Advertising and Marketing in the Metaverse

Advertising and Marketing in the Metaverse

Advertising

The metaverse is hot. One need look no further for proof than the fact that Facebook changed its company name to Meta in October 2021. Consequently, the metaverse is one of the most talked-about topics in business right now. Companies are already figuring out how to make the most of what it has to offer. How might the metaverse help them make money? How might brands embrace advertising and marketing there?

The Metaverse Defined

As was the case with the internet back in the day, new definitions of the metaverse are constantly cropping up, from all quarters. There is a lot of speculation about the metaverse arriving in the future. But the term was actually coined decades ago in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 science-fiction novel Snow Crash. Aspects of the metaverse — a shared virtual world where people can work, play, and live through digital twins, or avatars — are here already. Every time someone uses a digital currency, every time someone hangs out on Fortnite or Roblox (gaming is currently a big slice of the metaverse), we’re engaging with parts of metaverse (they’re just not yet connected seamlessly).

As the metaverse takes shape, savvy brands are already planting a flag in this rich terrain. And to do so, they are looking at things a tad differently. Brittan Heller, counsel with the American law firm Foley Hoag, puts it this way: “When you think about advertising in XR [extended reality, one of the building blocks of the metaverse], you should think about it as placement in the product instead of product placement.” Heller may be thinking of luxury brands like Louis Vuitton or Marc Jacobs, which have designed digital products for the game Animal Crossing. Or Balenciaga, which has collaborated with Fortnite to drop exclusive wearable skins for in-game characters. She notes, “An ad in virtual reality may look like buying a designer jacket for your digital avatar [but] that’s an ad for a clothing company that you are wearing on your body.” Coveted digital fashion sometimes bests even real-world counterparts: in Roblox’s virtual world, for example, a digital-only Gucci bag sold for more money than the bag would have netted in the physical world.

Some metaverse advertising, of course, falls back on real-world models. Consider games like Tiki-Taka Soccer and FIFA Mobile, which are already incorporating billboards as part of the game universe. The billboards are meant to raise awareness —just like the billboards we pass on the highway — and if players wish, they can access more intel about the product.

But there is also a concerted effort to create advertising unique to the metaverse experience. The day when users can interact freely with embodiments of a brand — an avatar for a celebrity or an existing character from, say, Disney — is not far off.

The takeaway: there are already opportunities for brands to flex advertising muscle in the metaverse, and those opportunities are growing exponentially.

What Businesses Should Do

What does this mean for your brand? Does delving into the metaverse make sense for you? As you consider these questions, we recommend that you:

  • Remember your audience first. How attuned are they to immersive worlds such as the metaverse? Is marketing and advertising in the metaverse a good fit for them? Currently, the biggest audience for the metaverse skews young: Gen Zers who have grown up gaming and for whom the intricacies of a virtual world are already familiar. But some brands are addressing this divide by reaching out directly to an older cohort. Roblox, for example, has developed features to appeal to older users. And so, the attendant question to ask yourself is: do you have the energy and resources to think outside the box and woo your audience, no matter what generation they inhabit?
  • Assess your appetite for experimentation. This is a brave new world that’s constantly changing. How comfortable are you with that dynamic?
  • Learn from businesses that have been getting involved in advertising and marketing in immersive gaming worlds, which are, as noted, extremely popular in the metaverse. A really good example consists of brands that have been embracing in-game ads, as we blogged here.

Contact True Interactive

True Interactive knows how to make online advertising deliver measurable results on all platforms and apps. To learn how we can help you, contact us. Learn more about our services here.

How Businesses Are Building Their Brands through “Squid Game”

How Businesses Are Building Their Brands through “Squid Game”

Advertising Branding Marketing

White slip-on Vans have never been so cool. And red light green light? For fans of Netflix’s Korean-language series “Squid Game,” winning that simple childhood contest just took on a whole new meaning. Though it only launched on September 17, “Squid Game” has quickly become Netflix’s most-watched series—ever. Mining themes of economic disparity and the survival instinct, “Squid Game” sets up a disturbing premise: a group of hopelessly indebted people in South Korea are invited to join a tournament of six children’s games to win a pot of cash. The catch? Losers are eliminated—but as the contestants soon find out, that doesn’t mean they just get to take their ball and go home. They are killed off, with the surviving players competing for increasing shares of the loot. Spoiler alert: there will be blood.

 

And audiences don’t seem to mind. Netflix has shared that in the first four weeks after the show’s drop, 142 million households had already tuned in to the dark drama. As early as October 3, Forbes was reporting that “Squid Game” was the number-one Netflix show in a whopping 90 countries. That’s a lot of eyeballs, and the show’s global appeal naturally opened up a huge playing field for businesses to create interesting marketing strategies around the show. But because Netflix doesn’t offer brands an opportunity to run commercials, advertisers have had to figure out some creative ways to tap into this juggernaut. Let’s take a closer look.

Examples of Brands Capitalizing on “Squid Game”

Some brands haven’t had to do much but enjoy the ride. Vans, for example, hasn’t paid for any product placement. But in the show, game contestants are given teal tracksuits and white slip-on shoes to wear during the tournament, a costume that has turned out to be insanely lucrative for Vans. In the two weeks after “Squid Game’s” launch, the American shoe and apparel company reported a jaw-dropping 7,800 percent jump in sales, probably fueled at least in part by a 97 percent increase in online searches for  “white slip-on.”

Other brands have had to be a bit more proactive. Nutter Butter took to Twitter, superimposing its cookie on a “Squid Game” guard’s head and insisting that “We want Nut Game.”

 

Also on Twitter, Heineken used its red star-shaped logo in a nod to one of the show’s tournament games, one in which players, not yet knowing the game rules, choose one shape from a selection of four.

 

They must then extract that shape from where it has been stamped into a “dalgona,” or sugar candy (“The best pick,” Heineken crowed in reference to the star). And Pepsi latched onto the sweet and deadly game with an Instagram post featuring its logo carved into a sugary disk.

Embracing a star from the series has been another way to connect with the show. Louis Vuitton recently announced “Squid Game” actress Ho Yeon Jung as a company brand ambassador. The luxury brand is tapping into her burgeoning popularity on social media channels like Instagram. For context, when the show launched in September, Ho Yeon had 40,000 Instagram followers. Just three weeks later, that number had leapt to 19.1 million. Louis Vuitton clearly took note, and took action, a choice that’s paid off: Ho Yeon’s first post as ambassador earned more than seven million likes in the first few days.

Meanwhile, Netflix, no slouch in the promotions department, has made the savvy move of partnering with another corporate powerhouse — Walmart— to sell merchandise for a number of popular streaming shows including, natch, “Squid Game.” A dedicated digital storefront for Netflix, created by Walmart, is a natural go-to for consumers looking for merch associated with the show: everything from the white numbered tee-shirts worn by “Squid Game” contestants to knit beanies and mugs. This even as Netflix maintains its own line of apparel fans can customize with “designs inspired by the show.”

Lessons Learned

What might your brand take away from the whole “Squid Game” phenom? We suggest that in the face of any hot trend, you:

  • Act quickly. These businesses jumped in right away to capitalize on the buzz appeal of “Squid Game,” timing their marketing with the media frenzy building around the show. Had they waited too long, their marketing would have seemed stale and tired. But by acting quickly, brands like Heineken came across as relevant and cool.
  • Pay attention to your tone. “Squid Game,” despite its popularity, is a violent show that might not be for everyone. The brands discussed above figured out how to strike the right tone with their ads—in this case, content that didn’t skew too dark while still being recognizable as being inspired by the series.
  • Trust your audience—and recognize that you don’t have to reach everyone. The visually appealing ads, such as the Pepsi cut-out, come with zero explanation. But if you are a fan of “Squid Game,” you automatically understand the ad’s inside reference to one of the major plotlines. Pepsi trusted “Squid Game” fans to get the joke, even as they accepted that the ads would probably go over the heads of people who hadn’t seen the show.
  • Align with another brand if it makes sense. Netflix’s partnership with Walmart means that “Squid Game” merch reaches a wider audience. Both brands benefit if those beanies fly off the shelves. Likewise, Louis Vuitton’s connection with one of the show’s stars demonstrates relevance—and represents a mutually beneficial partnership.

Contact True Interactive

How to not only tap into trends but make it look easy? Contact us. We can help.

How Businesses Are Navigating Back-to-School Season with Digital Marketing

How Businesses Are Navigating Back-to-School Season with Digital Marketing

Advertising

Back-to-school season is complicated this year. On the one hand, the proliferation of vaccines has created a certain sense of Covid-19 being sometime we can live with. But for kids, there isn’t necessarily a clear-cut “back to normal.” Although teens can be vaccinated, there is no vaccine ready for kids under 12, and the Delta variant is emerging as a real threat. Brands find themselves in a situation awkwardly similar to what they faced in 2020: welcoming kids back to school during an uncertain year. Read on to learn how some brands are navigating this delicate situation in their back-to-school digital marketing.

Embracing the Positive

The American Eagle campaign Future Together. Jeans Forever underlines the brand’s established mission of positivity. In a 30-second spot featuring singer Addison Rae and actors Caleb McLaughlin, Jenna Ortega, Chase Stokes, and Madison Bailey, the message is clear: this fall, students can at least look forward to the joy of being in the same room with their friends at school. And with the return to in-person learning, American Eagle is leaning in to the denim category. The implicit message? Now that students are back in the classroom, those go-to sweatpants that have dominated for the last 18 months of Covid and remote learning might just get kicked to the curb in favor of fun new styles—denim in particular.

The Joy of Creativity and Personal Expression

As reported in Ad Age, last year Dick’s Sporting Goods found success partnering with TikTok, and the retailer is returning to the platform as they double down on back-to-school messaging for 2021. This time around, the focus is on a “Lock In” TikTok challenge that underlines creativity: e.g., creators spend an evening in a Dick’s store and put together their own styles and content. As Ed Plummer, Dick’s chief marketing officer, explains, “We basically give them the keys to the store to see what they can come up with from a style perspective and share that with their followers.” The campaign’s energy and optimism not only reaches young consumers where they like to hang out (TikTok), but it underlines a simple message: joy in personal expression is a constant, no matter the uncertainty of the times.

Pop Art

Pop-Tarts also have personal expression on the brain. In a collaborative first for the Kellogg brand, Pop-Tarts partnered with Lyrical Lemonade to co-host a pop-up experience in Los Angeles. On August 13, select visitors were invited to decorate traditional back-to-school gear—from backpacks to notebooks and sneakers—with Pop-Tart-inspired art. The partnership gives Pop-Tarts greater access to the Gen Z demographic, as Lyrical Lemonade enjoys a wide social following. Case in point: the announcement of a limited-run Pop-Tarts x Lyrical Lemonade Toaster Pastry—the flavor is Lemon Creme Pie—generated more than 115,000 likes within 24 hours. And the benefits appear to go both ways. As Lyrical Lemonade founder Cole Bennett said in a press statement, “It’s been a while since everyone has been back together in school, and we loved the idea of collaborating with Pop-Tarts to get creative and make that first day back amazing.”

Meet the Parents

Meanwhile, Kohl’s recognizes that it’s not just students embarking on a new chapter: parents used to having their kids at home may be making their own transitions right now. As part of a campaign meant to run earlier and longer than past initiatives, a 30-second Kohl’s spot depicts a father dropping his son off at school. As the dad sits in the car singing along to a Zombies song, the son circles back to wish him a “great first day.” Greg Revelle, chief marketing officer of Kohl’s, notes, “It’s not just about your kid going back to school but all the changes going on for parents and loved ones as well.”

Lessons Learned

What can we learn from these brands?

  • For starters, make no mistake: even during uncertain times, it’s okay to be upbeat. By now people are accustomed to living with uncertainty. And as Ad Age points out, consumers are “craving optimistic, forward-looking marketing.” By focusing on the positive aspects of this new school year, American Eagle generates excitement—and hope.
  • That said, be careful not to promise “back to normal.” Celebrating rekindled friendships recognizes that one aspect of school is coming back for many kids via in-person learning. But ads that promise a complete return to the way things were before the pandemic risk coming across as tone deaf. Consider the Pop-Tarts campaign that celebrates fun—in the Now.
  • Use digital wisely to appeal to the digital generation. As Dick’s Sporting Goods shows, relying on TikTok is a smart play that will reach teens and inject a sense of fun that we don’t always associate with back-to-school.
  • Finally, even as you reach out to Gen Z for back-to-school, don’t neglect other demographics. Kohl’s wisely gives a tip of the hat to the parents who are helping to keep things stable during Covid—and beyond.

Contact True Interactive

Trying to figure out how to navigate this not-quite-post-Covid era in digital? Contact us. We can help.

How Twitch Is Appealing to Advertisers

How Twitch Is Appealing to Advertisers

Advertising Gaming

Twitch, the popular streaming site owned by Amazon, is expanding marketing partnership opportunities beyond its competitive esports channel, Twitch Rivals. The gaming platform’s new Official Marketing Partner program creates branding opportunities for /twitchgaming, a Twitch channel dedicated to non-competitive gaming. Already Chipotle and Ally Financial have signed up. Does it make sense for your brand to join the party? Read on.

How Twitch Has Grown during the Pandemic — and Who Likes Twitch

Twitch has definitely enjoyed a growth spurt. The platform exploded in popularity during the pandemic, as gaming and streaming became reliable sources of entertainment in a world locked down against the virus. According to Ad Age, “Twitch has nearly doubled its daily visitors and minutes watched since the pandemic began.” That translates into an average of 30 million visitors daily — up from 17.5 million in 2020. This growth is good news for brands who want exposure. In January alone, according to Modern Retail, Twitch users devoured more than two billion hours of content.

Who are these viewers? Ad Age reports that almost half of Twitch users are 18 to 34 years old; 21 percent fall into the 13-to-17-year-old demographic. That’s a big piece of the Gen Z/Millennial pie. Lou Garate, the head of global sponsorship sales at Twitch, also notes that Twitch followers tend to be online loyalists who seek nearly all their entertainment online, making them hard to reach via more traditional advertising channels.

Twitch Expands Marketing Opportunities

Given the elusive nature of that demographic, perhaps it was inevitable that Twitch would grow as a branding destination. At first, only brands with a clearly defined tie to gaming tested the waters: headphone companies like Hyper X, for example, and energy drink brands like Red Bull and Monster tested out promotion with campaigns that proved popular. Doritos also was in this vanguard, in 2018 sponsoring a Twitch competition called the Doritos Bowl.

But while headphones and snacks make perfect sense when it comes to partnering with a gaming platform, brands in other arenas are starting to explore how they might connect with Twitch users. Understanding that Twitch actually supports an increasingly diverse array of niche communities has been key. Chess, for example, is popular on the platform. So is anime.

As a result, any number of brands are starting to think about partnering with Twitch. Consider Lexus, which in January recruited the Twitch community to create a custom version of its 2021 IS sedan. Twitch streamer Fuslie hosted a livestream in which viewers could vote on modifications to the car, including gaming consoles and car wrap; more than half a million viewers showed up. A second livestream on February 17 disclosed the car’s design.

Brands like Chipotle have certainly seemed to do their homework in order to find a home on Twitch. According to a 60,000-person user panel called the Twitch Research Power Group, a whopping 97 percent of Twitch users eat at quick service restaurants — 57 percent of them on a weekly basis. In addition, arbiters like McKinsey & Company have identified Gen Z (a significant percentage of the Twitch audience, as noted above) as the “True Gen,” a generation dedicated to, among other things, ethical concerns. Chipotle speaks to these factors in a Twitch campaign that reaches out to Gen Z in particular in a meaningful way. As Ad Age reports, Chipotle will in coming months sponsor custom segments in /twitchgaming show The Weekly, including a “Chipotle Build Your Own PC” segment in which guests build their own PCs —much as customers build custom burritos at Chipotle. After the segment, Twitch and Chipotle will give the equipment to a nonprofit.

Twitch’s expanded Marketing Partners Program

Let’s take a closer look at the new Official Marketing Partner program. The Chipotle campaign is part of this effort, which essentially has meant Twitch opening up sponsorship opportunities on its /twitchgaming channel. “With the launch of this new Official Marketing Partner program, we’re taking a unique approach in sponsoring non-competitive content, to reach a new audience of elusive gaming enthusiasts on /twitchgaming,” Garate explains. The new program demonstrates Twitch’s desire to work with brands and connect them with gamers across the platform — not just those interested in Twitch Rivals’ esports content.

What Brands Should Do

 Interested in exploring opportunities to partner with Twitch? We recommend the following:

  • Understand your audience. As noted above, the demographic skews young, and they don’t necessarily respond to traditional advertising. Take a page from Chipotle’s book and get to know the Twitch audience — and how to speak their language.
  • Understand the nuances of Twitch. As Jamin Warren, the founder of the gaming-focused consultancy Twofivesix, notes, “Of all the platforms that we look at, Twitch is really one of the most interesting, and it’s the most complicated as well.” One reason? Part of Twitch’s draw stems directly from the appeal of its streamers. Brands launching channels must find authentic, identifiable streamers to run their accounts. Otherwise, they may find themselves speaking into the void.

Brands also need to get comfortable with the nature of this beast: livestreams are by definition hard to script, and the best content tends to be spontaneous. Maintaining that spontaneity while keeping things from going off the rails can be an art — and one that brands need to learn in order to thrive on Twitch.

Contact True Interactive

Does it make sense for your brand to reach out to the Twitch audience? Contact us. We can advise.

Why In-Game Ads Are Popular

Why In-Game Ads Are Popular

Advertising

In-game ads are hot! According to a new study conducted by The Drum/YouGov, 37 percent of mobile gamers say that in-game ads have predisposed them to make a purchase during the past three months. Moreover, almost a quarter (23 percent) of those polled indicate that in-game ads have inspired them to make multiple purchases. Let’s take a closer look at what this news might mean for your brand.

What Is an In-Game Ad?

In-game ads have evolved to the point where, as discussed in Business of Apps, “we are referring to ad content that seamlessly blends into the gaming environment.” What does this look like, exactly? Essentially, in-game ads can be incorporated into the same places you might see ads in the real world. Sports games like Madden NFL, for example, might feature ads on in-game stadium signage or player jerseys; other games might showcase ads on billboards or storefronts. It’s important to note that “blended” in-game ads like this aren’t meant to be clickable, any more than one can “click” on a billboard when driving by on an expressway. They exist, in the game environment, solely to create brand awareness and affinity. The idea is that intent gamers, presumably hyper-focused on every detail on the screen, will also absorb the ad content.

Brands are already capitalizing on the opportunities inherent in in-game ads. Consider Mastercard, which in a move mimicking real-life exposure, placed its branding on digital banners in Riot Games’ League of Legends Summer Split tournament. As Naz Aletaha, Riot Games Head of Global Esports Partnerships, notes, “SR Arena Banners put our partners’ brands directly on the field of play, creating an immersive experience that echoes the energy found in major sports arenas.”

How Much Money Do In-Game Ads Generate?

Art imitating life in this way can be lucrative. As reported by Technavio research, the in-game advertising market is set to grow by $10.97 billion during the 2020-2024 time window. The study cites an increase in the number of gamers, plus the affinity growing between advertisers and video game companies, as driving the projected growth over the next few years.

In-game ads are certainly poised to capitalize on the growth of the stay-at-home economy as digital, even post-pandemic, becomes a bigger focus of our lives.

What Did the Drum/YouGov Study Say?

For some context, let’s look more closely at The Drum/YouGov study mentioned earlier. The poll of 1,200 U.S. adults, conducted on May 19, 2021, revealed some interesting stats: of those who were inspired to spend because of an in-game ad, half were male, half were female, and the most likely demographic to make a purchase was the 30- to 35-year-old bracket. Although some gamers are still disinclined to succumb to an actual purchase, nearly two in five (39 percent) of mobile gamers say they at least remember the brands they saw, very well or fairly well. (Again, the Millennial market dominated this response, with 53 percent recalling an ad.)

Nicole Pike, YouGov’s global sector head of esports and gaming, sums it up: “In-game advertising, especially on mobile, continues to be a severely undertapped ad medium relative to the time and money investment we see from gamers.”

What Should Brands Do?

What to make of this intel? We recommend that you:

  • Know your audience—and where to find them. As we’ve blogged, gamers are a diverse audience. Know their habits and their passion points. Above all, understand what games your target audience enjoys. Are you reaching out to moms looking to relax with a game like Monument Valley 2? Teens invested in the worldbuilding aspects of Minecraft? Knowing where to find your audience is key.
  • Know your gaming opportunities. It’s important to understand how and where your in-game ad will appear. And make sure the game is a good fit for your brand overall. You may not want, for example, your ad to appear in a game like Grand Theft Auto if its content (violent adult themes) is in direct conflict with the brand your company has created.

Contact True Interactive

Eager to learn more about the opportunities gaming—and in-game ads—can afford your brand? Contact us. We can help.

Why YouTube Shorts Matters to Brands

Why YouTube Shorts Matters to Brands

YouTube

TikTok has another challenger. As we’ve blogged, apps like Snapchat are creating their own short-video-making platforms in a bid to carve out space in an increasingly crowded field. Now Google’s YouTube has joined the party with YouTube Shorts. Read on to learn more about Shorts and what they bring to the table—for users, and for brands.

What Are YouTube Shorts, and How Do They Stand Out?

If you are familiar with TikTok or Instagram Reels, you’ll get the basic premise of YouTube Shorts: using the YouTube app, people can quickly and easily create short videos of up to 15 seconds. The videos are created on mobile devices and viewed, in portrait orientation, on mobile devices. And once you open one short, you essentially access the motherlode in that videos start playing one after the other. Just swipe vertically to get from one to the next.

Shorts, much like TikTok, provides editing tools you can use to flex creative muscle. Users can string clips together. Adjust playback speed. Add music and text. And as YouTube has blogged, creators can play off of existing content: “[Y]ou can give your own creative spin on the content you love to watch on YouTube and help find it a new audience—whether it’s reacting to your favorite jokes, trying your hand at a creator’s latest recipe, or re-enacting comedic skits.” (Notably, creators are in control of their material; they can opt out of having their long-form videos remixed in this way.)

Shorts comes to the U.S. in beta after a beta launch in India last fall. The platform enjoyed success in India, finding a comfortable niche in the wake of the TikTok ban there. Now Shorts brings its opportunities to the States.

Why Did YouTube Launch Shorts?

Shorts is YouTube’s response to the huge popularity of short-form video. Who wouldn’t want in on that action? But Shorts is also meant to be the answer to a problem faced by new creators: it’s hard to break into the video-making world. According to YouTube, “Every year, increasing numbers of people come to YouTube to launch their own channel. But we know there’s still a huge amount of people who find the bar for creation too high. That’s why we’re working on Shorts, our new short-form video tool that lets creators and artists shoot snappy videos with nothing but their mobile phones.”

Think of it as users being able to dip a toe in creative waters without having to film and edit a full video. And because Shorts are counted like regular video views, creators hoping to make money from YouTube by getting accepted into the YouTube Partner Program (YPP) can use Shorts to do so. Users must accrue 4,000 valid public watch hours in the previous 12 months to quality for YPP, and Shorts are an accessible way to meet that threshold. YouTube has also blogged that they are taking a “fresh look at what it means to monetize YouTube Shorts and reward creators for their content,” hinting at additional opportunities to come.

Why Do YouTube Shorts Matter to Brands?

The opportunity YouTube Shorts represents for creators is good news for brands, too. Why? For one thing, creators are potentially powerful sources of great user-generated content that can benefit brands – for a recent example, consider the incredible visibility that skateboarder Nathan Apodaca created for Ocean Spray and Fleetwood Mac with a TikTok video.

It’s worth mentioning that apps like YouTube Shorts are of particular interest if your target market is Gen Z or Millennials. As noted by iabuk.com last fall, short-form video is surging in popularity, particularly with these generations.

What Brands Should Do

  • Stay abreast of new apps like YouTube Shorts. Knowing what’s out there informs decision-making about where and how you want to make your brand known.
  • Understand how your target audience communicates. Are you courting Gen Z or Millennials? Go where they are. And as noted above, platforms for short-form video are a logical place to be.
  • Consider whether creating your own shorts makes sense. As Social Media Examiner notes, brands that create their own Shorts stand to get some attention: “for businesses, the strategy right now with Shorts is to get exposure and hopefully subscribers to your channel so people will see some of your content outside of the short shelf.” Meanwhile, this post from HubSpot will help you think through how to get started with YouTube Shorts.
  • Look at the big picture: YouTube Shorts is yet another example of the proliferation of short-form video. If you have not done so already, adapt your video content strategy for both brief snippets (e.g., teaser content) and longer-form content (e.g., educational tutorials).

Contact True Interactive

How can short-form video elevate your brand? Contact us. We can advise.

Snapchat Spotlight: Advertiser Q&A

Snapchat Spotlight: Advertiser Q&A

Social media

When Snapchat launched in-app feature Spotlight in November 2020, the company opted to flex its muscles — and take on short-video-making app TikTok—by making daily disbursements of cash to participating Snapchatters. The rationale: to spark public creativity, incentivize public sharing amongst influencers, and build a following. Their efforts were successful: by January, the platform had grown to more than 100 million monthly active users. Curious to learn more about Spotlight and why it matters to your brand? Read on.

What Is Snapchat Spotlight?

Spotlight is a space within Snapchat where users can watch a vertically scrolled feed of short, engaging videos (up to 60 seconds long) backed by music. Rather than the day-in-the-life content traditionally associated with Snap, Spotlight offers content with a meme-like, jokey feel.

Why did Snapchat launch Spotlight?

Spotlight’s raison d’être may go beyond the obvious move to take on behemoth TikTok. It is also the place where Snapchat can branch off from the strategies that made the app a household name in the first place. Snap’s mandate since its inception in 2011, of course, has been privacy first, with photos and videos simply disappearing in 24 hours. It was a successful formula, and one that completely reimagined what online sharing could be. But the app seems to be acknowledging that some permanence can be a positive: with Spotlight, viewers can tap on favorite videos and save them.

Why Is Spotlight Popular?

Although comparisons to TikTok are inevitable, users claim the two are in fact different beasts. As Ad Age reports, CJ OperAmericano, who goes by her online name, explains that “Snapchat and TikTok have pretty different users and I am seeing higher rewards for originality and creativity on Snapchat Spotlight. You’re more likely to pop off on an original idea [on Spotlight] than just following along with a cookie cutter trend like you are on TikTok.”

Another difference: unlike TikTok, Spotlight does not have a function allowing public like counts or comments. But right now contributors are being rewarded another way. Based on a formula which includes number of views and length of views, among other factors, Snap is recognizing Spotlight contributors by awarding cash to the most popular creators. Users might make a minimum of $250 per Snap, but if someone has an extremely viral video, they could take home a big chunk of the pot. The approach has gotten attention because it’s not just existing influencers and TikTok stars who are benefitting. Average users are also making a profit after their videos go viral.

Consider Andrea Romo, who works at a Lowe’s in Albuquerque. Romo was shocked to find out that her Spotlight video—her sister deep-frying a turkey at Thanksgiving—was so popular it had earned her approximately half a million dollars. “You don’t have to ask to be paid, you don’t have to join any program, you just post a video and if it does well you get paid,” 19-year-old Dax Newman, a ceramist who has made about $30,000 on Snapchat, tells The New York Times.

What Should Brands Know?

Spotlight doesn’t show ads yet — with the operative term being “yet.” While Snapchat is, for the time being, simply giving Spotlight space to become a habit with users, the early surge of creators are exactly the people brands partner with and sponsor online. And it could be argued that Spotlight’s egalitarian approach — the fact that you don’t have to be a celebrity or have famous parents to get a leg up — is bringing attention to a new crop of budding influencers. Influencers that brands can look forward to partnering with down the line: according to Ad Age, “advertisers expect to be able to tie into the program and its creators in the future.”

Contact True Interactive

While Spotlight may not be open to advertising yet, digital opportunities for brands abound. Eager to learn more? Contact us. We can help.