For brands in the digital era, the biggest challenge is working out how to capture our attention. Our senses are constantly bombarded by digital advertising, both subliminally and overtly. With our attention spans suitably diminished, brands are using digital innovation to find and maintain their place in our minds. Snapchat presents itself as the perfect host for this type of content marketing, proposing yet another new way to keep us engaged.
With the main principle behind the app being spontaneity, the idea is that we stay wherever we know the content will vanish. Since launching in June 2011, Snapchat now has over 100 million daily active users and is the fastest-growing social network among Gen Y. Over seven billion videos are being streamed through the app every day: a number soon to rival Facebook’s own video traffic.
Perhaps what is most interesting is that unlike Facebook and Google, Snapchat is not solely about stockpiling data in an attempt to lock users into the platform. Yes, people can share text, photos and videos with friends or groups, but the added anticipation and excitement results from the set time you are allowed to view content, before it can never be seen again. Focus – also called attentional capture – is a known factor influencing how deeply we process information; the more deeply we process, the more permanent the memory. As the vanishing videos of Snapchat become enmeshed in the fabric of social networks, we may find that branded content on this ephemeral platform nestles more comfortably in our memory.
Snapchat is pulling out all the stops to help brands share their stories and reach consumers. Snapchat Discover enables media companies and brands to compete for users’ attention by posting summaries of newly published content, refreshing it every 24 hours. This addition has allowed brands such as Cosmopolitan to reach 3 million people daily.
Having previously resisted selling banner ads, Snapchat has also struck a deal with Viacom in February 2016 to sell ads on its behalf, allowing the social network to focus on developing its core product. “Snapchat provides the best storytelling experience on mobile,” says chief strategy officer Imran Khan. “Through this partnership with Viacom, we can now offer television advertisers a way to tell their stories across television and mobile in a frictionless way.” It’s now set to be the first major app to sell both full-screen, vertically oriented ads and animated ads that can be overlaid on photos. This format is convenient for content producers and easier for viewers who are able to handle the phone in one hand.
It is no surprise then, that the platform’s sizeable community has attracted the attention of numerous brands, with Snapchat’s API now allowing for ads with options to buy a product or install an app. As the platform has grown, a number of brands have sought to creatively engage the sizeable Snapchat community. In 2015, Burberry released its Spring 2016 line on the social network, with exclusive access to behind-the-scenes photos and videos that disappeared after 24 hours. Urgency has become a new secret weapon in a digital world where the fear of missing out is all too common.