How Snapchat is Bringing Ads to the Real World

Posted on Oct 04, 2016

Would you snap a photo of a real, physical advertisement?

One major platform is betting that people will. Snapchat is currently developing a new “snapable ads” product, where users can employ the app’s camera to scan an image or barcode on a poster or website to receive a special deal on a product. The offering is beginning to roll out, as mysterious ‘Snap to Unlock’ advertisements have been popping up in New York, Washington, D.C., and parts of Los Angeles, as of September. There are some intriguing benefits and pitfalls associated with the rollout of this project that marketers and adversiers should note.

For starters, the ad product seems to be related to a recent patent application from Snapchat - the application shows how users can scan Snapcodes, its custom QR code system, in the real world to unveil exclusive content within the app. Historically, QR codes have not proven to be very useful in advertising campaigns and don’t usually offer a high return on conversion. But in an effort to appeal to a wide range of users, the app is continuing to test the waters and leverage new ways to engage with consumers.

Two common pitfalls associated with QR codes that could potentially be a threat to the success of the Snapcode include how QR codes can offer too little value and can often link to ineffective content. People need a good reason to scan the QR code - especially as it is often seen as time consuming. Snapchat users will have to fiddle with their phones, open the Snapchat app, wait for the app to load, position the phone accurately to snap a picture of the Snapcode. Then what? The return better be worth the user’s time and brands/advertisers Once a user snaps a picture of the Snapcode, the complete conversion relies on the effectiveness of the landing page’s call to action. But what if the landing page doesn’t load or appears to be low quality and lacks a clear call to action? Brands and advertisers need to recognize the importance of engaging a consumer before and after scanning the Snapcode in order to fulfill the conversion. need to recognize what return is worthy of this type of engagement.

Once a user snaps a picture of the Snapcode, the complete conversion relies on the effectiveness of the landing page’s call to action. But what if the landing page doesn’t load or appears to be low quality and lacks a clear call to action? Brands and advertisers need to recognize the importance of engaging a consumer before and after scanning the Snapcode in order to fulfill the conversion.

However, given Snapchat’s massive user base, it could be that Snapcodes become an extremely popular - and effective - way for brands and advertisers to reach consumers. Snapcodes could potentially be a direct way to reach younger demographics as the platform’s users are mostly millennials (those born between 1981 and 2000), totaling 40.9 million and representing 70 percent of Snapchat’s monthly active users in 2016.

Brands and advertisers should keep an eye on the development of a potential Snapcode feature in order to really gauge its effectiveness. Perhaps Snapchat will be the first major social media platform to revolutionize the effectiveness of the QR code, and bring them to the mainstream. Only time will tell how such a feature will be received by consumers.  

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