Remember the good old days when watching TV was like eating off a set menu; you just pick and choose what you want? Or how catching an episode of your favourite soap meant being in front of the television in time, lest you miss an unexpectedly delicious twist in the tale?
Well, now there’s Snapchat. The video messaging application has managed to bring back the primitive television-watching experience onto today’s smartphones, and feed it to a thirsty throng of millennials (13 – 34 year olds account for 86% of today’s Snapchat audience). Its ‘Discover’ feature even has a tab that features a list of channels with the content refreshing itself daily ensuring there’s absolutely no way for you to catch a re-run of a video you may have missed out.
What you have, is a couple of channels and exclusive content that is essentially available for ‘appointment-viewing‘ – if you don’t catch it, you miss it. This is not new though; we already experienced this back when television sets began to enter households. So, what is it that makes Snapchat so refreshing to use?
Simply that it creates the illusion of urgency. Danielle Mullin, VP of Marketing at ABC Family, sums it up perfectly in an interview to Fast Company, “If your email inbox was going to disappear in 24 hours, you would feel the need to actually read every single mail. That’s the genius of Snapchat.”
Loved by users and advertisers alike
With statistics showing an impressive 100 million users every day and audiences coming back to a single channel five out of seven days, it’s no wonder advertisers are quickly gaining interest in this social media platform. The success of the 2014 broadcast of MTV’s Video Music Awards (VMAs), receiving 25 million views as compared to MTV’s own 5 million viewers on its Snapchat account, makes it no surprise that brands like Verizon and Taco Bell grabbed the narrow advertisement slots made available by Snapchat for the show despite the steep rate of $200,000 per sponsor. Advertisers love Snapchat because they know for sure whether users actually saw their advertisement given that these users have to hold a finger down on the screen the entire time they are watching an ad.
Viacom sales chief, Jeff Lucas, claims that Snapchat is ‘targeted television on mobile’. The trend has shifted such that users are turning to mobile applications for news and updates, potentially making applications like Snapchat become big players in the video business. While Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and most other social-media platforms rely largely on user-generated content, Snapchat offers a smorgasbord of highly rich content curated by a smattering of media partners like Vice or CNN.
Still, the underlying concept and rising success of Snapchat’s workings have continued to remain a mystery to many experienced marketers. Earlier this year, co-founder and CEO, Evan Spiegel released a video titled, ‘What is Snapchat’ that left viewers all over the world scratching their heads. Even big brands that use its advertising platform call it ‘confusing’ and a ‘conundrum’. Snapchat is simply an ode to throwback TV-viewing where you don’t have to make the effort to search for entertainment; you just have to sit back and watch.
Will Snapchat, in all its rebranded television glory, offer something unexpected to A-list advertisers that television has not been able to? Clearly, the company has faith in itself. Snapchat turned down a $3 million acquisition offer from Facebook and Bloomberg, and recently estimated its valuation at $19 billion. Will it live up to user expectations and be as great as TV was? If you’re a business owner, we think it could work well for you. You’ll get to show behind the scene shots to show your audiences, enabling you to engage and create conversations with them.
Take note though, Snapchat is not the only of its kind to exist within the video industry. Up and coming apps such as Periscope, similar to Snapchat, are already trying to build and break their way into the market. What is most important is keeping an open mind to trying new apps and use the one that works best in helping you best engage with your audience. We think it’s definitely worth a shot, given that mobile apps and video ads are set to be the trend this year, what about you?