Snapping up a Fantastic Marketing Opportunity
Snapchat’s metrics cannot be ignored; over 100 million daily users, 10 billion daily video views and a hefty valuation of $16 billion. Many may not remember that the image messaging app initially existed as a private social platform with limited appeal, but since its creation four years ago a wide range of new features have expanded its horizons. Namely, the addition of brand channels, publications and live event coverage transformed the app into a hub of public and private content, meaning the app now appeals to a much broader audience. Of particular interest to marketers considering Snapchat is news of older users flocking towards Snapchat in the same way Facebook has recently seen a surge in popularity amongst over 35s. To the dismay of teenage sons and daughters around the world, Comscore reports that over 35s now account for 14% of Snapchat’s user base, up from just 2% three years ago. With a wider audience and plethora of tools available to deliver marketing messages, many brands are eager to partner with a social media giant at the height of its powers.
After admitting a revenue stream was needed for the company to make money, Snapchat started monetising in 2014, beginning with a paid advertisement for the horror movie “Ouija”. The 20-second trailer shocked users not only for its eerie content, but for the fact users were not accustomed to viewing advertisements on Snapchat at this time. Using a movie for the first venture into paid advertisements proved to be shrewd, as success quelled fears from other companies and industries unwilling to receive backlash normally expected from advertising on a previously ad-free platform.
Naturally, video forms a central part of the Snapchat experience as users are encouraged to publish short clips, known as stories, available to view for up to 24 hours. User-generated stories are watched by a staggering amount of people (forming a substantial amount of Snapchat’s 10 billion video views a day), therefore sponsored stories displaying in between user created content offer further opportunities to deliver marketing messages to the masses. Unsurprisingly, businesses have literally snapped up the chance to integrate sponsored and user content due to benefits of potentially massive reach and influence. (Speaking of influence, Snapchat has been a major contributing factor associated with the recent popularisation of vertical video/content within the technology industry.) The level of intimacy created between brands and consumers on Snapchat also attracts businesses because such a relationship is not easily replicated elsewhere. Further, intimacy creates trust, a key consideration of younger consumers who associate less with traditional media than ever before. If brands hope to regain trust amongst younger consumers, evidently Snapchat is the perfect aid.
Other tools in Snapchat’s arsenal include sponsored filters and lens, which add a humorous and often unexpected spin on proceedings. McDonald's were the first to see value in this proposition when they paid Snapchat to create a geofilter campaign available at over 14,000 U.S. restaurants. As a result, customers of the hamburger chain were able to easily share their location, much to the delight of Ronald McDonald! Additional means of displaying messages revolve around brand channels effectively merging text, sound, photo and video to create engaging content. The bonus linked to this type of marketing is Snapchat’s ability to easily share snapshots of content with friends and family, all within a few taps of a smartphone. Importantly, sharing of this kind is hugely beneficial for advertisers seeking to encourage positive word of mouth communication.
A Potential Pitfall
Snapchat presents a unique opportunity to display marketing messages in an exciting manner, but the company ought to be wary of overstepping the mark. For instance, Snapchat initially claimed ads would not be intrusive, yet sponsored stories have undoubtedly gone against that claim. Unlike other forms of advertising, Snapchat content occupies the full screen of smartphones. Furthermore, it is currently impossible to opt out of viewing sponsored content, the likes of which interrupts the regular flow of user-generated content. For the time being, sponsored content is generally accepted, but in time the public may tire of being force-fed unwanted advertising messages. With this in mind, smart marketers would be wise to constantly analyse and assimilate public opinion on the matter, in order to avoid antagonising or alienating their audience.
To reiterate, Snapchat is a global phenomenon that shows no sign of losing momentum. Continued innovation has transformed a once novelty app into a true marketing power house. Frankly, marketing campaigns should continue to include sizable budgets for Snapchat and CMOs should consider the money well spent.