Image Rights for Everyday Objects with Snapchat Ad Tech

Snapchat is in a bit of a mixed moment right now. On the one hand, the app is flourishing, with more users than ever before, burgeoning ad revenue, releasing the massively hyped and well-received Snap Spectacles, and filing for a massive $25 billion IPO. On the other, Facebook, and more specifically Instagram, are continuing to engage all their considerable machinery to push snapchat back out of the picture.

Facebook/Instagram marks some seriously heavy competition, and they've been bringing in Snapchat-challenging tech such as their own stories, and ephemeral messaging and live broadcasting. They're determined to face down the threat Snapchat poses, but Snapchat is still holding its own, with few users leaving the app.

One way that Snapchat does struggle, at least compared to Facebook, is with ad revenue, and they've been trying to bump this up before the IPO goes live. Facebook, however, have extremely strong ad-targeting software, and an absolutely massive reach that is nigh impossible to overcome.

If Snapchat stands any chance of doing so, they need a really creative advertising boon, something that will make them stand out from the crowd. Step forward, image-triggered ads:

This little vid may look relatively inconspicuous, but the consequences could be game-changing. As you can see, the tech allows certain images in the Snapchat camera to trigger popups. You can see where this is going with regards for advertising.

The uses could be endless. A certain brand logo in a snap could give a link to the brand's products. Users could even receive money for incorporating specific brands into their snaps. Indeed, back in July, Snapchat actually filed a patent for an advertising system based around object recognition in your snaps, and it appears that the tech to do so is nearly here.

In the patent, Snapchat details ideas such as how an object "recognized as a restaurant" give snap users that restaurant's menu. Alternatively, a filter associated with a particular dish from that restaurant may include "celebratory graphics" to "commemorate the user's achievements" if they order it enough.

This could even lead to companies buying image rights to a certain object in Snapchat, a more than faintly terrifying prospect. Scary as it may be, it is in keeping with the commercialisation of every aspect of social media user experiences. See, for example, Instagram's addition of shoppable tags to fill your feed with products and streamline your purchase of them. It's hard to see Facebook ignoring the insane marketability of this image recognition technology, and if Snapchat implements it, it's only a matter of time until the others will to, patent or no.

Still, I'm going to enjoy my relatively ad-free Snapchat experience while it lasts, before my dog's face is bought by Pedigree and those pictures of people's meals I definitely love to receive are crowded with the cheapest place to buy all the ingredients. The Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment is truly near.

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