Instagram launches Face Filters in another blow to Snapchat

Guess who’s just unveiled a new app feature that is eerily similar to Snapchat’s selfie features. That’s right, Instagram.

The imaging app has added eight “Face Filters” which add special effects to user selfies, such as butterflies, crowns, birds and other things.

When a user opens the camera and taps the new face icon to the bottom right of the screen, Face Filters will become active. They can be used with both the front and rear camera of a smartphone.

Trey Stout, Chief Technology Officer, for ScribbleChat, commented:

“Advertisers are always seeking new ways to speak to hard-to-reach audiences. Novel features like filters let brands get their message across where people are already communicating. Do you want to watch a 30 second movie about how great some hamburger is? Or just throw one into a picture for added comic effect? Blurring the line between content and ad is the future of advertising.”

In addition, the update adds a Rewind mode for videos to enable users to play videos backwards for special effect. Hashtag stickers have also been added for tagging related content that takes users straight to the suggested content page.

But that’s not all. Instagram launched a brush that erases drawn effects. The app recommends using the eraser more creatively by covering a photo in colour and then erasing sections to reveal what’s underneath.

Instagram is on track to position itself as a leader in visual communication. A spokesperson said:

“There’s a lot of exciting work being done around augmented reality. We’ve heard from our community that they want more creative ways to share everyday moments and engage with friends. With face filters, they have more tools than ever at their fingertips, and all in one place.”

Face filters were one of the last features unique to Snapchat. That begs to question what reason Snapchat users may now have to choose the app over Instagram. Already, Instagram Stories users outnumber Snapchat Stories with 200 million daily users to 166 million total users.

 

Whilst the move is a blow to Snap Inc. and its shareholders, it can also be seen as testament to Snapchat’s remarkable creativity. However, Stout cautions that measurement of Snapchat ads is likely to be an issue for many advertisers:

“I’m quite bullish on Snapchat because of a nuance in measuring usage. Other platforms can tout better Monthly Active Users (MUA), but they suffer in Daily Active Users (DIA). The difference is subtle but important. MUA may only use your platform two or three times a month, and they get grouped in with the people who use it 15 times a day. DAU for Snapchat is the metric to watch. And where they seem to be beating the other major platforms. If they can find new opportunities for advertisers to reach their audience without destroying the element of fun, they have the DAU to drive gigantic revenue.”

There is little doubt that Snapchat will continue to innovate and roll out new and exciting feature for users. So perhaps there’s a reason after all to join Snapchat over Instagram. But it seems teens don’t need much persuading. Snapchat has long positioned itself as an app for the under-30s and whilst some of them may flock to Instagram, there is some chance that this rather exclusive group would prefer to stay exclusive. It remains to be seen if Snapchat can boost ad sales and user growth.