To promote its show Wrench Against the Machine, Esquire Network released a 90-second video of one of the show’s stars riding his motorcycle around town–recorded with Snapchat Spectacles. Viewers experience the first-person viewpoint of the ride, from the slight rumbles and shakes of the video as the rider advances up through the gears, to the sideways glances and head turns as the rider navigates traffic and checks his blind spots.
The video is exhilarating, fun, and different. It’s also raw, wobbly, and a bit choppy. It’s one of the first examples of how brands are approaching Snapchat Spectacles and a hint of what may come as companies try to connect with users through the first true piece of social media hardware.
We’ve Got The Glasses–Now What?
Snapchat Spectacles are not immediately intended for advertising, and the company has made that point clear by making the process of procuring a pair equally difficult for everyone. Kids and top executives alike have been standing in line for hours for their $129.99 shades which have a button on the frames that captures POV video in 10-second bursts.
Even after brands and agencies get hold of a pair (current options include: waiting in line, paying someone to wait in line, or shelling out on Ebay), the next step isn’t abundantly clear. How is the content produced by Spectacles different from the content produced by a phone or GoPro camera? More importantly, how will users relate to Spectacles footage?
Letting the Features (And Users) Guide Us
To understand how Spectacles can help brands tell stories, we have to understand the product’s features as well as Snapchat’s history. Brands that want to leverage the glasses for advertising should capitalize on these four opportunities:
The ability to create truly hands-free, POV video.
Spectacles let users record while their hands are free without putting a camera in between the shooter and the subject. While the glasses are meant to alert others that filming is taking place (the camera lense lights up when recording), they allow life to continue without interruption, whether you are skiing down a hill or dancing at a concert. The resulting videos have a more natural, intimate feel, and allow the user to fully engage in their activity instead of recording a video.
While hands-free video has been offered by GoPro for years, Spectacles offers a much simpler, less expensive, and less sports-driven alternative–one poised to capture a simple moment with friends as much as a hang gliding trip in the Amazon.
For advertisers, POV video is an opportunity to give viewers an experience that they do not have access to: seeing a concert from backstage, speeding around a racetrack, hanging out with a celebrity.
The novelty of circular video.
Circular video, enabled by the camera’s 115-degree angle, is a totally unique feature that lets viewers rotate their phones in a circle while watching a video, giving them more perspective and a different experience each time they watch. The feature, which is one of several alternative video formats available now, makes the content even more immersive than the POV feature alone. According to a Snapchat source, this format will be available in Snap ads in 2017.
The potential for play.
The combined features of circular video and hands-free recording both lend themselves to simple play. Since its inception, Snapchat has a history of being a light-hearted social media platform, and one that has been popular with a younger demographic. From the way they look to the way they function, Spectacles seem to encourage a certain casualness and even silliness, which advertisers should embrace.
In addition, it wouldn’t be surprising if both the circular video and POV filming of Spectacles continued the gamification of social media–advertisers should look for opportunities to create videos that encourage participation, that contain Easter eggs, and that feel more active than passive.
The raw intimacy of Snapchat.
In many ways, Spectacles offers the opposite of traditional advertising. Instead of perfectly-lit, scripted television ads or flawless, photoshopped print ads, Snapchat has always offered raw, intimate snippets of life, almost at the moment they happen. Spectacles video might be obstructed by a wisp of flying hair or interrupted when the wearer is bumped from behind. These imperfections add a realness to the experience that many, especially Gen Z and millennial audiences, appreciate and understand–and that’s key when 37 percent of Snapchat users are 18-24 years old and 23 percent have not yet graduated from high school. It’s long been said that a referral from a real person means more to a consumer than advertising, and Spectacles give advertisers the ability to get closer to that ideal by creating firsthand experiences.
The Beauty of Experimentation
If other social media innovations have taught us anything, it is that the users will guide us. Perhaps the best way to find out how to harness the power of Snapchat Spectacles for advertising is to keep a close watch on how influencers are integrating the hardware into their lives, how they are taking advantage of specific features, and ultimately how they are sharing their lives with others.
Spectacles give us the rare chance to step into someone else’s shoes, 10 seconds at a time. This is a huge opportunity for brands to connect creatively, playfully, and without worrying about perfection.