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Snapchat to charge 99 cents each for visual effects

November 16, 2015 


Snapchat has another way to make money from its disappearing-message app: pay up, and the fun stuff won’t disappear.

The Snapchat app centers on ephemerality; most photos, videos and other content shared on Snapchat become inaccessible if not viewed within a certain time frame.

So does stuff used to garnish posts—including digital stickers called "geofilters" and animations that Snapchat calls "lenses." For example, a banner like "Friday the 13th" strewn across an image, or an add-on to turn your eyes into laser guns. Many disappear after a day or a few.

But on Friday, Snapchat said users could pay 99 cents per lens to keep the lenses they create – forever.

According to Snapchat, the deal is a result of consumer demand, like another recently introduced option for users on the receiving end to purchase three extra views of self-destructing messages for 99 cents.

Snapchat does not reveal usage statistics for lenses, but social media chatter and feedback from the first people to use a lens as a marketing tool indicate that millions of people are decorating their photos with the virtual effects.

"Our community really loves the lenses and have been asking to keep them for longer than a few days," Snapchat spokeswoman Mary Ritti said in an email. "We created the Lens Store to give them that option."

Charging for extra functions is a already a popular revenue-enhancement strategy for apps in gaming, dating and chatting. Dating app Tinder now sits among the top 20 apps by revenue in the U.S. after introducing highly requested features — for a fee —this year. Pricing varies, but users pay about $10 for a package that includes the ability to search for dates around the world rather than just nearby.

Facebook, which got about 90 percent of its revenue this year from ads, is hoping to find ways to make money from its Messenger chat app, too. Snapchat is clearly an inspiration in other ways. This week, Facebook began testing a feature with users in France that optionally self-destructs messages in Messenger after an hour.

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McClatchy-Tribune Information Services