SnapChat’s $3billion Question

There’s been a lot of focus on SnapChat lately, and what they have up their sleeve if they’re turning down $3,000,000,000. I think they made a huge mistake turning down that amount of money, but that’s not to say I think SnapChat is worthless either. Here is what I see for SnapChat as a marketing tool.

First, they need to implement a few simple features to make it useful for brands. They are: 

  1. Location-based Snaps
  2. Pre-Snap “subtext” (I’ll explain further below)
  3. Longer Snaps

I spoke in a previous post about SnapChat’s power of urgency, and how users give a FULL, UNDIVIDED 10 seconds of attention to a Snap when it comes through. What do you think is worth more: 10 seconds of undivided attention, or a 30 second commercial someone may not even be watching? I’m betting on the former.

Anyway, here’s how that urgency comes into play. Allow me to paint a picture in your mind. You walk into Finishline, your phone vibrates, you see that you have a Snap from Finishline. The “Pre-Snap Subtext” tells you to open the Snap at the checkout for 15% off. You pick out your shoes, head to the register, and open the Snap (which lasts roughly a minute). The cashier scans the barcode in your snap, and you receive your discount.

Sure, that’s a perfect scenario, but knowing that Snap is in your pocket will make you think a lot harder about making a purchase. They know you’re interested because you’re already in the store. That’s about as close to the end of the conversion funnel as you can get. That Snap could pull you through.  

As for monetizing this, I’m not sure. SnapChat could charge brands $1 per Snap sent, or redeemed. $.10 for a Snap, $.10 to add location, $.10 to add Subtext, and another $.10 to add extra length. (These numbers are all rough numbers, but a sweet spot could be found.)

With 400 million Snaps sent a day, that’s quite a bit of income.

SoLoMo: Social, Local, Mobile

Everyone has a smartphone these days. Almost, anyway. Almost everyone with a smartphone is also on a social network. Almost all of those people are using their device on the go. This has provided a huge opportunity for marketers to create touchpoints for consumers on their most personal device, just feet from a physical location.

Foursquare is so confident in the power of their mobile-local platform, that they won’t collect from advertisers unless a conversion happens. Circle identifies themselves as a “local network” and not “social.” Apple’s iAds can optimize in-app advertisements for a certain geolocation. In a previous post, I wrote about the power of urgency SnapChat could leverage if they create location based snaps.

With search residing at the end of the funnel for digital purchases, SoLoMo resides at the end of the funnel for physical purchases. As these platforms expand, you’ll see offers popping up on your phone wherever you go. It could be for a pair of shoes at a shop around the corner. It could be for a gas station 10 miles ahead when you start to get low on fuel. It could be a restaurant having a lunch special when you Tweet that it’s almost time for food.

It’s almost invasive how powerful your smartphone with a GPS is. But with the rate technology and targeting is improving, your smartphone will give you exactly what you want, with some kind of incentive, before you even know that you want it.

Search, SEO, SEM, PPC, OMG

Search has become a whole new animal with SEO, SEM, retargeting, and social networking. If you’re doing everything perfectly (and maybe not even then), you’ll be at the top of the search page when someone Bings your brand, or a relevant keyword. You won’t just be at the top. Your paid ads will be first, followed by your website. Then they’ll see your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Maybe they’ll see your Google+ page, and a Wikipedia page about you.

If you do everything perfectly, your competitor won’t even be on the first page. Unfortunately, no one is perfect, and no one has an unlimited budget to pay for all the best keywords, optimize their site perfectly, and spend enough time on social to make every platform shine through. So, how can you possibly win the search game?

Bad news is you can’t really WIN. The good news is that your competitors have the same challenges, especially if you’re doing things correctly. Take the time to optimize your website, deliver great relevant content, and add in the correct Schemas and you’re well on your way. Make sure you’re present on all of the correct social networks. If you’re not sure which those are, look for your competitors. If they’re on it, you should be, too. If they aren’t, it could be an opportunity for you. Bid on some keywords on Bing and Google. Maybe you need to buy your own brand keywords, maybe you don’t, but you should have something relevant.

Improving your search rankings takes time and effort, and usually some money. Search is very closely related to the end of the conversion funnel, though. Make sure the rest of your marketing efforts aren’t wasted. When someone is interested enough to search for you, you want to be able to close the deal.

Programmatic Buying, RTB, and Display

I have a love-hate relationship with display ads. The ‘hate’ comes merely from the fact that they exist, and they are all over the websites I frequent, asking me to buy this, or sign up for that. The ‘love’ comes from RTB or Programmatic Buying.

Buying ads from a premium publisher are a fantastic way to get your ads in front of your target audience, on a relevant site, and only spend your entire budget. Even these premium publishers can’t guarantee a good click through rate. RTB solves these problems by spending a bit of money to find your target audience, and then spending a bit more to find the best customers, and then knocking it out of the park spending just a bit more.

When you buy ads through an RTB network, they’ll start off displaying your ads on a wide range of relevant sites at a very low CPM. Shortly after, the optimization kicks in, finds where the most clicks are coming from, and spends more money in those areas. This process continues and cycles until your target audience is found, the best publishers established, and the optimal price point is set. When reviewing the campaign and analyzing the statistics of it, you’ll see a few things.

The first is that your weekly impressions will drop over time. That’s bad, right? Not necessarily. While those impressions are dropping, you’ll see CPM going up, too. Wait, that’s even worse. Sure, but then you notice your clicks and CTR. They’ve skyrocketed. This is because the RTB network has found where your clicks are coming from, and spending more money to make sure you get the highest quality impressions. So, while your total impressions are going down, the quality of them is maximized, and you’ll end up getting more clicks and more conversions for less money overall.

I love display ads.

Content Rich Websites

The old days of pumping your website full of metatags and embedding ridiculous code to improve your search rank are over. Google, Yahoo, and Bing are all too smart with their fancy algorithms to let you get away with that. If you want to get found in search without paying a ton of money, you have to cram your website with great content.

This content can be anything your users find valuable: pictures, videos, links to other awesome articles, your own thoughts. The problem with pictures and videos and your own thoughts is that these algorithms can’t see them, and they’re not always sure about the context. This is important, because while content is king, context is God.

Lucky for us, the geniuses over at schema.org have created these incredibly confusing, but even more incredibly useful Schemas. If you’re serious about SEO, and you should be, you’ll need to utilize them as much as possible.

“Great! How do I use them?” you might say to me. Well, they’re sets of HTML code you can use to give context to something extremely abstract. For example, if you’re writing about a movie directed by someone named John Smith, there’s no way the spiders crawling your site will know that he’s directing a movie. Therefore, no one searching for John Smith, movie director, will find you.

This is where the Schemas come into play. By adding the movie schema code to that bit of your article, and adding the director code around John Smith’s name, the spider crawling your page will know EXACTLY what you’re talking about. On the surface, readers will see John Smith, Director, and search engines will see the same on the back end.

You can have the best content in the world, all of the stuff that readers love, but it’s not always the same stuff search engines love. Using Schemas ensure that we’re all on the same page.

Storytelling in Digital

Before digital media we had very few channels through which to tell a brand’s story. TV, Radio, Print, and Out Of Home were about the only forms of media marketers and advertisers could utilize to tell their story any way they wanted. With the emergence of the internet, channels such as websites, social networks, and online newspapers have really created a mess.

With traditional media, it was easy to keep a story consistent. Television was the star, and Radio, Print, and OOH were the supporting actors and actresses. Each channel had a specific role, and it was easy to discern the way your message was delivered through each. TV was moving images, Radio was audible, Print and OOH were still images. Along with delivering the message was the challenge of delivering it to the right people. Targeting the right audience through these channels was quite a bit easier, because there were less of them.

With digital media, every form of traditional media has a counterpart. TV has YouTube. Radio has Pandora. Print has a website. OOH has banner ads. TV also has Vimeo, and YouKu, and Instagram, and Vine. Radio also has iTunes Radio, and iHeartRadio, and Rdio, and podcasts. Print has Flipboard, RSS feeds, and not just a website, but thousands (not including blogs). OOH has website banner ads, and Facebook Ads, and sponsored tweets, and in-app ads.

Media is becoming incredibly fragmented. 

For brands trying to tell a story, this is the new challenge. Every single one of these channels has a different tone, and needs to be utilized in a specific way. Your audience might be heavily invested in one of more these, and not invested in one at all. Once you’ve figured out where they are, you have to figure out how to tell the story. You can’t change the message, you have to change the messenger. You have to tell the same story in Twitter’s sarcastic tone, in Instagram’s beautiful and elegant tone, and in YouTube’s well-produced, professional tone.

Good luck!

 

BREAKING: SnapChat is trying to destroy you.

SnapChat released an update today, and it’s probably going to confuse you for just long enough for you to potentially embarrass yourself. Lucky for you, I’m here to save the day.

SnapChat Stories
What are these? Basically, you can take a Snap as you normally would, and add it to a timeline. Then, all of your friends see your name/face under “recently updated” in their friend list, where they can watch this timeline IN ITS ENTIRETY for 24 hours.

But wait. After they’ve viewed your story in their recent updates, it doesn’t go away. All they have to do is scroll down to your name, and tap and hold. They can view your embarrassing story as many times as they want for those 24 hours.

Still doesn’t make sense? Allow me to walk you through my discovery.

I received a Snap from a friend about needing coffee (a pretty typical Snap for me to receive). Then I replied with “me too. SNAPCHAT UPDATE” and sent it to her as well as “my story” which I had just noticed. At that point, it just seemed like a Snap I could view myself. No. I added another Snap to my story: “SNAPCHAT STORIES???”. Then I started to see other people’s stories appear, and I realized I could view them over and over again by tapping on their face in my friend list. 2+2=4 and I realized everyone could see my story as well. Over and over again. for 24 hours.

So, don’t post anything to your story you don’t want all of your friends to see. They’ll have plenty of opportunities to Screenshot you.

EDIT: You can delete pieces of your SnapChat story. False alarm.

The Digital Transition

There is no question that traditional media, especially print, is transitioning to digital. With the convenience of devices for consumers such as smart phones and tablets, combined with the cost-savings benefits for publishers, a transition to digital was not only logical, it was inevitable. With most of the content on the internet being free, and most newspapers charging for a copy, there was some question of how to make the transition. I think the New York Times was fairly successful.

The Paywall system was tried a couple of times early on in the Internet’s toddler and adolescent years, but I don’t think the timing was right. The internet was not quite mainstream enough, and most users were accessing from a desktop computer on a dial-up connection. Charging a premium to access content that wasn’t more convenient than getting a newspaper wasn’t a great business model. Even in 2005, the TimeSelect system wasn’t perfect, because readers could get general news anywhere, and find content from their favorite authors on their public blogs and social media. The “leaky wall” improved the whole system, and married subscriptions to social buzz.

Current subscribers got to access the content they always did, with the convenience of digital consumption if they preferred. These consumers were also leveraged as sort of “social ambassadors” and allowed to share content via social networks. Their friends and followers were allowed to access restricted content as long as it was through a social platform. Readers using search to find NYT articles were also allowed to access content in a limited capacity at 5 articles per day. Normal visitors to the NYT website were allowed a maximum of 20 articles per month.

While this system wasn’t and isn’t perfect, it can evolve as the market evolves. It encourages regular users to share content to friends, family and followers through social. It encourages social users to subscribe. It has an almost innate targeting system that finds the readers most likely to subscribe, and brings them in through the content they want most.

What’s next for SnapChat?

SnapChat was valued by investors at over $800million. What makes it worth that? Over 350 million snaps are sent each day, up from 200 million in June. People are flocking to this social sharing tool that allows its users to share photos, videos, and text for up to 10 seconds before it disappears into cyberspace forever. While those numbers are impressive, value comes from somewhere else.

Marketers and Advertisers are always looking for the newest unique way to get through to their customers, and I think SnapChat is going to be a huge channel very soon. Capturing someone’s attention has always been a challenge, and getting a message through clearly only adds to the complication.  SnapChat has, in a way, solved both of those problems by adding an immediacy to the platform.

Users will stop what they’re doing and direct their full attention to their phones every time a snap comes through, because they know it will be gone after a few moments. Users will even attempt to “screenshot” a snap, just so they can hold on to the moment for a little longer. Marketers would pay good money to be guaranteed 10 seconds of their customers attention to send them any message they want. That is where the value of SnapChat lives.

Take that attention grabbing power SnapChat already has, add a few simple features, and you’ve got a remarkably powerful tool to reach your customers. If users could “follow” their favorite brands, knowing they’d receive some benefits in return, brands would have a highly targeted group at their beck and call. If there was some location-based targeting, brands could send an offer to their fans the moment they walk into their store.

Imagine the power of delivering an offer straight to your customer’s hand, at the point of sale, that they are forced to act on immediately. Do you think that’s worth $800 million?

Why I Hate Google Glass

If you thought people with Bluetooth headsets were annoying, I can’t imagine how you’re going to feel about Google Glass’ers. Walking around, talking to their fancy high-tech monocle. Mr. Peanut would roll over in his grave. (Is Mr. Peanut even dead?)

Screen Shot 2013-02-22 at 2.50.36 PM

Look at the terror in that kid’s eyes. His dad has clearly become a Skynet deathbot, and he’s connected to everything we know and love.

What It Does 

Sure, you can check out the OFFICIAL “What It Does” page, but the pictures don’t really explain a whole lot. Basically, Google Glass is a headband with a piece of glass that floats in front of your eye, and listens to your every command. Think “Siri meets sunglasses.”

While you’re stumbling around with this piece of glass obstructing your vision, you can talk to it. Start by saying “okay, glass,” and it will wait for a command like “search” “record video” or “start hangout.” This is fantastic, don’t get me wrong, especially if it works. After you’ve given a command, it does whatever you’d told it to do. It takes a picture of what you see (ish). It records a video from your point of view. It begins video chatting your friends, showing them what you see.

Why I Hate It

DragonballZ-Episode001ws_89

Okay, I don’t really hate IT. I hate the idea of it, and this has nothing to do with my undying love for Apple and its products. I actually have my reasons, and here they are:

  1. You’re wearing a headband with a piece of glass in front of your face! Not only do I hate wearing sunglasses for the same reason, I’d be talking to said piece of glass. It’s distracting, and it’s unsightly. You look like those Dragon Ball Z guys.
  2. Data. In order for it to do anything remotely cool, it needs a data connection. And if you’re going to be running around having Google Hangouts and uploading videos to the YouTube, you’re going to need a lot of it. The world isn’t entirely wireless enabled yet, and most networks aren’t open to the public. You’ll need to purchase a monthly data plan for the thing. Knowing how much it costs to have a data plan on an iPad that’s probably connected to WiFi most of the time, this could get pricey.
  3. The camera is going to suck. It’s not actually going to take a picture of whatever you see. It’ll be distorted. It’ll be distorted because the camera isn’t directly in front of your eye, and it won’t move with your eye movement either. Sure, you can see a preview of the picture, but you have to move and tilt your head to line it up correctly. Quick snapshot? Sure. Would I use it to take family photo? No.
  4. Streaming video. Anything that I would do that would be worth streaming to my friends is probably too dangerous to do while wearing the thing. Am I going to ski down a mountain at Mach 6 and half? No. Would I go bridge jumping into a river? Definitely not. Besides, I want people to see ME doing those things, not what I’m seeing. And if I’m going to record someone/thing else, I’d rather be able to move the camera with my hands, not my neck.

Okay, so maybe this is the direction the world is going. We’re becoming more and more connected. It might look silly now, but once everyone has one, you’ll look silly without it. I still think it’s a long way off before it’s mainstream, and I have no problem waiting until then. Feel free to disagree with me, I’m just saying I won’t be getting one anytime soon.

(Ah, who am I kidding? I’ll get one just to say I have it.)