How Snapchat's new Brand Profiles give advertisers a presence that won't just disappear in a day
At Snapchat, the company mantra used to be that permanence is bad and ephemerality is good. Well, ephemerality is still good but, for a special class of users—namely, brands—permanence is just better.
This week, Snapchat made that new distinction clear when it rolled out Brand Profiles, which are giving a select group of companies a space inside the app where their content will no longer disappear into the ether after a day.
Since its inception, Snapchat made a revolutionary claim on the internet—that disappearing photos and videos were the cornerstone of free expression online. For its 229 million daily users worldwide, Snapchat is a place to easily create videos and photos with messages that self-destruct within 24 hours. The ease of creation and destruction gave people some assurances that their online persona would not live on forever. Brands, however, were less enamored with the idea that whatever they created was fleeting.
“The ephemerality definitely was a little bit of a thorn in a lot of brands’ sides,” says Craig Elimeliah, executive creative director at VMLY&R.
On Wednesday, Snapchat launched Brand Profiles, offering the feature to 30 brands, including Dior, Prada, Gucci, NBCUniversal, Tim Hortons and Target. Kylie Cosmetics, which was founded by Kylie Jenner, one of Snapchat’s most-active celebrities, is also in the beta test of Brand Profiles.
Brand channels and accounts are home bases for marketers to plant a flag on digital properties like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and now Snapchat, too. They are a path for the platforms to build longer-lasting ties with marketers, which eventually turn that free presence into paid advertising relationships.
“An ephemeral platform like Snapchat is capitulating to brand advertisers and agencies by introducing permanent profiles that make stories and experiences permanent on their profiles,” says Raj Nijjer, VP marketing Yotpo, an e-commerce marketing platform.
Snapchat’s Brand Profiles are places to set up e-commerce shops linked to Shopify accounts. The profiles will host brands’ videos, and also offer a place to stash their Lenses, the augmented-reality filters that consumers stick on their selfies. Lenses are high-production marketing vehicles and technically challenging to create. They can be expensive to build and promote. For a lot of brands, the effort to build augmented reality was daunting since the content had limited windows of existence.
Nijjer envisions shopping will become even more endemic on Snapchat as profiles get pick-up. Brands like Gucci create Lenses that interact with products and logos. Consumers can try on products virtually using Lenses, scrolling through variations of sneakers or lipstick shades, which are projected through the Snapchat camera on to the person shopping online.
“The permanent or pinned experiences can drive commerce by featuring products with platform specific, exclusive drops, [and] limited quantity promotions,” Nijjer says. “Or traditional brands like Disney can target younger consumers by collaborating with Gen Z brands like Kith and Supreme while taking advantage of Snapchat specific features like Lenses.”
While Gatorade is not among the launch partners for profiles, the brand was one of the first to turn Lenses into marketing with a Super Bowl campaign in 2016. Gatorade is still in the Lens game, too, with a “Ready to Play. Anything” campaign on Snapchat this week that deploys augmented reality technology. The campaign will also have some tie-ins with TikTok, the China-backed app that is one of Snapchat’s growing rivals.
Nick Lopezzo, director of marketing campaigns at Gatorade, says the brand would adopt profiles when they become more widely available.
“Historically, Snapchat has been a great environment for Gatorade to engage with athletes,” Lopezzo said in an email. “Given our past success on the platform, we’re definitely interested in exploring new capabilities, like Brand Profiles, which have the potential to extend that engagement and attract new athletes.”
In the first quarter, Snapchat reported $462 million in revenue, an increase of 44 percent year over year. Its ad fortunes have improved the more it builds products for brands that make it easier to create for the platform and to put money behind those creations, turning them into ads to reach wider audiences.
While Brand Profiles launched with only 30 top brands, the plan is to make them widely available to all businesses.
“Brand Profiles bring brands a permanent home on Snapchat, unlocking new avenues for customer discovery and engagement,” said Carolina Arguelles, Snapchat’s global product marketing manager, in an email statement. “We’re also offering brands insights into their subscribers through our online Business Manager, which will help partners learn about their customers and forge evermore meaningful connections with the Snapchat community.”
Many brands already run Snapchat accounts, which are just like an everyday user’s account, where they share videos and photos. When brands upgrade to profiles they take their followers with them, so they automatically reach the same audiences they were getting through their regular channels on Snapchat.
The Brand Profiles give Snapchat a whole new line into consumer behavior. If brands can get people to buy their products through the profiles, Snapchat will access information on shopping trends.
Snapchat can learn more about people’s “affinities and the types of things they’re interested in and types of things they want to consume,” Elimeliah says. “They’re using an opt-in method to get people to self-select the types of ads that will ultimately be put in front of them.”