.

“The voices of underrepresented groups have long helped shape mainstream culture, yet these creative minds often don’t see the equitable benefits from their impact,” said Starr Nathan, 523 Program Manager at Snap. “If you want to make a real change, you have to embed equity in the business. That’s why we are designing tailored workshops, providing funding and helping participants build sustainable businesses.” 

Snap is also currently holding its annual Lens Fest event, where it has revealed that its 306m global users are creating an average of 5bn Snaps each day, and that more than 200m of these users engage with Lenses on Snapchat every day on average, and play with Lenses an average of more than 6bn times every day collectively.

More than 250,000 Lens creators from more than 200 countries and territories have built more than 2.5m AR Lenses, which have been viewed more than 3.5 trillion times. And than 80 per cent of Lens creators are based outside of the United States.  

Snap has also launched a suite of new features and tools in the 4.10 update for its AR creation software, Lens Studio.

Custom Landmarkers is an evolution of the Landmarkers and Local Lenses features introduced over the past couple of years, enabling Snap users to layer augmented reality onto dozens of popular destinations around the world. It will transform local landmarks into AR attractions. All it takes is a mobile device with a LiDAR Scanner to map the area and create a 3D model to bring into Lens Studio.

World Mesh will enable any creator to use depth information and world geometry understanding to create experiences that look and feel more like they’re part of the real world, previously only possible with higher end devices.

Snap has also introduced a new Sounds Library, offering users millions of songs to add to their own Lenses. And an API Library for Real-Time Data which pulls in real-time information from other sources, from the US  stock market, to weather data. At launch, APIs are available from partners including FTX, Alpaca, Accuweather, and iTranslate.  

There are also new monetisation opportunities for Lens creators. Lens Call-To-Action enables creators to include a link on a Lens, making it easy to drive Snapchatters to a destination like a merch shop. 

Gifting allows Lens creators to receive support from Snapchatters through Story Replies. Lens creators earn a share of the revenue from Gifts received through Story Replies. Gifting is available now for Lens creators in the Snap Lens Network across the US, and will roll out to additional countries soon.

And Ghost, Snap’s AR innovation lab, is accepting new applications on a rolling basis. Developers and small teams who want to explore the technical and creative possibilities of AR can apply and receive a grant of up to $150,000 for each project, as well as support from the Snap team. 

Finally, Connected Lenses make it possible for multiple people to share the same Lens with others in the same space on Spectacles. And Location Triggers enable Snap users to create Lenses that adapt based on a specific GPS radius, so that experiences can be customized based on the viewer’s location.