Jessica Jacobs, Incubeta’s Global Director, Partnerships & Growth, recently spoke with some of the key players in the marketing industry to discuss their views on the future of marketing – including a one-on-one with Fintan Gillespie, Head of UK Enterprise Business Solutions at Snap Inc.


Q: With Snapchat originally launching in 2011, what has made it such an interesting platform for advertisers? 

Fintan: “We really started to flourish when Apple introduced the first ‘selfie enabled’ iPhone, expanding on the notion that communicating via pictures and photos is far more engaging than using the keyboard. The way we communicate has changed, it has become more visually stimulating, and Snapchat provides an amazing platform to keep up with the new communication styles. 

“This has brought our app into the mainstream, with 600 million active users each month, all of whom are engaged – providing marketers with a huge audience they can reach on a highly visual platform that continues to innovate through what the camera can offer and the changes that it will bring to the digital ecosystem.” 

Q: Snapchat was the first app to really introduce the world to Augmented Reality (AR) through its lens, but how important is AR within the marketing industry? 

Fintan: “Every day, 250 million people from our user base play with the augmented reality feature in our app. Whilst they wouldn’t necessarily refer to it, or acknowledge it as AR, it’s just a part of their daily lives playing with our lenses and filters – a core element of the behavior of our users and the way they interact with our app.  

“Like many areas of innovation, it started with fun introductions, such as dog ears or rainbows coming out of your mouth. But fast forward to today and it’s providing huge opportunities to the way we market a product, particularly in areas like retail, as it allows you to showcase these through AR technology. 

“For example, I could point the camera at my feet and try on a new pair of shoes, giving an equivalent experience to going into a shop and physically trying the shoes on. You’re creating an extra level of engagement, driving a more personalized experience for the user, which is known to lead to higher conversion rates. 

“AR can also help to combat the return rates of e-commerce, as users will be able to see how a product might look before making the purchase online, which can save huge amounts of money for retail companies as well as cutting down on environmental costs.” 

Q: What does the future of AR technology hold for Snap Inc. and the marketing industry as a whole? 

Fintan: “There are some very exciting areas of development around augmented reality and what it can bring to the marketing industry. The augmented reality try-on feature is already a powerful tool, bringing products to life in a playful, captivating way, and this is only going to grow – with more realistic representations of a product making them indistinguishable from their physical counterparts. 

“Snap Inc. has also developed a feature which allows you to take a product feed and pull an item of clothing from 2D which then turns it into a 3D item. A user can then take a series of full body selfies and place that item on them – essentially allowing customers to try on any, and every, item of clothing. The scalability of this is massive, allowing retailers to swap clothing models with the customer, bringing a completely new level of personalization to the user experience.” 

Q: What are the barriers businesses might face when trying to introduce augmented reality? 

Fintan: “Building augmented reality used to be an exhaustive process, however there are now services available that allow anyone with a 3D skill set to easily build, preview and ship augmented reality lens. 

“The main barriers holding retailers back is that the industry is yet to fully absorb what AR can mean in terms of business transformation, and there are few companies that have been able to successfully incorporate this technology in-house. There are use cases for all industries however, and augmented reality is far more engaging than many other forms of advertising currently available, with the potential to revolutionize the way in which we shop.” 

Q: What would you say has moved in the digital industry for you? 

Fintan: “Vertical video ads, or 3V, were a big step in Snap Inc’s history. They were originally slammed by a prominent journalist, who suggested no-one would look at an advert vertically, they would just tilt their phone. Today, however, vertical videos are the norm – and it currently feels like the same conversation is being had around augmented reality. 

“Snap Inc continues to innovate in the right way for the industry, now being used in other platforms by major brands, and it’s that innovation which makes Snap Inc such a great company to work for.” 

Q: What are the key trends for 2023? 

Fintan: “Measurement attribution and privacy are massive topics, which will force change in the way companies deal with their media. As we head into a more difficult economic period, profitability becomes key, and we will see a pivot in new measurement paradigms. 

“And, of course, augmented reality and personalization will also continue to develop and shape our approach to e-commerce.” 


The full conversation, along with interviews with Jyri Kidwell, Head of Creative and Creator Partnerships at TikTok, Paul Limbrey Managing Director of Global Client & Agency Solutions at Google and Gemma Greaves, Co-founder at Nurture and Cabal, can be found here. 

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