Snapchat is bulking up its ad features again, and for fashion brands, the latest updates could lead to greater conversion on the platform.
Snapchat’s parent company, Snap Inc., announced Wednesday that it would be adding deep linking and autofill for lead generation forms to the photo and video sharing app, meaning that users can view an ad landing page without leaving Snapchat, and fill out personal information for mailing lists and offers with one tap.
The newest features are the latest evolution of the company’s ad offerings, which have consistently been built upon as Snap Inc. heads towards its IPO, which it began prepping for at the end of 2016. So far, it opened its API last April, began testing shoppable links shortly after and rolled out video ads in the continuous story feed. According to eMarketer, the company is on its way to hitting $1 billion in revenue by the end of of 2017, mostly driven by its live video offerings, and it could be going public as early as March. Snapchat declined to comment further on the updates.
“Creative strategies are often reduced to the numbers, and Snapchat’s approach to clear engagement figures has been a bugaboo,” said Alison Fox, a strategist at the creative agency Phenomenon. “This will provide some necessary insight.”
For fashion brands and retailers, the latest features could make Snapchat a stronger player in social strategies. So far, Instagram has been the primary platform for fashion, as it lends itself to dreamy, aspirational product shots that don’t disappear after 24 hours. With new capabilities at brands’ disposal, here’s how the new ad updates will affect fashion’s strategies on Snapchat.
Snapchat and Instagram Stories are duking it out.
Instagram, while a go-to place for brands to show off their lifestyle shots, has only recently updated its platform to make it easier for users to shop the products. New shop updates add e-commerce tags to products in photos, ads are now shoppable in the feed and Instagram Stories link out to product pages.
“Snapchat and Instagram stories are duking it out a little bit, but I don’t know if one will emerge victorious,” said Fox. “For fashion brands, it’s case by case. Instagram is a go-to place for fashion, but some brands really kill it on Snapchat.”
Fox added that since Snapchat is still somewhat experimental for brands, it gives them an opportunity to stick out from the crowd with a smart strategy. While Snapchat’s setback is that deep-linking is only available in ads, brands who get the format right could win over audiences in that space, said Fox. As brands can now deep-link to product pages by swiping up during an ad, tutorials and ongoing content narratives could lend themselves to the format. L2 reported that tutorials and recurring series, like Express’s Fitness Fridays, are prime examples of made-for-Snapchat fodder.
But with Snapchat’s offering limited to its ad products, brands with tight budgets will likely stick to organic content on the platform.
Snapchat “hacks” are still alternative options.
Brands like Revolve and Loft got creative on Snapchat in order to try to convert those viewing their stories into shoppers. By posting product SKUs in their Snapchat updates, viewers were able to screenshot the products, enter the string of letters and numbers into Google, and find the product pages.
The multistep process comes with some barrier to entry, since users have to go to the extra length to find their product, but it’s right now the only way to link to products, even if indirectly, in organic stories.
“On Snapchat, product-oriented code or descriptors feel at home, because you’re constantly layering stuff over the video or photos anyway,” said Thomas Rankin, CEO of Dash Hudson. “It’s taking advantage of existing user behavior — people will take screenshots of things they like, and then it’s saved to their phones.”
Rankin added that with links only in Snapchat’s ad offerings, users are likely to quickly tap by, as they’ve been conditioned to do when they see the ad, and miss the link entirely.
Snapchat offers one-tap loyalty programs.
What Snapchat offers that Instagram doesn’t: a one-tap way to get personal user information. Fox envisions marketers using this to tease Snapchat followers with offers and exclusive content, like a pre-sale.
Snapchat’s auto-fill update for lead generation forms make it easier for users to send their info, which is typically cumbersome on smartphones. Snapchat also gives an option for users to auto-fill any form they come across.
“Driving new lists and helping brands to acquire owned and operated audiences on platforms is huge,” Fox said. “Plus it’s simplistic, in-platform conversion.”
For retailers and brands on Snapchat, this will provide insight into who’s paying attention to them on the platform, as well as give them an opportunity to reward them for that attention with exclusive offers.
“Before now, it was hard for brands to say, ‘Let’s go all in with Snapchat,'” said Greg Hampar, a digital producer at Phenomenon. “Now they can track conversions.”