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Can 2016 be the year of Snapchat?

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Can 2016 be the year of Snapchat?

With Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Twitter reigning supreme, it might seem incongruous to think that brands should look at other social platforms for their campaigns. However, Snapchat is slowly getting its advertising game in place to challenge the big four.

Last year, Snapchat announced that Two Pennies ad product that let advertisers place a short ad on Snapchat’s Discover platform. It has also been working towards improving its targeting capability, if reports in tech media are to be believed. Snapchat also gives access to a highly sought after demographic, namely, millenials. It has video capabilities and by last reckoning about 100 million users.

At first glance, there seems to be a lot about Snapchat that advertisers might like but it has still to reach the critical mass needed to push for advertiser attention, especially in countries like India, which are still coming to terms with the digital evolution. The lack of proper targeting, like the kind provided by Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, is also a challenge that the company faces, as well as the absence of data about how well ads are actually performing.

A 2014 report by GlobalWebIndex, said that Snapchat was the fastest growing app in the world, though its share in India was just 9  per cent.

Snapchat fastest growing app, holds 9% market share in India

“The audience size is still an issue with Snapchat. Also, there is not a lot of published or available data about the platform. For a brand, it makes sense to go where there is a lot of traffic. There is potential but it needs to provide more data that will enable brands to make informed decisions,” opined Chetan Asher, Co-founder and CEO of Tonic Media.

Snapchat does not have an Indian office as of now though prospective clients can buy ads through the online dashboard. However, it might not be too long before Snapchat turns its attention to India. As Mihir Karkare, VP of Mirum India says, “Increasingly, what is happening is that the days when India was the ‘n’th market that a company entered are gone. Today, India is usually the second market that a company comes to. So, I won’t be surprised if Snapchat set up a presence in India quickly.”

So what are the advantages that brands can expect from Snapchat? Gautamm Mehra, VP and Head (Social Media) of iProspect India, opines that the fact that there are lesser brands on Snapchat could be a boon as it would mean less clutter on the platform. However, he also points out that Snapchat is still far away from providing personalized targeting and rich data set like Facebook or Instagram. “It is a good place to experiment. Globally, what they have been pushing is video and this is something that even brands want,” he said.

Karkare has an interesting take on the targeting angle. According to him, rather than getting random impressions on a no name portal (as is the case with other platforms), on Snapchat a user has to actually touch the screen to see an ad, which makes it a great counterpoint to traditional brand advertising. “Early movers looking for exciting new things will have high chances of reaping outside benefits. Apart from its interface and functionality, the big differentiator will be the demographic it provides,” he added.

However, considering that the content on Snapchat and the way it is viewed is completely different from, say, Facebook or Twitter, brands will have to come out with a different digital strategy for the platform and this, feels Asher, could be a stumbling block.

“Snapchat is about micro content production. I don’t know if brands are ready to move away from high traffic platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Also, at times, Snapchat goes under the radar since most brand managers might not be using it themselves,” he said.

Can 2016 be the year of Snapchat? Digital agency heads we spoke with agreed that there was a lot of potential for the medium and it could be a good fit for brands looking to target audience in the age group of 13-22. If the targeting and data problems are resolved by Snapchat in the near future, it could be a worthwhile platform for relevant campaigns. 

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