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Snapchat's ad formats are growing ever closer to its traditional content. A year after debuting its first ad product, one that siloed brands within users' recent-updates feeds, the mobile messaging app is now allowing brands into the actual "snaps" that people send one another.
On Saturday, Snapchat will introduce a new ad format, Sponsored Lens, that will let people add an animated, branded filter to selfies they send with the app. 20th Century Fox will be the first brand to advertise using the Sponsored Lens format.
To promote its upcoming "The Peanuts Movie," the film studio's Halloween-themed Sponsored Lens will add Snoopy dancing in a pumpkin patch in the foreground of people's selfies, Woodstock on their heads and an animated stream of candy corn pouring into their mouths, set the to tune of the "Linus and Lucy" theme. The system uses facial recognition technology to detect a person's face and then applies the filter around it.
For a 24-hour period starting at midnight PT on Saturday morning, users will be able to apply the branded filter to the selfies they send to specific friends on Snapchat or the public Stories they can post for anyone who follows them to see. They can add the filter by pressing down on the screen when using the front-facing camera, which will show a list of lenses at the bottom of the screen. The branded lens will be the first filter to appear in that list.
"To see the Peanuts characters that we know and love so dearly become a part of our community's conversations and moments of self-expression is amazingly fun," Luke Kallis, Snapchat's head of West Coast sales, said in a statement.
A 20th Century Fox spokesman did not respond to an interview request sent Thursday night.
The Sponsored Lens format is the most "native" ad format Snapchat has announced to date, in that it lets marketers into the content users create and share with one another. But it's not the only product in that vein introduced this week.
On Monday, Snapchat debuted the first branded channel within its Discover publisher portal. Similar to the editorial packages published on Snapchat by the likes of BuzzFeed, Vice and ESPN, Sony Pictures Entertainment's branded Discover channel promoted its upcoming James Bond film "Spectre" with a package of behind-the-scenes clips, interviews, music videos and shareable snaps.
In addition to the Sponsored Lens campaign, Fox will also be running Sponsored Geofilters on Snapchat on Halloween that people in the U.S. can add to the non-selfie photos and videos they post on Snapchat. That will add a branded overlay without requiring a person's face to orient around.