All Snapchat users knew the day would come when today’s hottest social media app would start getting charged for using their new features. It all started when Snapchat announced on October 14th, 2014, that they would start showing sponsored ads within the application’s My Story section. This past September, Snapchat began to charge users $0.99 cents to replay a snap for a 3rd time. On November 13th, Snapchat launched their “lens store” that lets you purchase lenses for $0.99 and keep them forever.
With over 1 million snaps a day and over 100 million daily users, Snapchat is now a part of people’s every day life. “We think we can build really cool stuff people want to pay for,” Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel told TechCrunch in 2013. “The app is now a part of everyone’s day-to-day. That means that they will — I at least would — pay for a more unique experience.” In a short two years, Snapchat’s paid replay and lens features are the result of Spiegel’s assumptions.
The lens store is slightly hidden. You can find the lens store past the free lenses inside Snapchat, which you access by long pressing on your face when in selfie mode. Once you purchase the lens, you will see your lens pop up between the free and paid lenses.
TheVerge mentioned in an article that there will be 30 paid lenses available each day as well as 7 lenses a day for users to enjoy for free. Paid lenses are now available in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and a handful of other European countries. They plan to introduce the paid feature to more countries in coming months.
Charging for replays and now lenses will become Snapchat’s new source for income. Of course, with new paid features for users come new paid advertising opportunities for brands. The first advertiser to buy Snapchat’s sponsored lens was Fox Studios. Fox purchased the lens to promote the Charlie Brown Film, “The Peanuts Movie,” that come out on November 6th.
The soft push for monetizing the app is an expected next step for Snapchat. Their $16 billion valuation isn’t going to pay for itself, especially since the company’s expenses have been shown to outweigh its income. It is a common occurrence for venture-backed start-ups to experience an overburdened balance sheet during a growth phase. However, the three-year-old social media application is expected to bring in $50 million in revenue this year, most of which will come from advertisers.