While there are a lot of questions surrounding Snapchat at the moment - and murmurs that get louder every time Facebook releases yet another clone of the app's functionality - Snap Inc. is working to improve the viability of its flagship platform, making it a more appealing prospect for advertisers, while also looking to boost the functionality of key features.
On the first note, Snap has this week announced the acquisition of location analytics and ad measurement company Placed for close to $200 million.
Similar to Facebook's Conversion Lift measurement, Placed helps measure the impact of online advertising on in-store traffic and sales. As explained their methodology, Placed measures data from those who saw your ads against those who didn't, then provides a 'lift' metric which highlights the rate at which those who did see your ads visited your store.
Snap Inc. actually added an option along the same lines back in April, called 'Snap to Store', which enables brands to track the number of people who've used Snapchat within their business' physical location, then cross-check whether those users have seen any of their ads on the platform.
The acquisition of Placed will enhance this functionality, enabling Snap to provide advertisers with an additional level of assurance that their on-platform efforts are having a real-world, bottom line impact.
This element will be crucial for Snap - thus far, the platform has sought to shift the narrative away from overall user growth and towards active engagement. Comparative user growth is what's hurt Twitter, with the network inevitably being compared to Facebook, and Snap Inc. knows that they too have no chance of competing against The Big Blue Giant on this front. But if they can improve their revenue-per-user stat, that might still impress the market - though that's a big 'if'. In their first earnings report, Snapchat's average revenue per user was actually down for the period.
In addition to this, Snapchat's also added a new Bitmoji feature which auto-generates friends filters based on your Bitmoji character and that of the person you're interacting with.
As explained by Mashable:
"The new frames appear when you "double tap to reply" to a Snap from a friend. The filters themselves change throughout the day based on factors like when you became friends or the time of day. So you may see "good morning" early in the day and "good night" in the evening. You could also see a special birthday filter on a friend's birthday."
While Bitmoji characters don't appeal to everyone, they're obviously working for Snapchat - the platform has added several new ways to emphasize Bitmoji in recent months, including the automatic integration of Bitmoji avatars into Snapcodes and the addition of a new profile screen prompt to create your own Bitmoji.
Snap Inc. hasn't provided a specific breakdown of Bitmoji use on the platform as yet (Bitmoji were first introduced on Snapchat last July), but in their S-1 filing in February, they included Bitmoji in their listing of 'Creative Tools', which they say are used to "enhance over 60% of all Snaps" sent every day.
And finally, Snap Inc. is also making Spectacles available to more users, with the first Spectacles vending machines now available in Europe.
June 2, 2017
The first European sighting of a Spectacles Bot was in London, and they've since appeared in various locations - as always, you can track Spectacles Bot sites using the online listing, which is updated every 24 hours (they're currently in Germany, France, the UK and the US).
You can also buy them online and avoid the queues - Spectacles now ship to both US and European locations.
Snap Inc. still has a way to go to prove that it can withstand the rising pressure from Facebook and become a more significant player in the market, but there remains a lot to like about its potential - and there's still a long way to go before Facebook could be in a position to snuff it out entirely.
And while going against Zuck and Co is never a good strategy, Evan Spiegel seems to be one of the few that no one's willing to bet against just yet.
It'll be interesting to see what the next major move is in the ongoing Snap vs Facebook battle.