How Snapchat, Tinder Can Better Serve Advertisers

Snapchat and Tinder are still struggling to introduce functions that allow brands to communicate with audiences in an effective way.

The possibilities for brands and social networks are limitless. But with the new generation of social networks, it seems like these possibilities haven’t quite been thought through enough.

It may be that servicing consumers come first, and rightly so, but in order to thrive and be able to secure revenue to take those networks to the next level, brands and their needs must be recognized. Brands can only do so much to overcome obstacles before they walk away.

While established social networks like Facebook and Twitter have by and large worked out how best to work with brands to reach their audiences, new-generation networks such as Snapchat and Tinder are still struggling to introduce functions that allow brands to communicate with audiences in an effective way.

As a result, brands are missing out on major commercial opportunities, social networks on advertising revenue and consumers–particularly the young–on exciting information and offers from favorite brands.

This, I believe, is largely due to problems with technology, but also a lack of understanding and inability by the majority of big brands to come up with innovative ways to overcome these hurdles.

For example, with more than 150 million daily users, 74 percent of which are under the age of 34, Snapchat is an advertiser’s dream. People spend on average 30 minutes each day using the application, and more than one-half (58 percent) are more likely to respond to a promotion than on Facebook or Twitter.

But discoverability on Snapchat is a big problem. I regularly hear from friends complaining that they can’t search on Snapchat for their favorite brand by its name or category–they have to know the distinct user name, which isn’t always a straight brand name. Plus, brands can’t easily and proactively reach out to their audience.

A second example is Tinder. With more than 50 million active users checking their account 11 times each day and spending on average 90 minutes per day on the app, I believe Tinder is another missed opportunity for brands today.

The lack of available information and metrics on its users makes it difficult to tailor ads, create bespoke branded content and analyze how successful ads have been. At the moment, ads are displayed to everyone in the same format as users’ profiles, meaning users can swipe past an ad without even looking at it.

‘Making the best’ of networks’ failures

The implication of social networks being suboptimal for brands is something I’m increasingly noticing. Brands are having to come up with ways to get around and “make the best” of networks’ failures. Largely, their solutions are clunky, in some ways old-fashioned and mostly ineffective.

At the same time, in order to appease brands and avoid losing out on even more revenue, social networks are having to introduce “halfway-house” features that acknowledge and attempt to address the problems brands are having, but without really coming up with a long term solution.

Brands are resorting to promoting their Snapchat user names on other social network channels such as Instagram and Facebook. This is typically done in posts that feature the brands’ Snapcodes or in their bios.

The issue here is that people either have to take a screenshot of the Snapcode or retype that username into Snapchat. This seems like an incredibly long winded, time consuming process that isn’t going to appeal to a young generation that wants everything done at speed and with ease.

With Tinder, very few brands are in fact advertising on the platform. They are deterred by the lack of metrics. For fashion brands, Tinder could be the perfect platform, but these brands tend to demand metrics on their social media audience.

Also Tinder’s suboptimal format means ads only appear every 100 swipes or so. Consequently, unless they are prolific users, people are unlikely to ever actually see the ad or branded content. If they do, then it’s unlikely that the user will see the ad for more than two seconds. The brands that do advertise on Tinder are relying on high user engagement.

How can these problems be addressed?

It’s largely back to basics: Brands need information on their audiences in order to target effectively. Both Snap Inc. (the new parent company name encompassing Snapchat and its new Spectacles photo sunglasses) and Tinder need to massively up their game when it comes to providing metrics. If you want to play with the big boys, then start providing the data they need.

For example, Snap Inc. needs to provide more information on age, location and other interests. By integrating invitation and sharing facilities within the app, brands could tell which users share content and can then analyse why that is. Tinder needs to simply change its sign up process to acquire more information on its users.

Second, it seems obvious, but brands need to be able to reach out to their audiences. To do this, Snap Inc. needs to sort out its discoverability problems and set up push notifications so that brands like Jack Wills, which has an active Snapchat profile, can tell consumers when it has a new range or catalog out. Otherwise brands are always on the back-foot.

Integrating the app Snapsearch—for Snapchat into Snapchat, for example, would solve discoverability issues and allow brands to be found far more easily. Users would be able to search for brands by their name, category or be invited to that brand by friends. Furthermore, it has the ability for brands to send push notifications to their followers alerting them to new content.

Finally, Tinder really needs to look at its current advertising format. I would argue that it should employ a model like YouTube so when you get a match or someone “super likes” you, you need to watch a five-second ad before you can see that match or person. Its current one-second format doesn’t hold any traction or appeal for consumers or brands. It could also easily introduce hyperlinks into ads allowing users to go to the website of the brand directly from Tinder.

It’s time for networks to step up and take control

Having big brands on board with social networks is mostly a positive. As long as it’s a targeted approach, consumers will be able to find great branded content easily and be provided with promotional offers, news and exclusives–an enhanced experience for all those involved.

However, at the moment, no one is in control. Consumers aren’t getting what they want from brands, the brands are unable to reach the consumers and the networks are losing out on revenue.

It’s time for the new generation of social networks to step up and take control. In order to generate meaningful ad revenue, the networks must now create a compelling proposition for brands to operate on their platform.

James Bryan is the founder of the Snapsearch—for Snapchat app, which can be downloaded via the iTunes App Store or via its website.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.