Snapchat Patent Tips New Ad Strategy

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A new Snapchat patent tips the use of photo recognition to serve users related filters, ads, and coupons.

The filing, published last week by the US Patent and Trademark Office, covers methods for generating and distributing content based on your images.

A tourist snapping a picture of the Empire State Building may see a King Kong filter, for instance; someone posting a photo of their steaming morning coffee could get a local coffeehouse voucher.

"There is a growing need to improve the experience associated with mobile wireless digital photography," the patent application says. "The addition of labels, drawings and other artwork … provides a compelling way for users to personalize, supplement and enhance these photographs."

And another way for Snapchat to earn some extra cash. Merchants, restaurants, even individual users would be invited to create photo filters that appear when an image meets specific criteria. A container of fries could trigger a menu overlay providing calories and price. Or a certain number of snaps in a particular diner may increase your odds at securing "celebratory graphics."

The 2015 filing, however, suggests the presentation of photo filters may require the user to perform a gesture—like swiping their phone screen. And, while the patent focuses mostly on photography, Snapchat said it may add the same feature to videos.

The company last month rolled out Snapchat Partners, an advertising API designed to expand marketing on the platform, i.e. insert third-party ads between face-swap photos and rainbow-barfing GIFs. Ads will appear "from time to time" between Stories in an effort to not interrupt the user experience. A beta program will run with 10 test partners, including Hollister, P&G, Verizon, and Warner Bros. The full Snap Ads suite is now available to advertisers, who can tap into interactive features that allow users to swipe up or down to view long-form video, access a website, read an article, or install an app.

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