Snapchat's parent company Snap Inc. has seeded a flurry of announcements this week, in what may be a pre-emptive push ahead of their first earnings announcement. And there's a heap of interesting angles for social media marketers - here's what's been reported and/or announced, and what it could mean for your business.
1. Self-Serve Snap Ads
Following the lead of other social platforms, Snapchat's releasing a new self-serve ad management platform, which will enable businesses of all sizes to utilize their various ad options.
Up until now, the only way you've been able to buy Snapchat ads has been through Snap's sales team - the new option will enable anyone to do themselves, free of additional charges, with ad creation and targeting options similar to other networks (as shown in the image above).
Expanding access to their ad platform makes perfect sense, though it does come with some additional considerations. As noted by TechCrunch, making engaging Snap ads isn't as simple as running an image and link campaign on Facebook - Snapchat's video ads require a bit more creative nous and technical understanding. But still, giving people a way to try them out can only encourage more to do so - it may not be as easy, but plenty of businesses are very keen to tap into Snapchat's primarily Millennial audience, which, according to latest reports, is still highly engaged with the app, despite the rising challenge from Facebook.
Snapchat's new business tools will include the following elements:
- Ads Manager - Through Snapchat Ads Manager, you'll have the ability to purchase and manage your Snapchat ads, while there'll also be performance data to help you track your campaigns. Available Snapchat ad types will include video, app install, long-form video and webview. You'll also have capacity to utilize Snapchat audiences through the dashboard, including lookalikes, Audience Match and Snap Lifestyle categories, which they introduced late last year.
- Mobile Dashboard - In addition to the main Ads Manager platform, there'll also be a mobile option, enabling businesses to keep track of their campaigns on the go. The functionality will be available within the main Snapchat app, through which you'll be able to edit and pause campaigns and receive notifications about key metrics.
- Business Manager - You'll also have the capacity to manage roles and permissions for team members, giving you more control over your Snapchat ads process.
As with other self-serve platforms, there's no listed minimum spend, but you will get an assessment of projected reach based on monetary commitment. Worth noting too, Sponsored Lenses and Sponsored Geofilters will not be available through the self-serve platform (Lenses still need to go through Snap direct while Geofilters has its own dashboard).
2. Snap TV
In addition to increased access to their ads platform, Snapchat's working to bring more TV-like content to the platform to boost engagement and provide publishers with another way to reach cord-cutting, younger viewers.
As noted by The Wall Street Journal:
"Over the past several months, Snap has signed original show deals with NBCUniversal, Turner, A+E Networks, Discovery, BBC, ABC, ESPN, Vice Media, Vertical Networks, the NFL and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. It is also in discussions with CBS and Fox, according to people familiar with the matter. On Thursday, Snap plans to unveil another show deal with Food Network-owner Scripps Networks Interactive , which will produce offshoots of existing TV hits like "House Hunters" and "Chopped."
Snap's focus is on creating shorter, complimentary versions of TV shows in order to hook in viewers - which provides benefit to both the producers (as it's not looking to replace them entirely) and Snapchat, which can become the home to these extended network experiences. If it works, Snapchat could use this new, premium TV content to show ads against, boosting their revenue potential - which could also provide new opportunities for marketers looking to get more exposure through the app.
In line with this, Snapchat's also reportedly considering making TV content available beyond the usual platform time-restraints to accommodate for binge-viewing and catch-up.
Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are all also looking to get in on the digital TV shift, though Snapchat's approach is a little different, which could be important, particularly if Snapchat's able to maintain its hold on its audience.
3. Spectacles Version 2.0
And the last news swirling around Snap Inc. is the release of an augmented reality patent which includes, among other things, images of what might be Spectacles version 2.0 - with augmented reality overlay built into the glasses themselves.
As noted by Mashable, the two sensors at the front of the glasses could detect what's around you, and layer AR elements over your field of vision - ala Google Glass, but better looking, and no doubt more popular.
The patent also includes an image of what this advanced AR could look like, with an image of a dinosaur overlaid on a real world scene.
Of course, it's not 100% clear how close this might be to reality (the patent itself was filed in 2015), but the fact that Snapchat is factoring this in would suggest they have some perspective on their path to making it happen.
We've written previously about the possibility of Snapchat putting increased focus on Spectacles - with Facebook looking to bully them out of the social networking market, Spectacles may provide Snap Inc. with an opportunity to expand outside of Facebook's path. And while Facebook has hinted at future AR hardware developments (and are working on VR through Oculus), as yet, Snap is the only company that's taken active steps in this direction.
Given the popularity of the first version of Spectacles, Snap Inc. likely has enough evidence to confirm the use-case for their AR glasses, and they have available cash to spend on development from their recent IPO. Snap Inc. also recently opened a new development lab in China, near where Spectacles are built, and the evolution of tools like World Lenses all seem to fit into the wider application of AR through a Spectacles overlay.
If Snap Inc. really is a camera company, as they say - and that's not just a hedge to avoid comparisons to Facebook - then the development of Spectacles makes sense, and could be an exciting shift.
So long as Facebook doesn't get wind of their plans and try to beat them to it (and worth noting, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently said that it may take five to seven years before AR glasses become a reality).
And if they do go down this path, the development of AR enabled wearables could have big implications for digital advertising - Snapchat has already registered plans for image-recognition triggered ads which respond to real world inputs, like detecting a coffee cup and offering you discounts based on that.
Further expansion of this could see users given prompts to activate offers and ads within their Spectacles view itself. It seems a way off, but it's actually closer to reality than you might think.
Either way you look at it, things are about to get very interesting at Snap Inc.
Next week, the newly listed company will hold its first ever earnings call, in which they'll report their daily active user figures, revenue standing, future plans, etc. The user figures, in particular, will be of significant interest as their most recent growth figures showed a clear slowdown since the introduction of Instagram Stories (at the far right of this graph).
If that is to be the case, Snap Inc. will need to find ways to re-direct attention away from this metric to avoid it becoming the core storyline, as it has with Twitter.
Maybe these latest announcements from Snap Inc. are a pre-emptive measure, a means to control the narrative a little. Whether that's the case or not, there are some important considerations here. Worth noting in your social strategic planning.