Snapchat Is Doling Out Free Stats to Brands on How Many Users Visit Their Locations

It's also rolling out new IRL targeting tools

Snapchat's Snap Maps feature has more than 100 million monthly users.
Snapchat

After a rough first year as a public company, Snapchat is looking for ways to differentiate itself from other social platforms, and it’s possibly found one way: location.

Location and social media have a long history of not working out well. Facebook has tried several times to crack location (most recently with a stand-alone app called Events), while apps like Foursquare originally focused on check-ins and gaming features that allowed consumers to compete with their friends. And at a time when the terms “data breach” and “hacks” are part of seemingly every conversation around social media, the notion of a platform investing in building out a location-data arm might seem like a fool’s errand.

Snap disagrees and thinks it can succeed where others have failed. The company has acquired two location firms—Placed and Zenly—and has put “significant engineering resources” into location across advertising and revenue, content, and product teams.

In August, Snapchat began testing Snap to Store, a product to track whether people who viewed an advertiser’s ad then went to a store. Now, Snapchat is making that feature available to all brands, whether they buy advertising or not. Much like how Foursquare and other location-based companies can anonymously track a consumers’ location to gather insights, the idea is to “give marketers visibility into the scale of audiences who use Snapchat near their venues every day,” said Max Maxwell, director of revenue product of audience and location at Snapchat.

Maxwell added that foot traffic stats provide marketers with “a sense of which day’s traffic is highest, what hours of the day are most relevant that are agnostic of any campaign that they may be running at that moment.”

The stats include visitation metrics, including how many people visited a store and how many came back, as well as audience stats like users’ demographics and interests.

Omer Nisar, senior partner and group director at WPP-owned Essence, thinks that because of this information, Snapchat can succeed at location-based marketing where other platforms have failed.

“The differentiator for Snapchat is in the audience to which they provide access,” he said. “Combining location and a highly sought-after demographic makes the location addition a welcome one for us.”

Madwell’s CEO David Eisenman said Snapchat can still be tough to justify in budgets but that location’s “ability to define performance so tangibly could definitely change how we advise our clients to invest their media dollars.”

“We’ll test and learn, and if we see good results, we’d for sure be open to moving dollars there,” he said.

Maxwell added: “We want to give marketers visibility into the scale of audiences who use Snapchat near their venues every day so that they have a sense of which day’s traffic is highest, what hours of the day are most relevant that are agnostic of any campaign that they may be running at that moment.”

Snapchat is also unveiling a feature called location categories that let brands target ads directly at specific types of locations. There are 150 categories that range from broad areas like beaches to specific places such as housewares stores and coffee shops.

There’s also a new geofencing feature called radius targeting that can pinpoint addresses or latitude-longitude coordinates and serve Snapchat ads only in the radius around that area, which can be within 0.63 miles to 62 miles. Flight-booking app Hopper, for example, wrapped ads around airports with copy that encouraged consumers to book a flight on the go. According to Hopper, Snapchat quadrupled the company’s booking rates compared to other social ads, prompting Hopper to increase its Snapchat budget fivefold and make the app its primary acquisition channel.

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