(Editor’s Note: This is an article that was originally written in 2018 and was accidentally republished today. The information here is old and unreliable. We apologize for the error.)
addon inc (SNAP), the parent company of photo and video sharing app Snapchat, announced on September 24 that it will launch Visual Search. The new feature, first announced in July 2018, will allow smartphone cameras to identify products, songs and barcodes for items on Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) and then connect Snapchat users to Amazon product listings.
(See also: addon inc will launch its gaming platform this fall.)
Snap’s official website made the announcement on September 24:
Starting this week, we’re testing a new way to search for products on Amazon right from your Snapchat camera… It’s super easy to use. Just point your Snapchat camera at a physical product or barcode, and tap and hold on the camera screen to get started.
When the item or barcode is recognized, an Amazon card will appear on the screen, with a link to that or a similar product available on Amazon. Touch your selection to visit the Amazon app (if you have it installed on your phone) or Amazon.com, where you can complete your purchase or continue browsing.
Snapchat: the future is now
We all knew that was coming. Features like visual search have been around since the beginning of social media, but Snap may now be the dominant player in this market. The concept of taking a photo as a direct-to-merchant delivery system, in the end, makes it clear to everyone how they planned to monetize social media platforms without a subscription. Snap’s announcement included a demo of how the feature would work:
Offer could help SNAP bypass FB
Facebook was called out because it copied many of Snapchat’s features, especially on its thriving Instagram platform. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s strategy appears to be working, as Instagram Stories now has twice as many users and is growing six times faster than the Snap app.
A partnership with Amazon would help set the Snapchat platform apart from social media competitors, branching out to identify unique objects and navigation features. Snapchat may also offer affiliate bonuses for purchases made on the global e-commerce platform. Many companies, like Wirecutter, have managed to stay afloat by relying on this referral income by connecting to Amazon products. Snapchat lists around 191 million daily users, which could mean a lot of money for the company.