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How Snapchat paves the way for future of location marketing

Matt Kapko | April 29, 2016
Snapchat has made location a standout feature of its social network. The company's geofilters and live stories curated for specific locations demonstrate the importance of place in social media, and its campaign to capitalize on location could also have lasting effects on digital marketing.

"Snapchat is the only social network that is customizing their platform's functionality to users' locations," Golub says. "Snapchat has taken [location] to a new, more organic level by changing the platform's functionality for users based on location and seamlessly integrating brands." 

Marketing is no longer just about getting the right message to the right person at the right time, according to Rebecca Lieb, an independent industry analyst and advisor. "Mobile's pervasiveness means 'right place' needs to be added to the mix," she says. "Marketing is enormously local and site specific." 

The established marketing technology ecosystem is ready to implement this extra layer of contextual data, but marketers need to change their processes to create relevant customer messages using location, according to Friedlander. "It involves a complete shift in distribution strategies, content creation and understanding data within the creative process," he says.

"Geo-filters provide a method for the Snapchat audience to co-create with a brand," says Forrester analyst Erna Alfred Liousas. "It is another way for audiences to express themselves and another input to marketer insights. These location-based capabilities allow marketers to test across different markets" and personalize messages to create deeper experiences between brand and consumer, she says.

"Location-based advertising on social media has not been a total failure," but adoption has been stunted due to a disconnect in the ways marketers use location data and social companies' business models, according to Golub. Snapchat wants to reinvigorate the market for location-based ads by leading brands away from the traditional, restrictive strategies of its peers in social.

"Location-based marketing is pervasive, but the traditional model of marketing can't support it," Friedlander says. "Snapchat may be redefining how we communicate moving forward, and they should force brands to rethink how they advertise, rather than looking for ways to sneak in traditional advertising that we all ignore." 

These points of differentiation also empower Snapchat to make an impact across the full spectrum of social media, including video and ephemeral, or "disappearing," messages, according to Friedlander. "The evolutions of communications or social media will be in the objects we interact with," he says. "It won't solely exist in some nebulous virtual space — it will be connected to locations, things and objects to give it more meaning."

 

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