Why Snapchat Is Attracting More Advertisers and Users

Why Snapchat Is Attracting More Advertisers and Users

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Snapchat’s turnaround in 2020 was no fluke. The company recently reported a monster quarter, reaching its highest year-over-year revenue and daily active user (DAU) growth rate in four years. It’s time for businesses to seriously consider Snapchat as part of their game plan for reaching Gen Z and Millennial audiences. Many are already, which is why Snapchat’s ad revenue keeps rising. Let’s take a closer look.

Snapchat Reports Stunning Quarterly Growth

Snapchat’s growth for the second quarter of 2021 was nothing less than stunning. Its revenues increased to $982 million, a 116 percent increase compared to the prior year. That growth was accompanied by an increase in DAUs, an important metric because more people using Snapchat means a growing audience for advertisers. DAUs were 293 million for Q2 2021, an increase of 55 million, or 23 percent year over year. DAUs increased sequentially and year over year on both iOS (Apple) and Android (Google) platforms.

Evan Spiegel, CEO of Snapchat’s owner, Snap, said in a statement, “Our second quarter results reflect the broad-based strength of our business, as we grew both revenue and daily active users at the highest rates we have achieved in the past four years. We are pleased by the progress our team is making with the development of our augmented reality platform, and we are energized by the many opportunities to grow our community and business around the world.”

Why Is Snapchat Is Growing

Spiegel noted that Snapchat is succeeding for three reasons: a growth in augmented reality (AR) features, new content, and new advertising features. Examples of all three:

New AR Features
  • Connected Lenses, enabling Snapchatters in different locations to interact with each other through AR.
  • Several try-on capabilities with Lens Studio 4.0, including multi-person 3D body mesh, advanced cloth simulation, and a new visual effects editor for more realistic Lenses.

These are significant because AR has always been an important competitive differentiator for Snapchat, as we noted on our blog recently. Medium recently commented, “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.”

Source: Snap investor presentation

Indeed, businesses have capitalized on Snapchat’s embrace of AR and are doing so as they gear up for the 2021 holiday shopping season. In a recent webinar, Snapchat shared example of Ugg boots, which is part of Deckers Brands. A spokesperson from Deckers Brands said that Deckers used AR in Snapchat for their holiday campaigns in 2020 to allow customers to use Ugg filters to “try on” their boots. This year, Deckers will probably do something similar with apparel, since Ugg is expanding its products into all kinds of apparel. (Deckers is no stranger to Snapchat. In this 2020 investor call, Snapchat describes how Ugg has successfully applied Snapchat’s dynamic ads feature.)

New Content
  • Eight new and renewed Snap Originals, including Swae Meets World, a documentary featuring American musician Swae Lee as he prepares to launch a solo album.
  • A record 177 new international Discover Channels, including 36 in the UK and 24 in India, one of which is a partnership with Sony Pictures Network to launch five Shows.

These developments arrived on top of Spotlight, which is Snapchat’s feature for monetizing individual creator content, launched in November 2020. New content features geared toward businesses and individual creators alike are important because they provide advertising sponsorship opportunities for brands and the growing creator economy.

Source: Snap investor presentation

New Advertising Features
  • Public Profiles for businesses, which allows any business to create a profile on Snapchat showcasing their Lenses, Highlights, Stories, and shoppable products.
  • An integration with Salesforce, allowing brands to leverage their first-party data to reach Snapchatters with relevant ads.
  • The Creator Marketplace (within self-serve Ads Manager), connecting advertisers with certified Lens Creators and facilitating the AR development process.

The Salesforce integration is especially noteworthy. With Google phasing out support for third-party cookies on the world’s most popular browser, Chrome, businesses are under more pressure to figure out how to maximize the value of their first-party data. Snapchat is sensing and responding to this need.

The news media reacted positively to Snapchat’s strong quarter. The “Yes, but can they do it again?” tone that characterized coverage of Snapchat’s positive results in 2020 subsided. For example, Meghan Bobrowsky of The Wall Street Journal portrayed Snapchat as a feisty and innovative company successfully fighting back at is copycat rivals.

She wrote, “The company, best known for disappearing photos and messages on its Snapchat app that is popular with teens and young adults, has impressed investors with its growth during the pandemic, outpacing much larger rivals. It has introduced new features to appeal to businesses beyond traditional social-media advertising, including a push into augmented reality.”

What Advertisers Should Do

We believe advertisers should take a closer look at Snapchat. Start with the creation of a Snapchat Public Profile (similar to a Facebook page) to understand how to interact with Snapchat’s audience. And understand how the Snapchat audience interacts with content. According to Snapchat, its user base, which skews toward Gen Z and younger Millennial generations, has these characteristics in common:

  • 150 percent more likely than non-Snapchatters to prefer to communicate with pictures over words.
  • Snapchatters are three times more likely than non-Snapchatters to say they are using AR more than they did last year to try on products.
  • The Snapchat Generation is 1.4 times more likely than non-Snapchatters to gravitate to immersive video and mobile games, including AR experiences.

If your brand already rocks Instagram with visual content, chances are you are well positioned to succeed on Snapchat!

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Is Snapchat a good partner for your brand’s reach? Contact us. We can advise. Learn more about our expertise with social media platforms here.

For More Insight

How Snapchat Keeps Innovating with Augmented Reality,” Bella Schneider.

Snapchat Spotlight: Advertiser Q&A,” Max Petrungaro.

Why Snapchat Keeps Growing,” Bella Schneider.

How Snapchat Keeps Innovating with Augmented Reality

How Snapchat Keeps Innovating with Augmented Reality

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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.

Snapchat Spotlight: Advertiser Q&A

Snapchat Spotlight: Advertiser Q&A

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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.

Why Snapchat Keeps Growing

Why Snapchat Keeps Growing

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Snapchat has experienced its ups and downs in the past few years, but one undeniable truth prevails: the app continues to flourish. Snapchat is, in fact, exceeding growth expectations: eMarketer, for one, expects Snapchat to gain more than 63 millions users by the end of 2023, as contrasted to an original estimate of 52 million. In addition, according to The Street, Snapchat is on course to be profitable in the very near future, after years of losses: “Analysts expect Snapchat to soon reach its ‘break-even’ point in profits, most likely by 2022. A group of 34 technology analysts estimates the company will earn a profit of $48 million in 2022.”

Why the Growth?

Why is Snapchat continuing to grow despite increased competition from apps such as Instagram and TikTok? Some possible reasons include:

1 Continued Innovation

Snapchat’s owner, Snap, was just named Fast Company’s most innovative company in 2020, which speaks volumes about why Snapchat has rebounded from the brink. TechCrunch also reports that new products are bound to boost engagement with Snapchat and, crucially, ad views. Snapchat’s recent innovations include Cameos, which allow users to edit their own face onto an actor in an animated GIF. And Bitmoji TV features comical cartoons that star the consumer’s customizable Bitmoji avatar. For users who have always dreamed about being a secret agent, say, or a zombie president, Bitmoji TV brings those fantasies to life via episodes featuring a main story as well as shorter, single-gag clips. User avatars appear in the regularly scheduled adventures, which range from sit-coms to soap operas and infomercials. “It’s scripted but its personalized,” Bitmoji co-founder and CEO Ba Blackstock has said. “First and foremost, I hope that everyone who watches this has kind of a mind-blowing experience that they’ve never had before.”

2 Excellent Timing

Snapchat came along at the right time, as the Millennial and Gen Z population began to swell—and come of age. Launched in 2011, the app appeals to the Millennial and Gen Z populations with its promise of content that is both ephemeral and authentic. As co-founder Evan Spiegel noted in the company’s first blog post, “We’re building a photo app that doesn’t conform to unrealistic notions of beauty or perfection but rather creates a space to be funny, honest or whatever you might feel like at the moment you take and share a Snap.” And the platform has captured a sizable demographic. As Statista notes, Millennials and Gen Z, together, now comprise about half the U.S. population.

3 International Expansion

Snapchat continues to expand effectively into international markets, one profound example being the uptake of Snapchat in India. As TechCrunch observes, “Snapchat’s user growth has been on [a] tear thanks to international penetration, especially in India, after it re-engineered its Android app for developing markets.”

The Challenges

It’s not all smooth sailing, of course. As 24/7 Wall St. points out, Snapchat’s features can be—and in fact have been—easily copied by competitors like Facebook. When Snapchat introduced Stories, which allows users to share snaps in a narrative style, it was making a successful bid to keep users engaged and coming back for more. Facebook’s response? Its own version of Stories on both Facebook and Instagram; and the release of Instagram Threads, a camera and messaging app for “close friends.”  As Wired notes, Facebook chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made it clear to employees that doing what’s best for users might include replication: “Zuckerberg’s message became an informal slogan at Facebook: ‘Don’t be too proud to copy.’”

Furthermore, Snapchat lacks the reserves of cash that Facebook enjoys. 24/7 Wall St. opines, “While it’s still too soon to assess the impact of Instagram Threads on Snapchat, the salient point is that Instagram’s owner (Facebook) has a virtually unlimited war chest and a seemingly visceral need to stomp on Snapchat, if not to stamp it out entirely.”

Staying Viable

The key for Snapchat? Staying nimble and creative in the competitive and ever-evolving social landscape. In short, the app will continue to thrive if it keeps on generating features that both users and advertisers will love – especially advertisers, whose revenue Snapchat needs. One example of courting advertisers with more features: Snapchat’s Swipe Up to Call ads, which give users the opportunity to swipe up on their screen and immediately and directly call or text the advertiser.

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Snapchat: The End Might Be Near

Snapchat: The End Might Be Near

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Unless Snapchat figures out a new game plan to create proprietary features and experiences, 2019 will be the end of the popular photo-sharing app. The stock of its parent company, Snap, is scaring away investors. Its user base has plateaued. Each time Snapchat introduces a new feature, Facebook and Instagram copy it. For instance, Instagram users can share permanent photos on their profiles as well as more temporary content on stories that disappear within 24 hours, a feature that was once unique to Snapchat. Instagram is also becoming more engaging for users with the option to share public comments, likes, as well as create polls in stories, all features that Snapchat lacks. With the launch of its latest feature IGTV, Instagram is on the rise for 2019.

Where does the rise of Instagram leave Snapchat? In a very difficult place. That said, Snapchat still has cards to play, such as monetizing its location data for advertisers and building up its content platform as a broadcast media for businesses such as the National Football League, which told Advertising Age that it doubled viewership of its highlights video to 2 million during the most recent season. Another ray of hope for Snapchat: Facebook keeps hurting its own brand, to the point where it is vulnerable to losing advertisers.

What Snapchat needs is a proprietary feature that makes it so lovable to advertisers that they remain loyal no matter what Instagram or Facebook do. To that end, its R&D center is looking for a solution, perhaps involving augmented reality, where Snapchat has succeeded.

But Snapchat needs to work fast before investors’ lack of faith in Snap and pressure from other platforms brings the fabled platform to an end.

Advertiser Q&A: Snapchat Context Cards

Advertiser Q&A: Snapchat Context Cards

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Snap Inc. is finding allies in its ongoing war with Facebook. The latest battlefield is location-based marketing.

Last week, Snap announced the launch of Snapchat Context Cards, a new feature that injects more information into the content that Snapchatters share on the app. The launch has raised questions from businesses, ranging from “What do Context Cards mean to advertisers?” to “What the heck are Context Cards?” Here are some answers to popular questions:

What are Context Cards?

Context Cards consist of optional “more” buttons that Snapchat has embedded into the Snaps that Snapchat users post on their accounts. When you click on the “more” button, the Snap reveals location-based information about a user’s Snap.

For example, let’s say Snapchatter Marcia posts a photo of herself enjoying a breakfast burrito at her favorite café. Her photo, of course, is the Snap, or content that she posts on Snapchat. A Context Card, or “more” button, which appears on Marcia’s Snap, reveals a treasure trove of information about the café, such as its address, map location, and user reviews. In addition, Marcia’s Snapchat friends who receive the Snap can click on ride-sharing services embedded in the Context Card if they want to visit her at the café.

This video gives you more insight into how Context Cards work:

Context Cards have generated a lot of curiosity because Snaps are the language of Snapchat. Context Cards enrich that language with information about the places where Snapchatters share information with each other – sort of like turning Snaps into Swarm check-ins loaded with information about where Snapchatters are and what they’re doing.

The term “context card” is not unique to Snapchat. Facebook uses them, too. As Facebook explained in 2016: “A context card is an added (and optional) tile that pops up after someone clicks on a lead ad but before they get to the form, giving businesses a place to offer more details on the information people are signing up for. So, if a business is using lead ads to find new email subscribers, they may use a context card to explain what type of content they offer in their emails. Context cards help businesses ensure that the leads they receive are high-quality.”

But Snapchat has branded the term within a specific context of location-based information.

Does every Snap now contain a Context Card?

No. According to TechCrunch, “[Context Cards won’t appear in every Snap, however, lest you were worried that Snapchat was turning every single post on its platform into a marketing tool. Instead, it’ll include those that have been tagged with the company’s venue-specific Geofilters, or with any Snap that’s been submitted to the public ‘Our Story’ feed and that appears in Snap Map or Search.”

Where does Snapchat get all location information needed to create Context Cards?

Snapchat is not mining all the data on its own. To retrieve and publish location-based information, Snapchat is partnering with companies that collect this kind of information already. As reported in Adweek: “The messaging application teamed up with launch partners TripAdvisorFoursquareMichelinGoopUberLyftOpenTableResy and BookTable to supply information including reviews (from critics and customers), tips, reservations, booking rides, directions, hours of operation, phone numbers, websites and other Snaps from around the area.”

Foursquare provided more insight into how Foursquare partners with Snapchat on Context Cards here.

What does Snapchat get out of Context Cards?

Context Cards could make Snapchat more attractive to businesses, which it must do in order to compete as a revenue-generating advertising platform. Just how Snapchat will benefit remains to be seen, but here are a few ways the company may become more valuable to advertisers:

  • User engagement: If Context Cards cause Snapchat users to spend more time on the app by digging deeper into each other’s Snaps and interacting with the location-based data, Snapchat will be able to report stronger user engagement numbers to advertisers. For instance, conceivably a user could tap into a Context Card, check out customer reviews of a restaurant pictured in a Snap, and use Uber to visit the restaurant all within Snapchat. More time spent on Snapchat means more opportunities for advertisers to interact with users.
  • Data: Snapchat can collect more data about user activity, such as what they are searching for and where they are spending their time, which would make Snapchat a source of more targeted advertising. And targeted ads mean more relevant interactions with users, which is Facebook’s stated competitive advantage.
  • Revenue generation: the Context Cards could create ways for Snapchat to collect more revenue from transactions and advertising. As discussed in Forbes, “The feature could also open up a new revenue stream for Snap, as it could charge its partners a commission for each booking or transaction carried out via its platform. If Snap is able to scale up this opportunity, it could be quite lucrative given the company’s relatively young and affluent user base, which is located primarily in developed markets.”

But Snapchat will have to tread carefully. People won’t use Context Cards that create unwanted advertising popping up on their screens.

What do Context Cards mean to advertisers?

  • If you operate brick-and-mortar storefronts, make sure your location-based data and content are accurately reported to Snapchat’s partners such as Foursquare. A Context Card isn’t going to be very valuable if it sends users to the wrong address of that café where Snapchatter Marcia is enjoying her breakfast burrito. Now, more than ever, you need to manage your data and content closely.
  • Keep your eyes on Snapchat especially if you advertise to a millennial audience. Watch how Context Cards evolve and be ready to capitalize on advertising opportunities as they arise.
  • If you advertise on Facebook, keep an eye on how Facebook responds. Facebook has not capitalized on location-based marketing beyond giving brands real estate to create their own pages. Look for Facebook to answer Snapchat with more effective ways for businesses to embed location-based information into the world’s largest social media platform.

Bottom line: Context Cards give Snapchat a way to combat Facebook in location-based marketing. Facebook offers something akin to Context Cards when users check into places on Facebook and reveal information about the location of the check-in. But they are not very and interesting and useful. Context Cards embed a lot more information. Snapchat has an advantage – for now.

To make your marketing more effective across the digital world, contact True Interactive. We’re here to help.