Snapchat has just filed for a patent on technology that would allow the growing social network to recognize objects in the images are you posting and show you advertisements based on those objects. Think of it as a visual equivalent of a business buying an ad on Facebook targeting users who like coffee, only in this case rather than basing the ad off a search or method, the ad would be based off the images that the user sees.
So for example, say that Microsoft wanted to buy ads space to target Apple users. They could in theory serve ads to users viewing images on Snapchat in which an Apple product was visible. The patent for this technology was filed in January last year, and was published officially by the U.S. patent office earlier this month, Business Insider was the first to notice the patent and its significance.
Snapchat has been riding a wave of popularity as more and more older users join their younger relatives on the image/video-based social network. The company, like many social media companies before it, has been looking for ways to monetize its free-to-use network of users through ads that businesses can purchase to target users relevant to them.
Snapchat already allows businesses to filter their ads based on a user’s location, and that technology combined with something like this patent, which identifies objects within images and serves ads based on those, could prove to be an incredibly powerful marketing tool for local businesses looking to target people within a specific area.
Businesses would bid auction-style for the right to display their ad on certain objects, similarly to how businesses bid on keywords now on modern ad networks like Google or Facebook.
The potential benefit to Snapchat is immense, and if anything gives you a clue into how much the company thinks this could be worth, in a leaked investor presentation from earlier this year, the company said it aims to dramatically boost revenue from the $59 million earned in 2015 to over $500 million in 2017.
There is no word on when this technology might make its appearance on the social network, and no official comment from Snapchat either. Patented tech often never sees the light of day, but if we had to put our money on it, we would expect to see this one at some point down the line. If this technology was one of the dramatic ways the company is looking to boost revenue, as referenced in that leaked investor presentation, then one would have to assume it will be rolled out no later than early 2017.