Mobile, Technology

Snap’s Spectacles Are the World’s First Native Ad-Only Technology

Here’s what strikes me about the new Spectacles that Snap – formerly Snapchat and now the name of the company behind that app as well as the new video-shooting eyewear – just introduced: There doesn’t seem to be the potential to actually insert ads into the user experience. Instead, it seems the only advertising potential is in how content can be created by the people wearing Spectacles. That feeling is apparently supported by this Adweek story.

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What I mean is that ads won’t – at least what I’ve read – be displayed to Spectacles wearers. The person with the Spectacles on won’t have ads appear in their line of sight. That’s because, unlike the Google Glass being used by everyone as a point of comparison, it’s not a consumption platform. Instead it’s solely, at least at the moment, a creation tool. You can’t view other people’s Snaps through Spectacles but you can create your own videos. So there’s nothing to display ads against.

That’s a sizable and notable shift in consumer technology, at least in recent history. Phones and other mobile devices  – oh, and computers as a whole – allow you to both create and consume content, with the consumption element almost always ad-supported in some way or another. So having uni-directional device is actually kind of a throwback and it will be interesting to see if a new generation who’s always had a bi-directional experience.

For advertisers, as the Adweek story starts to mention but doesn’t go all-in on, that means the primary way they will get their message inserted in the experience is through “influencer” marketing. They will have to contract with people who have substantial Snapchat followings and get them to create videos promoting their wares. Those videos, though, will still be consumed through the mobile device Snapchat app, not through the Spectacles themselves. There’s no native Spectacles consumption experience.

It’s incredibly likely that this will change over time, with Spectacles evolving to be more full-service and including both consumption and creation. When that happens it’s easy to expect that ads will become a big element, likely with sponsored filters that can automatically be placed over what the person is watching. There are all sorts of concerns about that, many of which are similar to what were brought up when Google Glass debuted about distracted driving or walking and more. And the privacy concerns are substantial, though at least because Spectacles are single-use it’s safe to assume when someone is wearing them that they’re recording.

For now, though, Spectacles are a device that only sends content in one direction and which has no native ad experience. In order to really thrive, that will need to evolve quickly.

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