How Snapchat Keeps Innovating with Augmented Reality

How Snapchat Keeps Innovating with Augmented Reality

Social media

As we’ve blogged, Snapchat has been demonstrating a profound appetite for investing in augmented reality (AR). It could even be argued that Snapchat is the most AR-driven platform out there, continuing to reimagine what AR experiences might be on mobile and beyond. Let’s take a look at how Snapchat is leading the pack when it comes to AR innovation.

AR: the “Ace in the Hole”

AR is such an area of strength that it might be considered Snapchat’s “Ace in the Hole.” As Medium observes, “One of the reasons that Snapchat is able to carve out its own niche in the increasingly combative social media arena is its singular focus on AR-powered visual communication, which differentiates Snapchat from its competitors.”

Snapchat Data

Recent Developments with AR at Snapchat

That’s a message Snapchat has energetically promoted, and underlined with a commitment to new AR features. Consider the following additions:

  • The Connected Lens allows two Snapchat users to share an interactive AR experience, whether they are sitting side-by-side in the same room or located miles apart from one another (in a demo, Snapchat partnered with Lego to show how two people can build a virtual Lego set together using the AR lens). In a post-pandemic world where social interaction has become a sort of Holy Grail, AR facilitates connection. And that makes AR more relevant than ever right now.
  • Snapchat has also worked to improve Scan, its built-in visual search tool. Scan, which helps users ID everything from songs to car models, now has a new feature, Screenshop, which recommends clothing purchases based on photos of outfits.
  • Snapchat also hasn’t forgotten the importance of sometimes . . . just having fun. The Cartoon 3D Style by Snapchat lens scans your face and then imposes upon it a 3D cartoon look — as if the user has just stepped out of a Pixar film. The lens uses AR technology, and results are impressively realistic.

Calling All Creators

Snapchat isn’t just expanding its AR features willy nilly; its investment in AR is informed by the desire to grow a vigorous creator community. It does this by giving creators useful tools—and the possibility of rewards.

Consider the standalone iOS app, Story Studio, which provides a suite of vertical video editing tools. Or the new Gifting feature, which attracts creators with the promise of monetization. Gifting gives users a way to tip their favorite Snap creators. Also new: a Creator Marketplace, which allows businesses to locate and pair up with Snapchat creators. 

AR Platform for Brands

So, are businesses spiking an interest? There’s certainly reason to: according to Medium, Snap has said its users “are two times more likely to make purchases if they have interacted with a product via AR lens than not.” That’s a powerful incentive for brands.

 

Snapchat data

Some, like Estée Lauder, have already risen to the challenge. According to Medium, the cosmetics giant has been recognized as “one of the first companies to integrate their product catalog through Snapchat’s API, which makes it easy to create and publish new Dynamic Shopping Lenses that include price, availability, and a path to purchase.” Other brands that have successfully employed AR try-ons and shoppable lenses include Gucci, American Eagle, and the eyewear brand Clearly.

What Should Advertisers Do?

Could your brand likewise benefit from a partnership with Snapchat — and an exploration of AR? Ask yourself the following:

  • Might AR provide some fresh opportunities for your advertising? If so, Snapchat is an excellent platform to try it on.
  • What do you know about AR? According to Threekit, a tiny one percent of retailers are currently using AR or virtual reality in their customer buying experience. And yet a whopping 61 percent of consumers indicate that they prefer retailers that incorporate AR experiences. Does it make sense for your brand to get in on the ground floor?
  • Finally, are you hoping to reach the Millennial and Gen Z audiences? The Threekit stats also note that 70 percent of consumers aged 16 to 44 are at least aware of AR. Snapchat — and AR — can be a meaningful way to reach this group.

Contact True Interactive

 AR can be a powerful go-to in a brand’s toolkit. Contact us to learn more. We can help.

Why Triller Is a Thriller

Why Triller Is a Thriller

Mobile

Have you heard of Triller? The video-making social app has been around since 2015, but only recently has it started to show signs of becoming a genuine rival to TikTok. Should marketers care? In a word: yes. Read on to learn why.

What Is Triller?

Like TikTok, Triller is deeply connected to music; introduced as a video-editing service by co-founders David Leiberman and Sammy Rubin, Triller has always employed artificial intelligence (AI) to create music videos. But by 2016, the app had also become a social-networking service that allowed users to follow one another and share the videos they created. Today, users can film different takes of themselves rapping to songs (hip-hop is particularly popular on the app), and then use the AI to cull the best clips and make a professional-looking music video. The editing is pretty painless: as refinery29.com notes, “[Y]ou perform and the app edits your video for you.”

How Does Triller Compare to TikTok?

While similar to TikTok, Triller is trying to position itself as being all about the music. The app has raised investment from artists like Snoop Dogg, and music fans are considered the prime audience for the app. Though some critics point to the fact that Triller has recently permitted users to share a wider range of content, such as quirky videos, the fact remains that the app is music friendly. One example of the emphasis on music: Triller allows users to pull complete songs from their Apple Music or Spotify playlists, as compared to the 15 seconds allowed by TikTok.

Who’s on Triller?

As noted in Fortune, Gen Z is currently “establishing the winners and losers online,” and Triller, which has started to gain traction with Gen Z, may be one of those winners. The app has certainly been flexing its muscles of late, having poached some of TikTok’s influencers. Former TikTok creators like Josh Richards have made the switch (Richards is now also Triller’s chief strategy officer). Other former TikTok luminaries—Noah Beck, Griffin Johnson, and Anthony Reeves—have jumped to Triller and signed on as investors. And performers like Alicia Keys and Eminem have used the platform to create music videos.

Advertising on Triller

According to Digiday, “Triller’s commercial model revolves around letting influencers raise money from fans, advertisers and partnerships with music labels.” The approach can be a lucrative one. As noted in Influencer Marketing Hub, influencer marketing allows brands to reach a young, urban audience through influencers who have already cultivated the kinds of relationships that make marketing successful.

In October, Triller also partnered with ad tech start-up Consumable to sell digital and video format ads meant to be placed between videos on the app. Mark Levin, CEO of Consumable, shared, “This is an exciting partnership given our collective focus on delivering innovative, bite-sized content. It combines Triller’s short-form entertainment with Consumable’s short-form digital advertising to deliver the first social video discovery platform on media publisher websites.” As noted in Business of Apps, the partnership will give marketers a crack at new audiences.

Also notable: advertising on the app can be nothing short of groundbreaking. E.l.f. Cosmetics, which set trends in late 2019 with an innovative TikTok campaign, redefined cool yet again in late 2020 by working with Triller. As e.l.f. CMO Kory Marchisotto noted, the cosmetics brand ended the year with “a big music bang,” partnering with Triller to release an entire holiday-themed album featuring not only danceable electronic beats but also plenty of “e.l.f.-isms.”

Meanwhile, Triller is going to do some advertising on its own in a big way: reportedly, Triller is gearing up for its first-ever Super Bowl ad.

We Recommend

There are lessons to be learned from apps like Triller, as 2021 ushers in a new era of music, advertising, and innovation. We recommend that you:

  • Don’t get complacent. Stay attuned to new apps and new ways of communicating.
  • That means staying in tune with your audience. Are you reaching out to Gen Z? Know what language they speak. As Triller demonstrates, music can be a key way to connect. And ad length may differ depending on your target market.
  • Finally, understand how relationships with influencers can elevate your brand. Influencers can get your product in front of users in an authentic and meaningful way. Think about which influencers might have an organic connection with your brand.

 Contact True Interactive

Triller, of course, is just one way to connect with audiences. Eager to expand your reach in a fresh way that rings true? Contact us. We can help.

Clubhouse: An Exclusive New App Powered by Audio Chat

Clubhouse: An Exclusive New App Powered by Audio Chat

Mobile Social media

Oprah Winfrey is a fan. So is Drake. But the new social media app Clubhouse, developed by Paul Davison and Rohan Seth, is not just for celebrities. Why does Clubhouse matter to brands invested in digital? Read on to learn more.

What Is Clubhouse?

Clubhouse, an audio app that facilitates live conversation, is self-described as “a new type of social product based on voice [that] allows people everywhere to talk, tell stories, develop ideas, deepen friendships, and meet interesting new people around the world.” Conversations are not recorded or saved; when a Clubhouse cyber “room” ends, the conversation is done and gone. Participants can opt to just listen in, or they can spontaneously host their own rooms. And the topics under discussion are eclectic, ranging from talks about music to chats about film, beauty, culture, tech, and more.

Clubhouse is distinguished by the fact that it is an audio-only app. There is no feature for private messaging, and there are no written comments. It’s a conversation that just happens to take place online.

What Is the Clubhouse Experience Like?

As Michael Stelzner describes in Social Media Examiner, when you enter a room you hear the conversation going on. Participants can “raise their hand” (using the raised hand emoji) to participate, and might subsequently be invited “on stage” to join the discussion. Those who contribute to the conversation may even become moderators, which allows them to call others up on stage.

Some users find Clubhouse to be like a podcast: something they can listen to while doing other things. Some liken it to a panel discussion. The rooms cover a wide range of topics, something like AOL chat rooms from back in the day. Depending on your interests, you will find rooms devoted to, say, investment strategies for Bitcoin or daily habits for high performers, film talk, writing sessions, mindfulness tips, and much more.

Like any interactive experience, certain protocols are observed and expected. The understanding is that participants will mute themselves until they are called upon, or until they have something germane to add to the dialog. Moderators control the conversation, and rooms can run for hours.

Who’s in the Club?

The app brings a wide range of individuals—and interests—to the table. Celebs like Kevin Hart, Oprah, and Drake are already on board, drawn by the relative privacy the app affords. The app is currently invite-only; each participant is granted limited invites to extend, though the more active a participant is on the platform, the more invites they are able to share. Stelzner recommends downloading the app and setting up your account, then . . . waiting patiently. As he notes, “Someone who knows you might be notified in-app automatically and grant you access.”

Why Clubhouse Matters

Stelzner has asked other Clubhouse members to highlight reasons the app keeps drawing them back (he notes that “[n]early everyone I interviewed was a creator, marketer, or business owner”). Among the responses:

  • It’s viral. When someone you follow goes onstage, the app sends you a notification. You can click on the notification and immediately join the room as a passive listener.
  • You don’t have to be ready for your glam shot. There’s no camera; it’s just your avatar and your voice. So you can join the conversation with that shaggy Covid hair, or even while you are running errands.
  • It helps build business connections. Think the conversations that start at business conferences; this is the same thing, but online.
  • It’s a place to test ideas. Got an idea for a podcast? Clubhouse is a forum to throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks.

What We Recommend

Clubhouse, currently in beta, is only available to iPhone users; the invite-only protocol also limits availability. That said, according to wfmynews2.com, “Clubhouse claims it will eventually open up for everyone, but is attempting to ensure it takes the proper steps in doing so. They also want to make sure they can incorporate features that will be able to handle large chat rooms.”

In the meantime, the app’s very existence is a reminder of the myriad ways brands can plug into culture, understand the trends, and stay connected, even as the pandemic continues to minimize in-person contact. Clubhouse demonstrates yet another way to engage—and the importance of staying current and thinking outside the box—not just during Covid, but beyond.

What can be learned here? We suggest that you:

  • Stay abreast of the opportunities apps offer to connect with a new, diverse audience.
  • Don’t forget the power of audio in digital.
  • Understand the power of crowdsourcing new ideas or feedback on your brand.
  • Get involved. Download the app and request membership individually. Then start exploring the app in your role as your company’s brand ambassador. Network with experts in other industries. Never underestimate the value of learning from diverse startups, CEOs, tech giants—whether on an app like Clubhouse, or in other venues.

Contact True Interactive

To succeed with online advertising, contact True Interactive. Read about some of our client work here.

The Holiday Shopping Season Delivers Early Lessons for Retailers

The Holiday Shopping Season Delivers Early Lessons for Retailers

Retail

The holiday shopping season is in full swing now. Granted, it’s a looking a lot different than it did in years past, with the pandemic influencing consumers’ moods and their shopping habits. But already, some important lessons are emerging that may affect retailing all year-round:

  • Online retailing is bigger than ever. During Thanksgiving Weekend, shoppers broke records for online purchases, with Cyber Monday 2020 becoming the biggest online shopping event ever in the United States. In addition, Black Friday broke a record for most online sales. Although e-commerce was already booming in 2020, it was not certain that Black Friday and Cyber Monday would be this big. Retailers such as Walmart, had been spreading out Black Friday sales online going back to early November, which raised the question of whether those sales might cannibalize the “real” Black Friday occurring November 27 this year. There was no need for worry.
  • Thanksgiving Day is turning into a huge shopping event. According to Adobe Analytics, Thanksgiving Day spending online rose by nearly 22 percent year over year to $5.1 billion, hitting a new record. Businesses that advertised Thanksgiving Day deals online probably benefitted from the fact that many big retailers closed on Thanksgiving Day, reversing a growing practice of launching Black Friday deals in stores on a day when families normally would be gathering to eat turkey and watch football. But Thanksgiving Day 2020 was different. People visited less with families and friends given the safety risks of in-person gatherings. Apparently, they had more time on their hands to go online. And they shopped.
  • Brick-and-mortar stores still matter. Even amid the pandemic, 124 million Americans shopped in stores over Thanksgiving weekend, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). But offline stores got less foot traffic – down 52 percent from 2019. Stores offering curbside pickup saw traffic increase by 52 percent, according to Adobe. The lesson for brands is to ensure that your digital advertising and organic content plays up the availability of options such as curbside pickup, as well as clear instructions for how to use curbside.
  • Mobile keeps growing. Shopping on smartphones rose 25 percent to $3.6 billion, making up 40 percent of total online spending on Black Friday. But people are using mobile in different ways now – searching and purchasing online but also booking curbside pick-up services offline. All told, cross-channel shoppers – those who visited websites and brick-and-mortar stores — spent an average $366.79 over the holiday weekend, which exceeded by 25 percent the spend generated by people who shopped in a single channel, according to the NRF. Stores that integrate a complete cross-channel mobile experience are in the driver’s seat.

What Businesses Should Do

Retailers need to be nimble. They need to plan ahead for the holiday season as they’ve done in the past, but they also need to be ready to adapt to changing consumer behavior. For example, it’s clear now that Thanksgiving has arrived, but only retailers that paid attention to shopping trends and adapted their online advertising strategies benefitted from that shift. In addition, consumers have shown a remarkable penchant for suddenly wanting to buy products ranging from chess sets to puzzles in 2020, as they manage the realities of social distancing. But how many retailers adapted? Fortunately, tools such as Google Insights help advertisers monitor changes in consumer behavior and adjust their advertising strategies accordingly.

Contact True Interactive

To succeed with online advertising, contact True Interactive. Read about some of our client work here.

Photo by Roberto Cortese on Unsplash

Consumer Spend on Mobile Hits Record Levels in Q1 2020

Consumer Spend on Mobile Hits Record Levels in Q1 2020

Mobile

On April 1, I blogged about some trends in mobile behavior based on a 2020 App Annie State of Mobile report. As if on cue, App Annie then revised its report to note the incredible surge in mobile usage during the first quarter of 2020 as people have practiced social distancing on a widespread scale. These numbers should convince businesses to invest in mobile advertising now more than ever:

  • Q1 2020 was the largest-ever quarter in terms of consumer spend on apps: $23.4 billion.
  • The number of new app downloads in Q1 totaled 31 billion, a 15 percent increase over the fourth quarter of 2019. As Tech Crunch reported, “That’s notable, given that the fourth quarter usually sees a big boost in app installs from holiday sales of new phones, and Q1 managed to top that.”
  • The United States and China were the largest contributors to consumer spend on the Apple iOS operating system.
  • Users of the Google Android operating system spent the most on games social, and entertainment apps, in large part due to Disney+ and Twitch.
  • The Top Five apps worldwide for Q1 based on downloads and consumer spend: TikTok, WhatsApp Messenger, Facebook, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger.

All of that time people devote to managing their lives with mobile devices creates opportunities for businesses to engage with customers. The key is to create a sustained presence and to be mindful of using tone appropriate for the times we’re living in right now.

At True Interactive, we have deep experience helping businesses thrive on mobile. For instance, for Snapfish, we launched a digital media campaign that combined major platforms such as the Google Display Network with mobile-centric display networks that serve up ads to consumers on mobile devices. Revenue from mobile app installs grew 343 percent year over year during the holiday season. Mobile app installs grew 23 percent during the same period. Overall, Snapfish saw a 756-percent return on ad spend. Meanwhile, Snapfish saw a 56-percent decrease in costs per install.

For more insight into our work with Snapfish, read this case study. For more insight into responding to the surge in mobile activity, check out my recently published blog post, “Why Mobile Will Power Your Marketing Future.”

Contact True Interactive

Mobile is where the action is. Are you getting in on it? Contact us.

Photo by Rob Hampson on Unsplash

Why Mobile Will Power Your Marketing Future

Why Mobile Will Power Your Marketing Future

Mobile

For businesses, engaging with mobile should not be a matter of if, but when. And according to App Annie’s The State of Mobile 2020 report, sooner is better than later. The report underscores how important it is for businesses to connect with their customers on mobile. Here are some stats that resonate:

Mobile Is a Way of Life

  • According to the report, consumers downloaded a record 204 billion apps in 2019. Annual downloads have grown 45 percent in the three years since 2016, and six percent year over year. As App Annie points out, this growth is especially impressive because it excludes re-installs and app updates.
  • Also of note: in 2019, people spent roughly three hours and 40 minutes a day on mobile, a 35 percent increase over 2017.

People Are Spending on Mobile Apps

  • Consumers are opening their pocketbooks to engage with mobile—and not just with games. App store consumer spending hit $120 billion in 2019, up 2.1 times from 2016. Although games comprise 72 percent of all app store spend, subscriptions in non-gaming apps leapt from 18 percent share in 2016 to a solid 28 percent in 2019.

Mobile Is Where People Go to Be Entertained

  • Time spent on sports apps such as ESPN grew by 30 percent from 2017 to 2019.
  • Mobile gaming is, hands down, the world’s most popular form of gaming. In 2019, mobile games enjoyed 25 percent more spend than all other gaming combined.
  • New entrants like Disney+ are heating up consumer interest—and competition—in the streaming industry. For right now, consumers seem happy to double-dip: close to 25 percent of Netflix’s iPhone users also used Disney+ in Q4 2019, for example. That’s the highest overlap of users among top video streaming apps in the United States.

YouTube and TikTok Are Exploding

  • YouTube enjoyed a staggering 980 percent growth in worldwide active users from December 2017 to December 2019. And as we recently blogged, the platform is an advertising giant, to boot.
  • App Annie calls it the “TikTok Tidal Wave”: time spent on TikTok, which as a social networking app and entertainment source poses a double threat, grew 210 percent year over year in 2019. TikTok is also drawing interest from brands; as we have noted, the platform is an ideal place to demonstrate a lighter side through funny videos or challenges.

Social Media on Mobile Is as Strong As Ever

  • Social isn’t going anywhere. App Annie notes that 50 percent of time on mobile is spent on social and comms apps like Snapchat. As a result, apps like Snapchat are thriving: as we recently blogged, Snapchat continues to grow, even in a competitive landscape.
  • Meanwhile, use of Nextdoor has grown 65 percent from December 2017 to December 2019 in the United States, demonstrating an interest in social networking at a local level.

Gen Z Is Rocking Mobile

  • Gen Z are digital natives, and as such lead all other demographics in terms of mobile use. According to the App Annie report, Gen Z has 60 percent more sessions per user in top apps than older demographics. And 98 percent of Gen Z own a smartphone.

Implications for Businesses

  • If you are advertising on mobile already, don’t put your advertising on pause during the coronavirus pandemic. Phone carriers such as AT&T are reporting a surge in mobile usage as more people work from home.
  • That said, you may find yourself adapting your mobile campaign at this time: say, by discussing community building activities that will keep your brand front of mind when the crisis subsides. Sensitivity to the current crisis is key. And patience. Elijah Whaley, the CMO influencer marketing agency Parklu, notes of brands who proceed carefully and wisely through the coronavirus era, “When [consumers] start spending again they are going to spend with you.”
  • Capitalize on YouTube and TikTok. These apps are only going to increase in popularity as more Gen Zers come of age. TikTok is just sorting out its ad products, but, as we’ve noted, YouTube already offers strong advertising options.

Contact True Interactive

Mobile is where the action is. Are you getting in on it? Contact us.

Photo by Daan Geurts on Unsplash

3 Ways That Retailers Can Win During the 2019 Holiday Shopping Season

3 Ways That Retailers Can Win During the 2019 Holiday Shopping Season

Retail

The holidays are always in season for retailers. Even though holiday shopping traditionally does not begin until the week of Black Friday, advertisers need to constantly anticipate and respond to shifts in consumer behavior and any factors that affect how people shop during the holidays. Here are three ways retailers can succeed in the 2019 holiday shopping season, based on our experience:

1 Be Mobile

According to Adobe, the 2018 holiday season marked the first time that smart phones accounted for more than half of all visits to websites during the holidays. With 51 percent of shoppers using their phones to address shopping needs, retailers better have a strong mobile advertising presence.

To be mobile, brands need to first and foremost capitalize on tools that maximize the value of the mobile format. For example, Google Gallery Ads, available in beta, consist of swipeable images that display on multiple pages on a user’s mobile phones. Shoppers can swipe through the images or click one to expand the gallery into a vertical view that users can then swipe down. At the end of the gallery, a call to action to visit the advertiser’s site appears. A company such as ours that has access to Google can fast track you into using tools such as this one.

In addition, Google has launched tools that make it easier for brands to make your inventory sparkle, such as Google Showcase Shopping Ads. These types of tools are especially useful for making inventory more attractive (and literally shoppable) as people are using their mobile phones to browse for holiday ideas before the season officially kicks off.

Being mobile also means providing a great follow-through experience on your site, whether that site is accessed from a laptop, a PC—or from a smart phone. As I blogged last year, a number of businesses encountered turbulence because their online experience didn’t deliver well after shoppers clicked through on ads to buy things.

Be ready – across the entire mobile journey. (Note: check out this case study about our work with Snapfish for more insight into how we’ve helped a business succeed with mobile advertising.)

2 Prepare for Black Friday Week

Black Friday not just a day anymore. It’s a shopping state of mind.

Black Friday remains the single most important shopping event of the year. But winning retailers understand that Black Friday has become, in fact, an entire week. As the popularity of Cyber Monday shows—four hours on that day were, in 2018, the busiest period of the entire year. People are in Black Friday shopping mode hunting for deals during Thanksgiving Week and immediately afterwards. That shopping rush includes Thanksgiving Day, which incidentally shows buyers relying more on smart phones than they do on Cyber Monday or even Black Friday itself.

To maximize the opportunities afforded by an expanded Black Friday phenomenon, online retailers need to be ready with advertising strategies—paid search and display, for example—that attract customers to buy during the entire week.

3 Compete with Shipping

One of the major stories of the 2018 holiday season was the rise of shipping as a competitive tool: Amazon, Target, and Walmart all tried to outdo each other with attractive shipping offers. Amazon, for example, famously extended free shipping, with no minimum purchase required, for a limited time starting November 5.

Shipping will be a big story for the 2019 season, too. With Thanksgiving taking place later in November, the official holiday season will be shorter. And a shorter season usually means a sense of urgency, as consumers try to make up for lost time by having products shipped to them faster. While smaller retailers may have a harder time matching the efforts made by behemoths like Amazon, it’s important to stay competitive by having your act together and your shipping strategy sorted. Achieving more efficient product fulfillment and shipping may involve hiring more labor. It might also demand tweaks to your online advertising.

Contact True Interactive

Bottom line: brands want to stay abreast of the trends in order to maximize the holiday shopping experience they provide for customers. If you need help, contact us.

Image source: https://pixabay.com/photos/woman-shopping-lifestyle-beautiful-3040029/