Advertising in the eyes of many millennials has a very negative connotation. Push marketing has made ads an unwanted distraction as they interfere with the user experience on social media. For this reason, instead of going down the Facebook's sponsored post or Twitter's promoted tweet route, Snapchat is looking to leverage its geo-filters feature to integrate an organic and seamless way for brands to engage with their audience.
Introduction to Geo-Filters
Since it's launch in 2012, Snapchat has added a range of new features to its app, such as Live Stories and Discover. One of the most recent, and well-loved, additions is geo-filters. Snapchat's location based geo-filters are in-app stickers that users can choose and add to their snaps to emphasize their location and/or events they are attending.
Why Millennials Love Geo-Filters
Tagging has become a growing social media trend. From friend tagging to location tagging, millennials want to differentiate their content from others. Geo-filters complement this need for differentiation in a fun and easy to use way. Geo-filters are the new alternative to traditional text-based tagging as they add rich context to a snap. After seeing a geo-filtered snap, users can quickly identify their friend's location and current activity.
Another allure to geo-filters is their exclusivity. Users can only use the in-app stickers once they have activated their location service on their smartphone. Once location services are enabled, Snapchat can then identify whether the user's location is in the geo-filter location boundaries, and if so, allow the user to apply the location's exclusive geo-filters. This makes sharing content even more rewarding for millennials where geo-filters are serving as an anti-FOMO (fear of missing out) badges.
Advertising through sponsored geo-filters is successful because of their fluid integration to the app, making it an engaging option for users - less intrusive and more organic. Millennials are known to trust the opinions and experience of friends more than businesses. In most cases, millennial-to-millennial word-of-mouth is more powerful than any well-targeted advertisement.
One of the many reasons that users begin to dislike advertisements is because they feel that their favorite social media platform has changed and now is only there to make a profit from them. A way to successfully avoid this pitfall is for brands to integrate their advertisements directly into the user-experience, and Snapchat's geo-filters do just that. In fact, some could argue that sponsored filters even help to make Snapchat's geo-filters even more popular. One of the reasons users love Snapchat's geo-filters is that there's usually more than one to choose from, making their snap feel even more customizable.
Use Case: McDonalds, Universal Studios, Nike
This summer, McDonalds became the first advertiser to create sponsored Snapchat's geo-filters. McDonald's geo-filters blend nicely with the other geo-filters that users can choose from - when a user is nearby a McDonald's, they can now decorate their Snaps with falling golden fries and a cheeseburger.
With McDonald's choosing to advertise through the geo-filters instead of through the Discover channels, it successfully engages millennials because adding geo-filters to snaps makes the advertisement customizable and personal for each user. In addition, each time a snap with the geo-filter is sent, the user on the receiving end will also see it, thus increasing McDonald's awareness.
Universal Studios is also leveraging Snapchat's geo-filters as an advertising platform. Their sponsored filters include a Minion's themed 4th of July filter and a Ted 2 themed Father's Day filter. Although most of Snapchat's geo-filters have received positive excitement, the Ted 2 geo-filter did receive some backlash with some users upset that Universal Studios used Father's Day as an excuse to promote their new movie. A nice feature with Snapchat though is that no user is forced to use the geo-filter, thus those who disliked the Ted 2 filter could opt not to use it. This preserves their ad-free Snapchat experience.
Universal Studio Minions Geo-Filter
Nike also released a sponsored Snapchat geo-filter to celebrate the World Cup. This is a great marketing approach because it's a very timely filter, centering around FOMO. Using the timeliness of the World Cup, paired with a well-loved company, Nike successfully used Snapchat to engage millennials. Their colorful geo-filters allowed users to add a touch of personality to their Snaps, making the user's content more personalized and organic.
Snapchat's Advertising Pain Point: Unknown Costs
Similar to all its previous advertising models, Snapchat has declined to reveal how much brands must pay in order to have a sponsored geo-filter. Since McDonald's geo-filter is only recent, it's too early to tell if it's had a significant effect on increasing sales and revenue for the fast food giant. However, from the amount of millennial engagement with McDonald's geo-filters, it's easy to say that McDonald has heavily increased its awareness among millennial users on Snapchat.
As these geo-filters become more integral to the Snapchat experience, this relationship between brands and in-app advertising will grow even stronger among Snapchat users.
McDonald's, Nike, and Universal Studios are among a few brands that have successfully leveraged Snapchat to engage with millennials. Unlike its competitors, Snapchat has found the Crown Jewel to millennial advertising: in-app engagement. Instead of focusing on forcing its users to view sponsored content, Snapchat has made geo-filters an exclusive feature where users want to use these filters on their own, whether it is sponsored or not. This new form of marketing is powerful because users are now interacting with promoted content in ways that are organic and seamless in their everyday experience.
Do you think that Snapchat's geo-filters are a successful and appropriate way to reach out to the millennial generation? What are your thoughts on companies partnering with popular social media platforms to advertise? What other businesses do you see successfully marketing their brand on Snapchat?
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