January 26, 2018

What, exactly, is the media value of Snapchat?

We can go ahead and just air that question out loud. It’s okay to ask.
By now most folks are aware that Snapchat is a bit of a wildcard in the arena of media. Five years ago it was the up and comer. Two years ago it was threatening to be the future of social media. One year ago it was the Facebook Ad killer — and none of that has actually panned out. But the platform continues to hold solid ground while anyone that isn’t a daily user continues to scratch their head.
Snapchat has 170 million daily users at last count. That’s their flagship statistic. By comparison using late 2017's figures, Facebook has 1.3 billion, Instagram has 500 million, and Twitter has 330 million. And when you know that Snapchat’s audience of daily users is almost entirely between the ages of 13 and 30  you have an audience platform that can't be ignored. And now we can begin to understand the hype.
However, what is the platform doing to deliver on that value and monetize that opportunity? We aren’t sure. The data on how users are using Snapchat is extremely limited as of now, but in the meantime, Snapchat can tout the daily users and the valuable makeup of that audience to advertisers.
Putting the advertising value in perspective, Instagram’s Story feature alone has more users than Snapchat has total users, that’s 180 million. The makeup of that audience leans older but the volume and behaviors of Insta’s audience makes it more practical as a “planned, bought and measured” ad platform. The ad units available through Facebook and Instagram are more versatile and more adaptable to different objectives as well.
We call it a social media community. And social advertising is a commodity, but Snapchat is  really more of a messaging application. First and foremost it's a space for young people to send video and images to each other in privacy. But are these young people interacting with the publisher content in the Discover section of the app? Are they engaging with the ads in a meaningful way? According to a recent article on The Daily Beast, the data is not made available by Snapchat, but the simplest answer is “not much.”
So what exactly is the value of Snapchat? It’s what the kids are doing. And that’s cool. It’s setting new trends and inventing new rules. It was the first to favor vertical video and gave the world face filters. If a brand can do something organic and innovative and it gets noticed, then it can help your brand gain some favorable press, and it’s definitely fertile territory for cool points in the industry.
The data is still out on whether the ad product matters with the audience and whether the audience is who they say they are.
At this point, among a variety of very effective pay-and-measure ad channels, it’s still a variable. We believe it’s absolutely a worthwhile experiment for brands that are committed to the channel and able to optimize on performance. It’s definitely a testable variable that’s well positioned to generate word of mouth (and industry PR) for a brand that’s authentically participating in the culture of the community.
Jeff Smack
Director of Interactive Media

February 13, 2017

Transcending Authenticity

“Authenticity” was one of the most repeated terms in the communications industry during the past year. Amid the buzz, we offered our POV on it early last year too. In a new, disruptive but insightful Adweek article, Constance DeCherney from TDA_Boulder, asks us to think more in depth about the word “authentic” and how else brands should start defining themselves in 2017.
“You can’t be just authentic. Alone, defining a brand by authenticity lacks clarity, is open to interpretation, and it’s ambiguous. You might be an authentic sociopath, liar, narcissist or jerk. You can be authentic to something or from somewhere but you can’t be just authentic,” writes DeCherney.
In order to move forward, we need to consider authenticity as a necessary trait to any healthy brand and no longer a differentiating characteristic. This refined attitude will help brands get past relying on a popular/overused insight and towards thinking about who they truly are, what they do best, and what makes them unique.
We don't need to fully neglect the idea of authenticity. We need to make sure we are looking beyond it in order to reach more exclusive brand positioning.
Emily Mondloch
Market Research & Insights

November 6, 2014

Not Your Average Customer

Clicking through some recent articles, I came across a bit of research that affirms “common sense.”

In sum, it says that the advertising that works best for the broadest audience does not work best for a subset of that audience. For example, it is commonly accepted that ads designed to generate a behavioral response should be direct and straightforward, not nuanced. However, the research shows that luxury ads perform better when the ads take on more subtle qualities, such as “polite” or “beautiful.” These attributes would likely dilute immediacy, and therefore effectiveness, to the broadest population.

Seems obvious, right? But it’s a very real discussion in today’s revolutionary retail landscape.

Common sense is essential. However, it casts a big shadow over meaningful data gathered through testing and research with real customers. For this reason, the foregone conclusions of yesterday are not fore-drawn conclusions today. Especially when it comes to best serving the client and their customers.

Good advertising requires creativity, well-placed expertise and research.

In marketing circles we talk about our beliefs regarding what works and what doesn’t. We usually start with a firm knowledge of “best practices” and some subjective beliefs based in personal biases. Invariably, an anecdote or two are shared. As professionals, we identify the biases and move on to some form of research.

To this point, meaningful results are always about the customer, the end-user, first.

Best practices for any given medium serve industry-wide performance averages, which is a good place to start. But, quoting Avinash Kaushik, “There’s no such thing as an aggregated average customer.”

Well-researched customer insights simultaneously build upon and defy the averages, providing an optimized exception to the rule while unlocking a greater truth.

Jeff Smack
Digital Communications Director

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