Snapchat Discover – impact on brands in the Middle East

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Snapchat’snew “Discover” feature delivers more value to users of the chat app and can keep them engaged, but how will this affect regional audiences? Publishers cannow reach the highly desirable under 25 crowd on their terms of immediacy, fun
and a novel format at the core of their terms; but will Middle Eastern brands
be able to compete with international media powerhouses, or will they seek to
engage power users to spread their message?

Unless
you’re under 25, Snapchat may be a complete mystery to you. Yet another
messaging app which has caught on with the teen crowd with the main draw being
the lack of lasting information. The
option to be able to continually stream parts of your life and have those
moments disappear as fast as they get produced is a lucrative option for the
61% of Saudis that according to KPCB, have no problem sharing everything online
(source: KPCB Internet report 2013).

Chatting
apps range from the extremely minimal (WhatsApp) to the packed-full-of-features
like content, gaming and banking (WeChat).
Whilst most agree that users will not use just one app, the trick is to
take more share of attention, which is why the new Discover feature launched by
Snapchat this month is exciting. Snapchat processes more than twice the number
of photos than Instagram.

 

Currently Discover is an additional page within
the app which serves as a jump off point to discover more content from media
powerhouses. This content will have a truncated shelf life, like the rest of communication
on the app. After a certain amount of time, it will no longer be available,
thus encouraging users to check in routinely

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I’ve used Business Insider’s
screen shots for quality purposes

Tapping on the Comedy Central logo, for example, brings up
a video clip from The Daily Show. If you want to see the full video segment or
article attached to a Story, just swipe down and it’ll expand.

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Snapchat Discover also includes ad integration, so each media
channel includes a sponsor, and sponsor ads are often included in their story
channel too.

An example of ESPN’s Story channel. Once you’re in a
channel, a user can swipe to the right to cycle through the available stories
and videos.

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The same swipe-down method also works for text-based
Stories, such as this ESPN article on the NBA rankings.

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Here’s what watching a Vice documentary looks like.

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The Yahoo News channel includes an intro with Katie Couric.

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Snapchat in the Middle East:

SimilarWeb
reports that Snapchat reached number 2 in the app charts for Saudi and the UAE
last year, and still maintains a strong growth rate in Saudi amongst other
markets like Latin America.

We’ve
seen sites such as Net a Porter cater to their Middle Eastern crowd by doing special
events or partnerships; recently NAP partnered with QNB bank in Qatar to
deliver an evening of fashion with sneak previews and a presentation by NAP’s
global sales and marketing director.
Group chatting app Palringo, which has the majority of its monthly
active users in Saudi and the UAE added in mobile gaming to better cater the
needs of its users.

It’s
natural to expect that Snapchat might want to consider localizing swiftly for
this growing market, by potentially opening up advertising against the existing
content or allowing local media to feature on Discover. With advertising coming
in at $750,000 per day however, this may price most regional brands out. There
hasn’t been any information yet on the cost of featuring on the Discover
page.

As
it stands, the current Discover content serves to strengthen existing brand
awareness for regional consumers, perhaps making them more attentive to engage
with their stories on other platforms. There is no linking to the brand’s
content off site, so we may expect to see more search activities, for which
Google will benefit in ad dollars. If certain content is blocked by Middle
Eastern ISP’s whilst searching; this will further strengthen Snapchat’s
positioning as a media hub and keep users engaged.

The
trend of adding in content to devices, (preloaded apps on smartphones) apps (Snapchat)
and platforms (Xbox) continues to grow.
However, not all of these deals work for all regions. Much 3rd
party content within Apple TV for example can only be accessed whilst in
America or Europe. Publishers wishing to
remain top of mind with global consumers will have to ensure their content is
licensed in multiple territories on multiple platforms and consider the
potential of censorship. Conversely, apps such as Snapchat may have to quickly
work with local content providers to ensure they themselves don’t get blocked. Tinder for example has been blocked in the
UAE, allowing the app to load, but without any of the images. Viber was also
blocked by several GCC states a while ago.

One
can easily imagine that a regional Discover page might include content from
MBC, Fox News, Citruss TV Shopping Channel, Arab Idol, National Geographic Abu
Dhabi, CNN Arabia and SkyNewsArabia. Aseer
News (a research house in Saudi) recently performed a survey on 30,000 Saudis
aged 15 – 35, and found that 40% of them prefer to read the news online, which
suggests that more local news content on Discover would be a good strategy.

These
types of media as well as the existing brands on Discover, are already known to
brands and therefore should attract advertising. In this case, Snapchat would
keep a portion of the ad revenue. However, the model is similar to Facebook’s
recent proposal to publishers in which it offered to host publishers’ stories
within the app (keeping them within Facebook not driving them off site and
speeding up load time) and give publishers a cut of mobile ad revenue in
return. This was not well received. As
readers have gone mobile, Facebook has taken advantage, in the short term
mobile ad revenue could increase, but brands don’t want to outsource their ad
sales completely to third parties. In addition, should Facebook decide their
interests are no longer aligned with those of the publishers, (as in the case
of Zynga) they will be left high and dry.

Conclusion:


It has been said that, “the only way to make your brand’s Snapchat
worth caring about is to make it change every day and make your brand an
evolving story. That means new experiences daily and having these experiences
build out a coherent brand personality”.

Advocates also point to the fact
that unlike Instagram, “Snapchat isn’t about pretty pictures” thus the brand
has an opportunity to be more authentic capturing more real life content that
is supposed to resonate with the target audience. But in emerging markets such as the Middle
East, glitz, glamour and a pretty image are highly sought after by brands and
consumers alike. Aspirational mindsets are not age specific. A Nielsen survey found that consumers in the
Middle East are amongst the most impulsive and brand-conscious shoppers in the
world. The
affinity for buying famous brands is also highest among consumers in the region
(56 per cent) and nearly half (43 per cent) tend to get their hands on new
products ahead of other consumers.

Regional brands may simply not
have the cash (for advertising or featuring on Discover) or human resources to
spend on Snapchat to make it an effective marketing channel right now. Brands
may also be wary of investing in a platform that could shortly be banned by
local regulators. Locally, Al
Hilal Bank, W Hotel Doha and Buro 24/7 (an online content portal) have already
added Snapchat to their social media presence within the last 2 months. Has this presence generated an increase in
customer acquisition or improved KPI’s in terms of customer service? It’s too
early to tell. What is key though is
that users won’t know about brand’s presence unless the Snapchat account is
broadcast on other channels. Brands that already have healthy and visible
marketing channels will benefit the most.

If the regional performance of
Instagram is anything to go by, greater success can be found by finding viral
stars of a network and working with them to promote products to their own
following. Power users who take snaps with certain products or at particular
destinations, co creating specific promotions are potentially a better way for
brands to take advantage of this medium. In order to generate new content
daily, brands will have to leverage these individuals as they generate
infinitely more content than a brand can.

As
a final thought, it might be useful to ponder that as fast as new platforms
experiment with content, and as numerous as these platforms are, it is always
the same handful of brands which are the early adopters and are able to
integrate their messaging. These are brands which have the money and resources
to innovate with an unproven medium. Outcomes are an exponential increase in
available touchpoints, but a decrease in breadth of available content, where
information is managed by a few players. This isn’t terribly different to the
old media model.

Source: New feed
Snapchat Discover – impact on brands in the Middle East

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