Tales from the Marketing Trenches: Snapchat Geofilters - eMarketer
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Tales from the Marketing Trenches: Snapchat Geofilters

Slam dunk? Yes. Hassle free? No.

Working with a new platform is always tricky. Working with a platform as unusual as Snapchat is even more challenging.

Snapchat Penetration Among US Smartphone App Users, by Age, June 2013 & June 2016 (% reach)

But Snapchat’s audience is too attractive for marketers to ignore. comScore data from June 2016 indicates that Snapchat reaches 70% of 18- to 24-year-olds and 41% of 25- to 34-year-olds.

eMarketer’s Maria Minsker checked in with Kate Paine, digital marketing manager at Ben & Jerry’s, to discuss her experience working with Snapchat’s signature ad product, the geofilter.

“From a marketing perspective,” Paine said, her experience creating branded geofilters was “a slam dunk.” But there were hassles.

The Ben & Jerry’s campaign in question was built around its annual Free Cone Day celebration. The goal was to launch a geofilter at every participating Ben & Jerry’s location so that customers could snap and share photos as they waited on line.

Defining those locations, though, proved to be a challenge.

“We could buy a national filter and pay through the nose, but we wanted to just buy geofilters around our stores,” Paine said. “To achieve that, we had to spend a long time geofencing every single location, and buy the filter through a separate transaction for every single store.”

The hassles of managing a sheaf of locations was disappointing. “The platform is not set up for brands to do what they need to do,” she said.

Last week, Snapchat announced a partnership with location-based social media platform Foursquare that will give Snapchat access to 87 million places in Foursquare’s database, enabling companies to buy geofilters around locations already identified by Foursquare. The arrangement should make it easier to geofence locations for geofilters, and offer a more affordable alternative for marketers who want to target a large number of locations simultaneously.

Not all of Ben & Jerry’s attempts with geofilters were as successful as the Free Cone Day campaign. Looking back, Paine said she realized that “the filters didn’t work because people probably weren’t pulling out their phones at that moment. They’re not always looking to log on and capture moments on Snapchat,” she said.

“We tend to experiment a lot, and sometimes there are even filters that we know we won’t get much out of, but we want to get the learning from it,” she said. “We end up having our fair share of not necessarily failures, but learning experiences.”

The willingness to experiment is key, she said. “With Snapchat, there’s great potential there, and we’re diving in at the beginning to a certain degree. But, [we’re still cautious] because we like to know that our money is working and that ads are landing with the right people.”

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