For the first time, brands will have their own profiles on Snapchat. The social platform will beta test the feature with 30 brands before offering it to all businesses, it hopes, by the end of the year.
The brand profiles, rolled out first to companies including Ben & Jerry’s, Gucci and Target, will serve as landing pages for select video content (that won’t disappear unless the brand wants it to), branded augmented reality lenses and a virtual in-app storefront for brands that use Shopify.
The initiative was created in the image of Snapchat’s public profiles, which were first introduced last year for high-profile creators, influencers and original shows on the app. While brand profiles have mostly the same functions as the public creator profiles, brands will be afforded unique web tools so corporate users—operating as a team—don’t have to work within the mobile app.
“We’re building toward a future where the Snapchat community can engage with businesses of all sizes across the variety of products on our service,” Carolina Arguelles, Snapchat’s global product marketing manager, said in a statement to Adweek.
Users can find the brand profiles through search, QR codes and brands’ ads. If they subscribe, they’ll see updated content from that brand in Discover, the platform’s curated hub for publisher content, shows and select influencers. Brands’ AR lenses will also populate in the Lens Explorer after users subscribe.
Snapchat has expanded its offerings to advertisers in the past year: Snap Select, six-second ads on premium Discover shows; Extended Play, a longer format where commercials run for up to three minutes; and First Commercial, a takeover product where advertisers can own the first ad any user sees for 24 hours. The company has invested heavily in augmented reality and original programming (which it emphasized at its first-ever NewFronts presentation in June), and rolled out advertising for local businesses using its maps.
Snapchat said the following 15 companies were among the 30 starting the beta Wednesday (others will start in the coming weeks):
- Ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s
- Candy Crush, the popular online game from King
- Luxury goods brand Dior
- Gucci, the Kering-owned fashion house
- Headspace, the online meditation company
- Kylie Cosmetics, Kylie Jenner’s cosmetics line
- The cosmetics company L’Oréal Paris
- Louis Vuitton, the LVMH-owned fashion house
- Luxury goods brand Prada
- Fashion company Ralph Lauren
- Retail giant Target
- Tim Hortons, the Canadian coffee and doughnut chain
- Too Faced, the makeup brand from Estee Lauder
- Film studio Universal Pictures, owned by NBCUniversal
- VSCO, the photo and video-based social media app
The new functionality helps “in a time of unforeseen market evolution and a rapid shift to online retail,” a Dior spokesperson said in a statement.
While Snapchat has long had shopping functionality in its app, it was mainly accessed directly through ads or pop-up shops accessible via QR code, like Jordan Brand’s campaign during the 2018 NBA All-Star Game.
Snapchat, which has long avoided the trappings of other social media companies, looks like it’s getting serious about being a destination for ecommerce, a space dominated by Facebook and Instagram. But as companies continue to boycott Facebook and Instagram over hate speech and misinformation on the platform—including Ben & Jerry’s and Target—Snapchat is surely looking to show advertisers it’s willing to roll out the red carpet to earn their business.