Snapchat moves into ecommerce: what you need to know

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Snapchat keeps surprising us with its continuous growth and it may become more interesting for brands now that it’s experimenting with ecommerce.

As users are now watching 10 billion videos a day on Snapchat, up from 8 billion in February, it is indicated that people love consuming content through the popular platform.

However, what makes Snapchat special is its focus on creative content creation, having the camera as its home screen, encouraging users to become broadcasters and not just consumers of content.

That’s what brands keep in mind when joining Snapchat, in order to appeal to their audience and create a solid presence.

How brands use Snapchat

It’s the power of ephemerality and the new creative format that makes brands try out Snapchat, in order to feel closer to their audience, or even to attract a new one.

Snapchat may be attractive to the younger demographics (with 60% of its user base being aged 13-24), but it has started winning engaged users from all ages and their dedication is admirable, numbering 54% of users checking the app daily.

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As Snapchat goes beyond the likes, brands are encouraged to become more creative with their content, measuring the success of their presence through engagement, screenshots, word-of-mouth, cross-channel shares, etc.

Snapchat can be used to:

  • Distribute meaningful and relevant content
  • Curate users’ stories
  • Engage with the audience
  • Reward users with exclusive content and offers
  • Serve as the brand that knows how to approach its audience through the right platforms

Advertising with 3Vs

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When it comes to advertising, Snapchat is focusing on 3Vs, or else video, vertical and views and it promotes on its site the full-screen experience of the ads, the effectiveness of the vertical format, but also the immersive video that appears in a curated context.

In fact, Snapchat is proud of its vertical format, as it appears to be more effective, measuring up to nine times bigger completion rate than horizontal videos.

Advertising is integrated into the platform, either through Live Stories, or through the Discover section, aiming to offer to users the best possible mix of content and advertising. Up to now, we haven’t seen more than two ads in a publisher’s daily story at the Discover section, which proves the fact that only 12% of users feel that there are too many ads, while 50% of them find the number “tolerable.”

Many ecommerce brands have already advertised a product on Snapchat, with luxury brands enjoying the success of the platform.

Burberry gets its own Discover channel for a day

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Image: Burberry

Burberry has become the first luxury brand to run a native ad on Snapchat by obtaining its own Discover channel for 24 hours, in order to promote Mr. Burberry, the new men’s fragrance collection.

The channel appeared on the first slot of the Discover section, which served as the best promotion for the product and it was the first time a channel was sponsored to promote a campaign, instead of simply creating a campaign as part of a channel.

Snapchat is now open for ecommerce

There has been a speculation regarding Snapchat’s monetisation lately and there was no surprise when hearing that it is officially experimenting with ecommerce.

It was back in 2014 when Snapchat introduced Snapcash in partnership with Square, as a fast and easy way for Snapchatters to exchange money with the Chat feature, by linking their debit card in the app. This was Snapchat’s first indication that it is thinking way beyond the present, hoping to turn into an ecommerce platform in the forthcoming years.

Only a few months before, Joanna Coles, the editor in chief of Cosmopolitan and a member of Snapchat’s board of directors, spoke at Re/code’s Code/Media conference, mentioning that Sweet was created as a channel from Hearst and Snapchat, hoping at some point to “morph into an e-commerce platform so you will be able to buy from it.” 

Hence, what everyone expected happened at the end of April, starting with Target and Lancôme.

Shopping through Snapchat

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Lancôme on Snapchat as seen here

On April 29, Cosmopolitan’s Discover channel presented us the first “shoppable” ads with Lancôme and Target featuring the first promoted products that can be purchased directly through the channel, simply by swiping down to go to the mobile shopping page.

Cosmopolitan’s audience saw once again the interactive advertising through the channel’s content, but this time the 10-second ad allowed them to swipe up for more information, or swipe down for an immediate purchase.

The idea is simple, but it may be the beginning of a new era for Snapchat, where shopping will take place through the app, slowly transforming it into a fresh ecommerce platform.

Snapchat for ecommerce: can it work?

As exciting as it sounds for every brand that already enjoys Snapchat’s popularity, there are many challenges to deal with until Snapchat can be considered an ecommerce platform.

Not there yet

The main challenge has to do with the fact that Snapchat has just started experimenting with ecommerce, which means that it has a long way to go until it can be considered an ecommerce platform.

One step at a time though may lead to a very interesting platform that may go way beyond the filters and the communication.

Measuring ad performance

Advertising on Snapchat is still at an early stage and despite the signs of growth, with more brands trusting it to promote their products, it still lacks the proper measurement of an ad’s performance.

Up to now, it is providing a measurement regarding the views of the ads, the completions and the audience reach and it seems to be among the most popular requests from marketers to get access to an improved measurement system for their ads.

This is changing soon, as Snapchat is teaming up with Nielsen to provide a third-party data measuring for the ad campaigns and it is hoping to use Nielsen’s credibility to solidify its presence in the advertising industry. A deal with Nielsen could attract more advertisers to the platform and it could be a great reason to convince them to spend more money on Snapchat’s platform.

Focusing on the user

It may be a challenge for advertisers to use Snapchat when it’s focusing on the users and leaves it up to them on whether they will watch the ad or not, but it is also an indication that interruption is not always beneficial towards the users’ impression of the advertising, which means that people have more chances to watch an ad when they have the power of choice.

Thus, this challenge may turn into an opportunity, provided that marketers are willing to shift their perspective and understand what users want from them.

Creating a shopping mindset

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As Snapchat users visit the platform for casual communication and entertainment, it may be difficult for brands to create the shopping mindset that will make them consider buying a product they discovered through the platform.

There is a need to create a purchasing habit that will convince users to consider an instant purchase, rather than taking screenshots of a product they might be interested in later on.

As 60% of the US users are aged 13-34, Snapchat is expected to present them the idea of ecommerce in an appealing way, with Snapcash being a good way to encourage purchases directly through the app.

By the time the audience is convinced to treat Snapchat as an ecommerce platform, then we are expecting to see a very interesting future for the app.

Is Snapchat fit for ecommerce then?

Snapchat may have just started experimenting with ecommerce and many brands are still cautious towards its advertising effectiveness.

Despite the successful vertical format and the engaging audience, there is still a feeling that advertising on Snapchat is like diving into the unknown, especially when it comes to direct purchases, numbering only specific examples yet.

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However, it could still be a great fit for ecommerce, especially when targeting the younger generation and its features could lead to great success, without necessarily losing its main focus on instant communication.

The app is growing at an impressive rate and its audience keeps increasing, which means that Snapchat turns into a trend that brands cannot ignore anymore.

A new form of creative content is formed and marketers are now asked to adjust to it, in order to benefit from its effectiveness. After all, they just have to go where their customers are and we know that the younger the target audience, the higher the possibilities of finding it using Snapchat.

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