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Snapchat – An App Worth Retailers’ Attention

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With social media being an essential part of the retail branding and marketing repertoire, here’s one more app for stores to consider using: Snapchat, the social media hit of 2014.

Snapchat has morphed from a small business to a global brand in three years. Their 100 million+ active users are sending over 700 million photos and videos each day and the company was recently valued at $10 billion.

If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a pretty simple, but unique, concept. Users can send Snaps between each other as with other formats such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The key difference for its privacy-conscious users is there is no lasting indication of the message or photo, i.e. no database history. Once a user opens their Snapchat message, they have between 1 and 10 seconds to take it in before it disappears forever.

Realizing the potential for growth and revenue-building, Snapchat has recently set a caveat for big-brand advertising: $750,000 for a 10-second disappearing ad.

Acura, Taco Bell, McDonalds, Audi and the New Orleans Saints already use the app to debut new products and show behind-the-scenes footage. The company’s Stories feature, which lets users display a compilation of snaps taken over the last 24 hours, is useful for brands looking to tell a longer story. 

Aside from the big price tag, brands are leery of paying top dollar for ads that disappear. Since metrics and measurements are so important for companies, it’s hard for them to wrap their head around advertising that is so short-lived.

But Snapchat has one advantage that few other digital advertisers can claim: guaranteed engagement. Users must keep their fingers on a photo or video to view it, and that means ads thrown in the mix are subject to that same user scrutiny. Snapchat can tell advertisers with absolute certainty whether their ads were viewed, a useful data point in the metric-driven world of digital advertising.

Investors see potential to make money from the millions of teenagers and college students who represent the growing demographic who use Snapchat. Its unique demographics comprise a female majority between the ages of 13 and 25, according to press reports.

It’s a group that is coveted by advertisers and is increasingly difficult to reach through traditional media like television and magazines.

According to a survey published in 2014, two-fifths of 18-year-olds in the U.S. use Snapchat multiple times a day to communicate with family and friends (much higher than those who use voice calls daily).

Snapchat has been trying to address data and reporting and while it’s still early, their first study done in conjunction with MillwardBrown (one of the world's leading research agencies in advertising, media and brands) showed that users enjoyed the app’s first round of ads and that the ads helped boost brand awareness.

While Snapchat isn’t a stand-alone social media app for promotions, it’s importance as part of the overall mix shouldn’t be underestimated. Cross-promotion is essential and brands realize this—to promote its efforts on Snapchat, Lacoste has been leveraging other social networks, including Facebook and Twitter, to drive users to Snapchat.

The potential for Snapchat marketing is promising. It offers the potential for a personalized marketing campaign, and just because big brands have the big money to spend, that doesn’t mean smaller brands and retails can’t take advantage of the app in other ways. With Snapchat going on the offensive in calming users’ fears over annoying ads, it could provide a very effective marketing technique in the future.

If ads are out of the way and only viewed by those interested in them, it offers a user-friendly take on a marketing landscape that often forces its products, unwanted or otherwise, onto its audience.

TAGS: retail, retail trends, retailers, omni-channel, staffing,
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