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.
Glasses. Lenses. Apps. Games. Ads. These are all examples of products and experiences being shaped by augmented reality (AR). While not entirely new, AR will become an increasingly popular tool used to engage shoppers throughout 2018. Various apps and games are currently being introduced into the App Store and Google Play, and many more are in the process of being developed using Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore. Consequently, incorporating AR technology into new tools or games for phones, tablets, and laptops will become the new norm.
The last few years have brought a glimpse of what augmented reality can do. Popular apps such as the Pokémon GO game, Ikea Place, Fitness AR, and MeasureKit introduced the world of augmented and virtual reality to our actual reality. Unlike VR, which creates a false reality, AR enhances your surroundings and adds to your current reality.
One example of a brand already incorporating AR is Snapchat. Snapchat introduced AR advertising features through its lenses and is launching a new AR Lens Studio. Brands are able to use these lenses to advertise their products as well as their brand name on social media in a more interactive setting. What sets these lenses/filters apart is the more engaging and lively nature of the tool. Customers are generally more inclined to convert when they are given an actual experience. The lenses also make for a more memorable and fun way to target millennials.
Augmented reality will also enhance how shopping ads operate. Online shoppers sometimes miss out on the in-store experience when searching for a product or service through the web. The use of AR will help create this virtual experience for online shoppers, increasing engagement rates, building brand awareness, and potentially drive conversions. AR will enhance these ads to be more interactive and memorable because AR makes it possible for users to view much more than a flat image. Imagine being able to view a product in its actual setting, sampling clothing without having to drive to a store, or even taking a 360-degree tour of how furniture will look inside your own home before you decide to make a purchase. In fact, the Ikea Place AR app provides this functionality already. Place allows for users to sample furniture within the comfort of their own homes.
Another app similar to Ikea Place is from Houzz. Its app allows the users to virtually remodel or redecorate their homes before actually committing to these larger, more permanent changes. AR makes it possible to configure a potential purchase from the comfort of your own home, saving you time from having to make returns when a product doesn’t work well, or even previewing renovation changes before they take place. Experiences such as these represent the future of shopping ads.
What to Expect
Apple and Google have already created their own AR software kits and introduced them into their operating software — Apple’s ARKit in iOS11 and Android’s ARCore. Many resourceful apps have already been launched using this technology. In January 2018, Apple announced that many “customers are now enjoying close to 2,000 ARKit-enabled apps spanning every category on the App Store.” From these platforms, we can expect to see more apps include AR features. From games, fitness tracking and coaching apps, to shopping tools and travel apps that include interactive maps — the list of uses for augmented reality goes on and on.
The technology to improve these apps will still be developing well into 2018, but we can expect to see more and more businesses incorporate AR into their marketing strategies. ARe you ready for what 2018 and the world of augmented reality will bring?
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 TripAdvisor, Foursquare, Michelin, Goop, Uber, Lyft, OpenTable, Resy 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.
Television news programs are not dying. They’re just changing. Case in point: on July 26, ABC News announced that it will team with digital media company ATTN to develop and distribute news videos across social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The two companies will create video content such as guest interviews and features, customized for social viewing and sharing.
Commenting on the relationship, both ABC and ATTN both acknowledged the changing video consumption habits of audiences in the digital age.
Colby Smith, vice president, ABC News Digital, said, “Great journalism resonates with audiences across all platforms. Partnering with ATTN: allows us to experiment even further with new formats. We will take compelling stories and interviews and craft them in a way that feels organic to our digital platforms.”
Matthew Segal, ATTN’s cofounder and editor in chief, said, “To reach audiences today, you have to meet them where they live on social platforms. We’re thrilled to leverage the resources of ABC to provide social audiences with great storytelling that focuses on the issues important to them.”
ABC News is certainly not the only bastion of the old-world news networks to react to changing times. Also in July, NBC News launched “Stay Tuned,” a twice-daily Snapchat broadcast that joins other Snapchat-based NBC programs such as “The Voice.” Meanwhile, Twitter and Bloomberg offer 24/7 streaming news, and CNN is turning to YouTube for a forthcoming news broadcast. And earlier in 2017, the BBC and Snap announced a relationship to distribute a new Snapchat-based show that draws upon the BBC’s popular Planet Earth II documentary series.
These announcements occur at a time when TV-based content in general continues to expand into digital. We’ve already seen longstanding entertainment shows such as The Academy Awards and The Walking Dead embrace digital with second-screen experiences, and the NFL streams games on Twitter, just to cite a few examples. These programs have good motivation to increase their online video content. With TV viewers cutting their cable subscriptions and becoming more comfortable watching TV on desktops, laptops and mobile devices, TV broadcasters and their advertising partners are being forced to transition to an increasingly digital-only experience.
Social media is especially attractive for distributing content for three reasons:
Targeting shareable content. As we have noted on our blog, social sites such as YouTube make it possible for content creators to offer advertisers far more targeted audiences than TV can. Facebook alone offers increasingly sophisticated tools (including building lookalike audiences) for targeting different segments of its 2 billion audience based on who they are and what they do on social. And social platforms, are, of course, imminently shareable, which is why Twitter, despite its operational woes, remains a popular platform to distribute movie trailers and music videos – when they resonate, they get shared.
The power of livestreaming. Livestreaming in its various formats has become a powerful method for sharing real-time content, especially after Facebook expanded its livestreaming platform. Livestreaming has given everyday people a chance to act as citizen journalists by broadcasting you-are-there raw footage of breaking news and events. But networks can livestream as well by empowering journalists to act with the same real-time insight on the ground in a nimble fashion with nothing more than a mobile phone. Journalists can report news with the professional discernment and interviewing skills that they possess. And on social media, they can more easily amplify their coverage of real-time news. In fact, according to WGN-TV reporter Nancy Loo, livestreaming on Facebook is the best way to interact with your audience. (She provided this insight to us directly at the Social Media Day conference in Chicago June 30.)
Reaching the cool kids. In 2016, millennials overtook baby boomers as the largest U.S. population segment. And in 2017, Gen-Z – people born between 1997 and 2015 – overtook For Gen-Z and millennials, digital defines their world. Snapchat especially has famously become the go-to content consumption source for millennials – and where this large population segment goes, advertisers and their content partners are sure to follow.
But moving to social networks does not guarantee an audience. Audiences on social are not necessarily engaged with brands. They lack the intent that people searching for content on Google possess. They’re probably distracted by consuming and creating information on multiple screens and devices even while they are watching yours. Whether producing organic content or advertising, broadcasters need to engage audiences with small, bite-sized morsels that earn attention. To learn how to transition to the digital world with your advertising, contact True Interactive. We’d love to help.