Snapchat’s branded filters, which have been around for quite some time now, take advertisements to a whole new level. Many advertisers find branded filters to be an effective marketing medium because they make ads more fun and interactive by adding an augmented reality layer. But Snapchat isn’t stopping there; they keep finding methods to monetize the growing intersection of people and the digital world. Their latest ad concept, which encourages users to scan or “snap” an image to unlock content, could succeed where QR codes fail miserably.
“Snapchat is working on a new type of ad that would allow people to use their smartphone cameras to unlock special sponsored content in the app. The feature lets people scan an image or barcode on a poster or a website, which later gives them a special deal on a product, according to two people briefed on the company’s ad strategy.”
— Tom Dotan and Amir Efrati/The Information
Snapchat Codes on the Rise
Snapchat’s new marketing codes are just starting to pop up. These scannable ads invite people to scan them in exchange for promotional add-ons.
Snapchat expects that this innovation will boost engagement rates for ads and will resonate with marketers. Many brands are still skeptical of the platform’s ability to deliver meaningful media tactics beyond top funnel branding tactics.
One of Snapchat’s longtime advertisers, Universal Pictures, is among the first to test “Snap to Unlock” for its new movie “The Girl on the Train.” According Doug Neil, exec VP of digital marketing at NBC Universal, mysterious billboards will be showing up around subways in New York and Washington, D.C. and in some parts of Los Angeles.
Mr. Neil stated that QR codes failed miserably because they were at a disadvantage. Users and consumers had to scan them with dedicated applications, all of which needed to be installed for the sole purpose scanning the QR codes. Snapchat on the other hand, is already installed across millions of active users’ phones.
Snapchat users are assigned a snapcode of their own that friends can scan, making it easier it to follow each other.
“Snapchat is a little more ubiquitous and kids do love the discovery aspect of the Snapcode,” Mr. Neil stated. “So this could be a bigger play there.” This could change the whole advertising field.
Coca Cola Company has already used snap codes on Sprite soda cans as part of their marketing strategy. Users are instructed to scan the snap codes to unlock special discounts.
The Future of Snapcodes
According to Chris Tuff, director of business development at 22squared, it is expected that more movie studios, fashion brands and retailers will follow suit with the use of snapcodes.
“You could get a code on your receipt or it could be on a sign at the store,” Mr. Tuff stated. “And you could get an exclusive filter for 24 hours, so there’s exclusivity and the ability to share it. That makes sense for certain companies.”
“The Girl On the Train” snapcodes on billboards will on have the words: “What happened that night.”
The downside of these snapcodes is that a civilian may not make sense of the ad if he doesn’t know how Snapchat works. Once the user snaps the code, he’ll be taken to special geofilters.
Further development is expected to be done in the “Snap to Unlock” feature. Advertisers’ snapcodes could lead to deeper content offers like animated lenses, Snapchat’s popular feature that adds special visual effects to video selfies.
Noah Mallin, head of social at MECNorth America stated that while snapcodes may seem fun and playful, they could be helpful to marketers with measuring how well their Snapchat campaigns perform, particularly if they send out offers that lead people redeem them in stores.
“QR codes are one of those things everyone laughs about but Snapchat found an interesting way to reinvent them,” Mr. Mallin added. “They’re taking a real-world interaction and making it actionable on the platform.”