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.