Snapchat is closing its Lens Store on January 8 after just a couple of months of operation despite selling tens of thousands of them to its users each day, according to the company’s support page.
The company says that removing individual sales of lenses at 99 cents a piece to Snapchat users will allow them to focus on their advertising business even if it means its regular users can no longer buy popular lenses that allowed them to vomit rainbows and become monsters with fangs with the click of an on-screen button. Originally introduced as free feature, lenses quickly become a signature part of the Snapchat experience. The quick-moving company soon offered Sponsored Lenses as an option for brands to use in their campaigns.
That offering led to 2015 being a year of truly innovative marketing on Snapchat and lenses were a huge part of that effort. Alongside geofilters that helped brands reach users when they were close to stores and time-sensitive ones that helped users collectively capture a moment in time, Sponsored Lenses let Snapchat offer a lot of creative ways for marketers to engage users with low-effort creativity. Big brands like McDonald’s, Burberry and Audi have jumped on the Snapchat marketing bandwagon. Furthermore, the company reports that 90 percent of those brands come back from another campaign to capture the attention of the platforms 100 million daily active users.
While shuttering individual lens sales means the company is walking away from hundreds of thousands of dollars in regular revenue from its users, lenses were a means of getting the company into the in-app purchase (playbacks are still available to users) and a blazed a path to revenue from brands. When paid lenses were introduced, there was actually some grumbling from its users and so this change may be simultaneously a reaction to that feedback as well as a way to turn over their most creative new lenses to marketers willing to pay top dollar to allow users free use of the feature.
Snapchat assures users that they can keep lenses they already own but sales will cease promptly on January 8. Users probably don’t need to worry, though. If Snapchat is focusing on the value of lenses for marketing, it’s likely that popular lenses will come back with branded backing later in the year.