BMW designed a car inside Snapchat that almost looks real enough to drive.
The carmaker became the first brand to create a 3D augmented-reality version of a product with Snapchat as part of a new ad campaign to launch the BMW X2. On Wednesday, overseas consumers on Snapchat began seeing ads from BMW that link to the augmented-reality version of the new car.
When someone swipes on the ad, it opens the camera and the gold car appears in the frame. A person can then virtually walk around the car and see all its detail.
Snapchat is calling this a way for people to "interact and play with a 3D augmented reality version of a product before considering buying it."
People can also play with the details of the vehicle, like changing its color and size.
Snapchat has built 3D characters, like its animated dancing hot dog mascot, and has sold sponsored characters to advertisers like Bud Light. But this is the first time a product has been translated for the augmented reality world in such a dynamic way, according to Snapchat.
Snapchat was an early innovator in augmented reality, and has been selling lenses to brands for more than two years. Now, all the major platforms—Facebook, Google, Apple—are developing programs to help brands and other creators design content for the augmented world.
Not every brand and ad agency can afford that kind of commitment, but as the technology progresses, the cost of entry is expected to come down. Snapchat says it can take up to two months to design an AR lens. Snapchat can charge more than $500,000 for lens campaigns, according to advertisers.
Snapchat recently opened a lens studio to help more brands and advertisers create for the platform. In the case of BMW, the car company worked with German agency Jung von Matt to create the campaign for the launch of its new car.
The company tapped Snapchat for this particular car launch because it is trying to reach a younger audience. Snapchat is not nearly as big as Facebook or even Instagram, but it boasts an audience base that's obsessively tuned into the app and skews mostly young. Snapchat says it has 178 million daily active users.
BMW has been targeting consumers in Europe with Snapchat ads, and started the campaign with a lens that digitally painted people's faces gold.
Snapchat said those ads reached 13 million people, who tinkered with the gold face-painting for an average of 24 seconds a session.