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Snapchat Revs Up Social Commerce Efforts with New Ad Features

The social network aims to make advertising more compelling—and shoppable

January 12, 2017 | Retail & Ecommerce | Social Media

Snap Inc. is testing two new ad units, one of which can help advertisers—particularly retailers—deep link within ads, and another that simplifies auto-fill functionality for users.

While deep-linking isn't new—Instagram and Facebook have both been doing it for a while—it's new for Snapchat. Via deep-linking, an advertiser can run ads for a product they want to sell and users can "swipe up" to view and learn more about it, and then tap the screen to be taken directly to that product page.

The effort is somewhat similar to what the company did with Uber last month where the Uber app linked riders directly into Snapchat where they were able to unlock custom filters.

In addition to deep-linking, Snap also introduced an auto-fill feature, which the company says is a simpler way for people to fill out forms on their mobile devices with a one tap opt-in. Essentially, the lead-generation form that advertisers require users to complete will be automatically entered with contact information that users have already given Snapchat at sign-up, including their name, email address and phone number.

"Snap's new features make its advertising platform more amenable to the type of direct response advertising that could make it a social commerce player," said eMarketer analyst Yory Wurmser. "Mobile retail above all is about relevant, compelling images and simplicity."

Snap has had images since its inception, and now it is laying the groundwork for simpler links to experiences outside the platform. Making these calls to action easier to choose should make Snap's ads more compelling and more trackable—and in the long run—more open to shoppable ads," Wurmser said.

Though the new ad features are a step in the right direction, especially when it comes to social commerce, the company has a ways to go—not only to keep up with other social networks that have been doing this for some time, but also in terms of the state of social commerce today.

Metrics are mixed on social commerce. Data from Sumo Heavy found that 18.2% of US internet users have purchased products directly via social—an increase of 8.3 percentage points from six months earlier. Still, a majority (81.9%) haven't.

—Rimma Kats

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