Brands work with Snap to effectively engage with younger Indian audience: Dante DiCicco

DiCicco, Senior Manager- International Expansion, Snap Inc, spoke about the company's progress in India and how it has become a preferred platform for Indian brands

e4m by Javed Farooqui
Published: Jul 13, 2021 8:19 AM  | 8 min read
Dante DiCicco

After ending 2020 on a high with 60 million users in India, Snap Inc has been expanding its presence in the market through new initiatives. The company launched its short-video platform Spotlight in India along with Mexico and Brazil. Spotlight was used by over 125 million Snapchatters globally in March. Snap also launched its first local market Snap Original, ‘Phone Swap’, in India.

Alongside these initiatives, the company is building its advertising business in India. So far it has collaborated with the likes of Amazon Prime Video, Swiggy, Nykaa, Spotify, One Plus and more. It has also launched ‘Snap in Focus’ program to educate agencies and marketers about the potential of Snapchat as an advertising platform. Snap also has a strategic partnership with Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN) under which Snapchat is one of its priority platforms as far as ad spends allocations is concerned.
Dante DiCicco, Senior Manager, International Expansion at Snap Inc spoke to exchange4media about the Snap’s progress in India.

How was 2020 for Snap in India and can you share some key performance indicators?
At the Snap Partner Summit, this year (2021), we announced that we grew our DAU over 100% year-on-year in each of the last five quarters in India. India is a key market for Snap and we are building on this momentum.

We continue to learn from our Indian community, and we see a natural connection with our community here. Snapchat is focused on visual, expressive communication with those we care about the most. This has become more important than ever in the wake of the global pandemic, and it’s been great to see how Indians have embraced Snapchat.

We have been working hard to make Snapchat both culturally and locally relevant. We are now available in 9 Indian languages. Furthermore, we have aired content from 30 partners on Discover, publishing content covering many diverse topics and genres. Each series is authentic to the creator’s passion and is available to more than 70 million viewers in India who have watched Snapchat Shows in the last year.

India is one of the few countries where Snap is creating Originals. Earlier this year, we launched India’s first Snap Original ‘Phone Swap India,’ a dating reality show in Hinglish. This is also the first non-English Snap Original. Last month, we launched our two new creator shows, ‘What’s on my plate’ with Anushka Sen and Vir Das - The Most Epic Max Show, for which have received a tremendous response.  We have also invested in a range of creative tools for local cultural moments such as Diwali, Holi as well as regional festivals such as Pongal, Lohri, and Makar Sankranti. For example, our community played with Diwali-themed Lenses more than 500 million times last year.

We continue to expand our network of  Indian partners and experiences into other aspects of Snapchat like SnapGames (Ludo Club), SnapKit (NDTV and Moj) and Here For You, our mental health and well-being feature in partnership with the Mariwala Health Initiative and Manas Foundation. We have also worked with leading mobile partners including Jio and Samsung to distribute our app on popular smartphones and drive creative programs such as ‘Jio’s Got Talent’.  

We also launched Spotlight in India to empower Snapchatters to entertain our community while living up to Snapchat values, with our community’s well-being as a top priority.

Has the growth in user base translated into gains in ad revenue?
As Snapchat ads are full-screen, immersive and engaging they inspire action and work for all advertisers, from global brands, to small and medium businesses. Advertising on Snapchat allows you to connect with Snapchatters in a way that’s conversational, non-intrusive, and feels organic to the platform. Our ads are also tailored to advertising needs and business goals. With all the above, Snap has become a preferred platform for brands. We have worked with brands across sectors including Samsung, Intel Evo, HP, Nykaa, Spotify, One Plus, Swiggy and Amazon Prime Video to name a few.

How are you growing the ad business in India?

In India, we work with brands across entertainment, media, fashion, retail and tech to create engaging campaigns to help them expand their reach. So far, we have collaborated with the likes of Amazon Prime Video, Swiggy, Nykaa, Spotify, One Plus and more. We also launched ‘Snap in Focus’ - a program to educate agencies and marketers on the potential of Snapchat. The curriculum features six courses offering a foundational understanding of Snapchat, the Snapchat Generation, advertising formats and opportunities, how to deploy media and creative campaigns in Ads Manager and create best practices.
We also announced a strategic partnership with Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN), the global media & marketing communications conglomerate, for India. Under this partnership, DAN India now includes Snapchat as one of its priority platforms to distribute ad spends for its brands serviced across the network. We’re excited to keep building our business here.

How are brands using Snap to engage with their customers?

Brands primarily work with Snap to effectively engage with the younger Indian audience. As mentioned earlier, we are working with several Indian brands to offer solutions that are best suited for them. Swiggy, the online food delivery platform, increased its user base and catered to a new set of audiences. In a 6-month-partnership with Snapchat, Swiggy explored the ad format that helped it deliver 11,000 plus new food orders each month at the lowest cost per customer acquisition.
Last year, we strengthened our ad platform to drive improved outcomes for advertisers all over the world. We have added app installs as a goal-based bidding objective for sponsored AR Lenses; and we launched Snap Connect, an extension of our online learning portal Snap Focus that focuses specifically on direct response advertising.
We pioneered augmented reality advertising at scale with Lenses and have been tirelessly innovating ever since (Landmarkers, Try On etc).
In 2018, we launched Lens Studio which allows anyone to use the same tools our team uses to create augmented reality experiences. This is how some of our Official Lens Creators (in India) have even built their own businesses. AR is revolutionizing how people communicate, are entertained, learn and experience the world, shop, and we see this evolution accelerating.
We partnered with Red Chillies Entertainment to launch the first AR Lens for a film in India to promote the launch of Zero. Also, last year we collaborated with Amazon Prime Video for the second season of the Amazon original series titled, 'Four More Shots Please!'. OnePlus created Lenses for Diwali as a means to bring people together safely during a pandemic. Their Lenses garnered over 80 million impressions and reached over 14 million Snapchatters in India.
We’re seeing positive results from campaigns like these and are looking forward to continuing to collaborate with brands for storytelling using AR.
We also recently launched Public profiles on Snapchat that allows businesses of all sizes a free, permanent home on Snapchat to house all their content. Announced at Snap Partner Summit 2021, Public Profiles give brands the ability to get discovered organically, engage with customers, build a following, sell products, and manage profiles - all from one discoverable place.

What are your plans for 2021 and any specific areas that you will be focusing on as far as advertising is concerned?

At Snap, we have always been focused on creativity and innovation. We’ve spent the last several years investing in Lens capabilities, so now we’ve got brands covered from head to toe. We’re working to improve the underlying technology to make Lenses more realistic, immersive, accurate and easy to navigate. We are very excited to share some of our new products & partnership announcements within the shopping & fashion category that are helping to change the future of fashion and create an amazing shopping experience for GenZ. As we look ahead to this year, we will double down investment in partnerships, experiences and product developments that help Snapchat resonate with our community in India.
This year we have introduced API-enabled Lenses. For the first time, businesses can now tap into dynamic and automatic ways to feature their real-time content in AR without additional work. Shopping and browsing products bring in-store experiences even closer to home when Lenses are connected to up-to-date product inventory instead of showing products that are out of stock or unavailable.

We have further added a new round of technically advanced and fashion-forward features that make virtual shopping and ‘try-on’ experiences much more realistic, accurate and easy to use for our audience. We have also added new categories to Scan, to change the way we shop, browse, and find inspiration.

What have been the key learnings for Snap while working with Indian clients?
Indian brands are now looking for ways to creatively engage their audience. They want to be more expressive and are willing to try new formats to ensure they resonate with millennials and Gen Z. In a recent study of this group of Gen Z - which we call the Snapchat Generation, we found that they represent a new kind of consumer, one who is willing to immerse themselves in stories and experiences, using the latest tech and mobile convenience to their advantage. To ensure they resonate with the younger cohort, brands are now getting more inclined towards augmented reality, gamification and engaging advertising tools. As we continue to strengthen our presence in India, we do foresee a lot more brands engaging with our creative tools to create unique ad solutions, true to their brand identity.

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