By Kevin Kelleher
September 24, 2018

Snap, the innovative social-media company that has been under pressure from investors to beef up its financials, is partnering with Amazon to use its Snapchat app as a visual search engine for the ecommerce giant.

“Beginning this week, we’re testing a new way to search for products on Amazon right from the Snapchat camera,” Snap said in a blog post Monday. “Simply point your Snapchat camera at a physical product or barcode, and press and hold on the camera screen to get started.” Doing so calls up an Amazon link to the product or a similar one, which can be purchased through Amazon.

Snap went public at $24 a share with massive losses and intense competition from Facebook, which has brazenly adopted Snap’s most popular innovations like Stories. The stock has lost nearly two thirds of its IPO valuation as the company struggles to increase users and monetize their activity into revenue.

In a way, the partnership marks a step for Snap into two of the internet’s older and more traditional business models: search and ecommerce. The visual search feature with Amazon has been rumored for a few months, after some developers discovered code in Snap’s Android app that tipped Snap’s hand.

Snap has a similar partnership with Shazam, in which songs captured through Snapchat’s camera can be relayed to Shazam’s music database. The feature allows users to discover artists through Shazam and then follow them on Snapchat.

Visual and barcode search is not new for mobile apps. Amazon’s own app includes a barcode scanning feature. In early 2017, Pinterest introduced its Lens feature, which uses artificial intelligence to identify objects and bring up images of similar or related items. Last fall, Pinterest announced an advertising agreement with Target and its Lens feature.

While the visual search feature is unlikely to lure back any Snapchat users who grew disenchanted with the app after a controversial redesign, the partnership with Amazon could bring a much-needed new revenue stream in the form of Amazon affiliate payments or some other revenue-sharing agreement.

In the second quarter of 2018, Snap’s revenue grew by 44% to $262 million in the second quarter, while net loss decreased to $353 million from $443 million a year earlier. Its daily active users increased by 8% year over year to 188 million users.

Snap’s stock fell 2.1% to $8.95 a share on Monday.

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