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Snapchat Intros Lens Creative Partners Program

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Snapchat has launched a global Lens Creative Partners program, designed to connect brands with augmented reality (AR) experts and Lenses creators. The program certifies 30+ creators, from large agencies to expert individuals, who’ve been building engaging, immersive AR Lenses for Snap since the launch of Lens Studio. In total, Snapchat expects to onboard 100+ creators over the next several months.

Snapchat aims to give brands easy access to expert AR ad creators, no matter their budget, brand, or location. By expanding its network of skilled creators, Snapchat is continuing to lower the barrier for brands to create and run sponsored AR, while simultaneously championing (and helping monetize) the creative AR community. These certified creators are experienced in developing quality AR, and have completed a rigorous course about the development process, creative best practices, ad policies and buy models for sponsored AR Lenses on Snapchat.

Within the Middle East, agencies such as Leo Burnett, TBWA and Saatchi & Saatchi have already come on board as Lens Creative Partners.

AR on Snapchat

Augmented Reality is a key part of the Snapchat app — over 70 million people play with AR “Lenses” on the app per day. Each of those daily users average 3 minutes doing so, which adds up to 500 years of daily AR play time on the app.

The Lens Studio ecosystem is also thriving. To date, over 250,000 Lenses have been submitted through the tool, which have been viewed by Snapchatters over 15 billion times.

This is because Snapchat’s home screen is a camera that invites users to create, rather than more passively scroll through a feed of content. That design choice helped Snapchat pioneer ‘talking with pictures’ (a core use of the app), and popularize augmented reality for the masses – like the famous puppy face or dancing hot dog.

Lenses became a viral hit for advertisers in late 2015, as millions of users began choosing to play with brand campaigns that turned their heads into tacos, dunked them with Gatorade, and so on. Lenses can massively boost awareness or sales for a brand, product, film — as the average user plays with a Lens for 10-15 seconds, and can then send that fun Snap to their friends, which is a powerful recommendation.

Snapchat has continued to evolve the format, launching 3D World (object) Lenses last year after the success of the famous dancing hot dog Lens. In April, the company launched ‘Shoppable AR‘, a new type of AR Lens advertising that in addition to boosting awareness, adds a button users can tap to browse a product page, download an app, or watch a movie trailer. This feature, combined with the Snap Pixel released for all advertisers in June, allows advertisers to measure the return on their investment by tracking the purchases made after engaging with the AR ad.

Adweek wrote on the highly efficient pricing and ROI this summer, now that Lenses have a full suite of targeting and measurement: “Advertisers can pay between $10 and $14 for 1,000 AR lens plays with no minimum ad buy. Another option is a Snap ad that requires users to swipe up to unlock an AR feature. Those are even cheaper, ranging between $3 and $5 per 1,000 impressions.

According to Nielsen Catalina, the campaigns seem to work. The measurement company—which recently expanded its partnership with Snap for increased ad-targeting—measured 22 CPG brand campaigns and found an average sales lift of 10 percent. Nielsen’s in-app polling also found that lenses increased ad awareness by 19 points while also increasing brand lift by 7 points.

“We are excited to be a launch partner for the Creative Lens Partner programme with Snapchat. AR offers us the opportunity to bring ideas to life in more unexpected and immersive ways, and we’re thrilled to be partnering with Snapchat to bring their knowledge and expertise in-house across our region,” said Noah Khan, Regional Head of Digital and Innovation – CEE, Africa and Middle East, TBWA.

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UAE Entrepreneurs Launch Private Messaging App

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UAE-based entrepreneurs have launched a private messaging app, which enables users to send voice and written messages that disappear as soon as they are sent, read, and played. “The application called Oh!Message, brings users back to the classical period of simple communications tools, but by using the best privacy-enhancing features, to be the first chat application with this high privacy developed in the ME region by Arab expertise,” said Mohammed Othman and Haian Nayouf, the makers of the app.

With this free app, the sent message will disappear from the sender’s account after 10 seconds if it is read by the recipient or not, and it will also disappear from the recipient’s account after 10 seconds of opening or playing it. The message will be destroyed completely within the application and will not be stored on the app servers. Each written message is limited to 100 characters while the audio message is 10 seconds.

“Oh!Message is end-to-end encrypted but it has also other features that make it the most private app among messaging apps,” said Engineer Mohammed Othman, Co-Founder and Chief of Technology at Oh!Message. “In this app, which is available in Apple and Android stores, the user doesn’t appear online while using it, and his/her location is not tracked.”

“The first period of the app launch is in the UAE, the Gulf region, and Arab countries,” said Haian Nayouf, Co-Founder and Chief of Communications at Oh!Message. “The UAE is the capital for talent, companies, and investments in the areas of digital and technical excellence globally, and this has greatly motivated us to work on this project in UAE, and the app is the first of its kind in the Arab world with these strong privacy features.”

The app is now available for both iOS and Android devices.

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Taiwan’s First International Streaming Platform Called Taiwan+ is Now Live

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Taiwan Plus (Taiwan+), the first English-language international streaming platform of Taiwan, was unveiled by Vice President Lai Ching-te, Legislative Speaker You Si-kun, Culture Minister Lee Yung-te, Central News Agency (CNA) Chairman Liu Ka-shiang, Taiwan+ CEO Joanne Tsai, and H.E. Ambassador Jasmine E. Huggins of Embassy of Saint Christopher and Nevis at the National Taiwan Museum in Taipei on Aug. 30.

Targeting an English-speaking audience, Taiwan+ consists of media professionals from the U.S., the U.K, Canada, France, and Australia, as well as local industry professionals, who work collaboratively to deliver the latest news about Taiwan, international affairs, and covers a wide range of topics. The platform also sources stories from Taiwan’s public and private media organizations.

Golden Melody-award-winning singer Sanpuy Katatepan Mavaliyw opened the event with a music performance. Held with COVID-19 prevention measures in place, the event was joined by representatives including Izumi Hiroyasu from Japan, Jordan Reeves from Canada, Andrew Wylegala and Don Shapiro from the U.S., and Henry Chang and Giuseppe Izzo from Europe.

H.E. Ambassador Jasmine E. Huggins of the Embassy of Saint Christopher and Nevis in Taiwan said the international video platform is expected to connect Taiwan with the world. President Tsai Ing-wen expressed her pleasure to join the launch of Taiwan+ with a video message, saying “Taiwan+ is an exciting new initiative to tell Taiwan’s story. Generations of Taiwanese fought to transform this country into a vibrant democracy that protects freedom of speech and expression.”

Premier Su Tseng-chang wished the platform success. He stressed that Taiwan is a democratic and free country guided by the rule of law, and cares about universal values of human rights, freedom of speech, and diversity, noting that this is why many countries are willing to make friends and do business with Taiwan. Vice President Lai said, “I hope that the platform can be the starting point from which the world learns about what Taiwanese people think and want, what Taiwan is doing, and what we can contribute to the world.”

Legislative Speaker, You noted that, with China’s intimidation and political oppression against Taiwan, the establishment of Taiwan+ allows Taiwan to tell its stories to the world through its voices. Taiwan+, a project commissioned by the Ministry of Culture to the CNA, marks an important milestone in the country’s history of mass media, Minister Lee said. He expressed his gratitude to legislators and professionals for making this happen.

“I hope to make this platform a form of expansion, connection, and infinite possibilities, just like how Taiwan incorporates ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity, and introduce Taiwan to the world through dynamic storytelling and news,” said Tsai, a senior media professional with over 25 years of experience in international media outlets, such as NBC/CNBC, National Geographic, and Fox International Channels.

The content of Taiwan+ can be played on the Taiwan Plus app or viewed on its website and social media platforms, such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram.

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“Selfdrive” Launches Smart Mobility App

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Selfdrive, an entity of Pinewoods Tech Serve, has launched an all-in-one Smart Mobility App. The app is serving as a game-changer for the car rental space offering its users a seamless, reliable, and convenient mechanism to rent a car on demand. The cutting-edge mobile app provides direct access to dealership fleet to its users, allowing them to rent a car by the day, subscribe by the month, or lease a car up to 3 years, offering complete flexibility in booking duration.

The company to date has served over 50k customers and witnessed a 30% MoM growth in customer base in the past six months. The app is built on a proprietary tech foundation concept, Search – Select – Pay, that uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to match customers’ profiles with the cars that they would like to drive, making the selection process and renting a car absolutely seamless experience.

This app is available to download on Android and iOS, which offers users the option to select from 65 different car models across 15 different car brands from 45 different locations in the UAE within three hours. Some of the key brands available to rent are Nissan, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Renault, Mazda, Infinity, Volkswagen (VW), BMW, and many more.

Speaking about the launch of its app, Soham Shah, CEO, and Co-Founder of Selfdrive said, “As one of the largest car rental service providers in the UAE, we strive to offer exceptional service to our customers every step of the way. We bring together exclusive offers on the app starting from AED 49 per day and AED 999 per month. That’s not all, with the launch of ‘Lease Pro’ in this app, users can now rent a brand new ‘Zero Km’ car under its 12 – 24 – 36 months subscription that would be exclusively registered on demand by the car dealer.”

“The smart mobility platform is a testament of our commitment to curate best deals on cars direct from the dealership, whilst making it possible for anyone to rent a car on demand and get it delivered too. This alleviates the hassle of going through multiple car rental agencies to find the best car models and rates on offer,” added Shah.

The Car rental market accounted for $86 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $131 billion by 2026, projecting a CAGR of about 7% during the forecast period. Selfdrive launched in 2017 is the UAE’s largest car rental tech platform that has crossed 2000 cars on road.

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