The Snapchat lens feature, a virtual playground in the messaging app where people go to adorn their selfies with flower crowns, dog ears and alien eyes, generates more than 30 million snaps a day, according to the service.
Advertisers are looking for ways to join the fun, and in increasingly aggressive ways.
On Monday, Snapchat said that it had united with 20th Century Fox to start the first complete takeover of all of Snapchat’s lenses to promote the release on Friday of “X-Men: Apocalypse.” This means that, for 24 hours, the popular flower crowns and face swap features had to wait. They were replaced by a set of well-known Marvel characters, including Magneto and Storm.
Snapchat would not say how much the takeover cost 20th Century Fox, but reports say that sponsoring a lens can cost $450,000 to $750,000, depending on the day. In return, Snapchat has promised that a potential audience of more than 100 million daily users, most of them 13 through 34 years old, might lend a couple of seconds of highly engaged activity to the task at hand. (In this case, the ideal for the studio would be a user snapping a selfie, using an “X-Men” filter and sharing it with friends. The user could also buy movie tickets using through “X-Men” video ads placed on Snapchat, another first offering of its kind on the platform.)
Sensing uncharted territory and searching for more interactive experiences, brands have been wading into Snapchat since the lens feature was introduced last year. In February, users doused themselves with a bucket of Gatorade 165 million times in two days. In May, Taco Bell sponsored a lens that allowed users to turn their selfies into taco-shaped portraits. According to Snapchat, that lens was viewed 224 million times in 24 hours, and users played with the filter for about 24 precious millennial-world seconds, on average, before sending the photo.
In the case of the “X-Men” takeover, not all users appreciated that their selection was limited to Marvel characters.
“X-men taking over snapchat reminds me of when U2 intruded in all of our lives by placing their album in every iTunes account. Rude,” one observer wrote on Twitter.
But the beauty of Snapchat is that interactions are temporal, and most of the messages sent on the app have a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shelf life, meaning that any annoyance over the themed lenses will evaporate by Tuesday. “X-Men” tickets, on the other hand, will be on sale through the app until Thursday — practically an eternity in Snapchat’s world.
An earlier version of this article misstated the month when Snapchat users doused themselves with a bucket of Gatorade 165 million times in two days. It was February, not last month.