How to Run a Sponsored Ad Campaign on Snapchat

December 31, 2019

AR Lens Campaigns on Snapchat

Snapchat remains one of the most popular apps in the key 16-24 market, making it into a powerful social media marketing tool with viral potential — in Q2 2019, the average number of snaps created every day grew to 3.5 Bn.

Snapchat’s daily average users (DAU) reached 218M in Q4 2019, with 86M of users located in  North America, 67M in Europe, and 64M in the rest of the world. What’s more, Snapchat’s audience is primarily Millennials and Generation Z – a user base which is notoriously hard to engage. However, Snapchat has proven to be one of the most powerful platforms for advertisers to reach these demographics.

As of March 2019, Snapchat ads reached 75% of US audience of age group 13 – 34, which was more than Instagram; as of Q3 2019, the total time spend by Snapchatters on the discover platform has increased by 40% YoY (source:

Below is a breakdown of how exactly advertising with Snapchat works and some of the most cost-effective parts of their advertising platform.

Two mobile phone frames showing a woman using the Hardee's Sliders Snapchat lens, with an overlaid Snapcode

World Lenses, Face Lenses and Face & World Lenses

Stylistically, Snapchat breaks its ad system down into three general applications – world lenses, face lenses, and face & world lenses. World lenses are taken with the front facing camera. Face lenses are taken with the rear-facing camera, AKA the selfie swivel. Face and world lenses allow for totally unique experiences on both the front and rear-facing camera.

World and face lenses offer distinct opportunities for advertisers. We’ve written about this before – so make sure to check out why Snapchat was one of Gatorade’s big advertising wins during the Super Bowl.

Three mobile phone frames showing examples of a Snap Ad, a Sponsored Geofilter, and Sponsored Lenses

Sponsored Lenses and Snap Ads

For many, Snap Ads are a full screen advertisement which pops up in-between flipping through friends’ stories or other content. These Snap Ads start at $3,000 per month even without factoring in agency costs or content creation.

Sponsored Lenses are another area entirely. Audience targeted lenses start at $40 per day plus an agreed upon cost per impression rate of $8 to $20. This price varies depending on the day of the week. Fridays and Saturdays often command a higher rate, and holidays or specific events are several steps higher up.

The Snap Ad to Lens Format

The Snap Ad to Lens format requires viewers to swipe up on the ad to open an interactive AR lens experience.

Prices for augmented reality ads start at $3 to $8 per impression. Even better, the daily cost using Snapchat’s self-serve platform can easily be as low as $100 per day. This is much more affordable than a Sponsored Lens or a traditional Snap Ad.

One of the best examples for a Snap AR campaign came from BMW. Viewers could swipe up and go to a virtual showroom where they were able to inspect a BMW X2, not to mention check out everything from the hubcaps to the detailing on its grill.

But Snapchat hasn’t stopped with virtual product tours. They’re also pushing new e-commerce tools through the Snap Store and, perhaps most importantly for targeted advertising, location specific filters.

Three images showing an Under Armour Shoppable Snapchat Lens experience

Shoppable Lenses and E-Commerce

In April 2018 Snapchat introduced a new series of buttons which represent a major shift in advertising tools – especially for anyone interested in Snap Ad to AR. These buttons lend advertisers a variety of options depending on the campaign’s goal.

  • Buy Now (drives purchases)
  • Watch (drives views)
  • Install Now (drives downloads)

Snapchat’s push for more e-commerce is shown best through their partnership with Air Jordans for the launch of the Air Jordan Tinker III sneakers during the 2018 NBA All-Star game. Anyone at the Staples Centre in L.A. was able to wander around and use the world lens to check out a host of location-specific augmented reality features.

At a press conference later that day users were able to scan an in-app QR code. The Tinker IIIs were purchasable exclusively through Snapchat’s Snap Store.

They sold out in 23 minutes.



It’s no secret that Snapchat has been exploring geo-specific companies like Zenly. Snap Map was a game-changer which cost $213 million according Snap Inc.’s SEC filing.

Since then Snapchat has rolled out even more location specific advertising tools.

Advertisers or campaign managers can target their AR ads or lenses to not only states or cities, but locations like beaches or movie theatres too. Snapchat also offers something they call ‘radius targeting’ where brands can target a specific area.

The potential here is almost limitless. Shooting a movie in an area and want to build buzz? Radius targeting. Interested in building hype at a one-night-only premier? Target by location.

We’ve already seen the success of geo-filters through campaigns like Taco Bell’s Cinco De Mayo push or Netflix’s partnership to support the Gilmore Girls relaunch.

Snap Local

Perhaps the most affordable Snapchat ad is a local geofilter.

Reports indicate that these can be as cheap as $5 per 20,000 square feet. With that said, this price can easily balloon to $20,000 or so depending on its targeted radius not to mention if it’s on a holiday.

Local, on-demand geofilters are open to everyone provided they have the app. It’s the perfect tool for testing what might one day turn into a National geofilter or to simply stretch some creative muscles. For a primer on how to get cracking check out buffer’s article for details.

Snap Back to Reality

So now that we know what our options are, how do we generate targeted content?

Thanks to Snapchat’s 2017 partnership with Oracle Data Cloud advertisers now have access to out-of-app browsing information provided users haven’t opted out. Using Snap Pixel, which is very similar in user interface to Facebook Pixel, you can get a better handle on your customers’ interests.

Looking to learn more about Snapchat lenses? Check out more branded AR lens campaigns here.

Interested in taking your ad-game to the next level? Reach out to our team to learn more about creating a custom AR experience for Snapchat!

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