In a world where teenagers and adults alike seem to be checking their mobile devices every few minutes (or seconds), ignoring your compelling conversation to scroll aimlessly down their Facebook newsfeeds, uploading selfies to Instagram or sending the odd Tweet, it comes as no surprise that social media sites are an excellent platform for advertising. And a few big brands in New Zealand have now started using image and video-sharing mobile app Snapchat as a marketing tool.
Spark, Vodafone, ASB and Skinny Mobile are a few big names that have seen the value in using Snapchat to target a younger audience.
According to AdNews, some 400 million snaps are sent through the app each day and 90 percent of its estimated audience is made up of 13- to 17-year-olds.
ASB currently has a Snapchat campaign running where users need to add ASBBank on Snapchat and it releases two challenges each week on the ‘My Story’ section. Each challenge is open for 24 hours and those who complete it enter their details to go into the draw to win anything from McDonald’s vouchers to concert tickets.
There are a total of 22 scholarships to be won between January 5 2015 and March 20 2015, with every challenge entered correctly also being added to a draw to win $10,000, which will be deposited into an ASB Tertiary account.
ASB head of brand and retail marketing Shane Evans says the bank is very happy with how Snapchat users have engaged with the campaign and that the concept really seems to have resonated with students.
“Ten [scholarships] have already been won, and we have plenty more to go. The grand scholarship of $10,000 will be drawn at the end of the campaign. All our followers on Snapchat are tertiary-aged as we can see this when they enter the weekly challenges.”
Evans says through talking to its tertiary-aged customers it became obvious that Snapchat is the most popular app they use.
“It’s important for us to be in the channels that our customers are most comfortable using. Snapchat has allowed us to talk directly to tertiary students to help them succeed with the next phase of their financial lives as they make new financial decisions.”
Last February, Vodafone took to its social channels to ask fans from Canterbury and Otago Universities to add the company on Snapchat. It built its following from 48 to 400 users in a week.
The telco used the application to send snaps to those who added the company, assigning them a task and revealing the location of a lycra-suited 'morph man' carrying helium balloons with prizes in them.
Vodafone external communications specialist Brad Pogson also confirmed it is “highly likely” Vodafone will use Snapchat again as part of it’s campaign for this year’s O-week season.
Rival telco Spark has also used Snapchat, asking Rhythm and Vines New Year’s partiers to add it for the chance to win prizes. This campaign led to 183,000 Snapchat views of Spark's Rythm and Vines stories over the three-day period of the festival.
"We are NZ’s largest Snapchat account, with a typical week-long Spark Snapchat campaign being viewed by around 150,000 - 180,000 Snapchatters," says Spark Home, Mobile and Business PR manager Lucy Fullarton. "It’s been a really exciting new channel for us to work with. We use it to engage with our customers and have a bit of fun, rather than straight advertising per se."
Spark's first experiments with Snapchat coincided with the company's rebrand from Telecom last year.
"Our first Snapchat campaign was the Spark Automatic Thanks Machine last year, which was wildly successful – in our first week we averaged 11,500 views each day," says Fullarton. "On average, we’d receive around 50 individual Snapchats a day from our friends, which allows us to have really fun, humorous and timely dialogue. It’s a channel that we can be personable in – directly responding to customers snaps quickly."
Radio stations too are seeing the benefits of using Snapchat. The Edge Brand Manager Rachel Langford confirmed to StopPress that Snapchat was a natural evolution of its social space, calling it a platform that allows the station to be “immediate, honest and real” – the station targets 18-39 year-old Kiwi women.
“The Edge uses Snapchat to share exclusive content for each individual show, and for events. At the 2014 Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards, The Edge utilised Snapchat as part of ‘The Edge Gets You Closer’ campaign. We gathered Artist ‘Snapchat Autographs’ backstage and on the red carpet.”
Langford says the results are phenomenal in terms of numbers and audience feedback.
“Our audience simply expect us to be here and we’re having a good time delivering the goods.”
Hosts of The Edge FM’s SMASH! 20 and The Edge TV’s SMASH! Marty Hehewerth and Steph Monks started using Snapchat last year and say it’s their main social platform for connecting with their audience off-air.
“We can create content that isn’t about perfectly shot photos and videos, it’s about sharing raw footage of us doing whatever the heck we want, there and then.”
Mosh social media strategist Jeremy Marks says the Snapchat advertising phenomenon is still pretty new, though Mosh has suggested it to some of its clients.
Marks says that while these companies are using Snapchat, users are always directed somewhere else, for example, to the companies’ websites.
“We haven’t seen a complete campaign using Snapchat, it’s more just diddling around on the edges. From Snapchat’s perspective they’re starting to build the capability into their app so now businesses and brands can use it. Snapchat are continuing to develop it so we can leverage it as marketers.”
He says it’s the big US organisations that are getting involved first, some paying a hefty $750,000 fee to advertise, according to Adweek, 50 percent higher than the masthead on YouTube.
“It’s probably more of a test than anything. Other platforms like Facebook will invite big brands to run big campaigns and they will provide them with special functionality before rolling it out to the rest of the world.”
Last month, Snapchat launched ‘Discover,’ which it says is a new way to explore stories from different editorial teams.
It essentially allows users to access ‘editions’, which consist of video, photography and text from 11 different media companies (CNN, Cosmopolitan, National Geographic and Daily Mail, to name a few).
The editions are refreshed every 24 hours with each company picking about six or seven to be featured in a single edition. While these include ads, the users are able to skip them, but the editions alone are of course advertising, and it would seem, an effective way of targeting a young audience who perhaps wouldn’t usually visit these particular outlets.
The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) and Clemenger BBDO also saw the value in using the app, and created a campaign last year to warn against drug-driving, where users added ‘Tinnyvision’ as a friend, after which they were sent a series of (mostly) funny stoner snaps directed by Taika Waititi.
Skinny mobile used it last year to give away mobile credit in a campaign with Auckland-based digital agency Young and Shand.
While Snapchat ad-campaigning is slowly gaining momentum, it’s early days yet, and Snapchat is likely to stick around.