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.

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!


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.