2016 was the year Snapchat crossed over into the mainstream. For over 10 years, I’ve consulted with teams and had countless discussions with sports marketers about different social platforms and their relevance. It became very clear that Snapchat was the next big thing.
Many teams have struggled over the years with integrating social assets into their sponsorship inventory. Back in 2009/10, the job of assessing and pricing these activations was a big part of my work. For innovative teams, the future was wide open with little comparative value to establish benchmarks. Even with a set inventory, proper training to enable sales teams to build and pitch the business, and educate their corporate partners was a whole other story.
But Snapchat isn’t really a social media platform. It’s a private media app with social tendencies. Snapchat is a mobile only dynamo with a massive daily user base, a focus on immediate, ephemeral content with pedestrian execution and rather frivolous features that are often weird and bizarre – and none of it will remain posted for longer then 24 hours. It’s place and presence as a popular platform was obvious – but how the hell were you going to sell THIS? It didn’t work like other social platforms at all, but that’s also a huge part of why it has been so successful. It is completely different from Facebook, except in one very important way…
The way people talked about Snapchat was exactly like the way they talked about Facebook 7 years ago. “It wont last. I don’t get it. There’s no way to monetize this.”
But there was. Snapchat understood the task of building a profitable ad business more than anyone. And they did in the form of on-demand custom filters and a small selection of agency partners to handle larger and more complex media buys. So now, it was possible to buy a $750,000-$1M plus branded lens with national reach. Gatorade did for the Super Bowl. Also, Snapchat announced a partnership with the NFL that included a hefty sponsorship buy. This deepened with a NFL Discover Story, the first pro sports league to do so.
This is all very big business, but what’s your average team to do? How can a team make good use of Snapchat not only as a marketing platform, but for Sponsorship activation? I asked a number of contacts where they were at regarding sponsorship and Snapchat, and got a lot of different answers. In fact, going to into the writing of this article, I was only aware of one team that had actually used it with a partner and that was the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. Now, I live in Vancouver and as the Canucks are a former client, their digital activities are front and centre for me.
In my discussions with sports marketing contacts, I got a lot of feedback like, “Snapchat? We’re having enough trouble with partners on Facebook and Twitter!”. I’ve provided a lot of sales training in my career, in and out of sports, and I know sales reps always take the fastest path to the dollar. Who can blame them? That’s why digital education is so critical to business success, because if you’re still selling banner ads, then we need to talk…
Social marketing is a constantly changing space and teams are often at a loss on how to value inventories. I get that – so here’s a great example of how another NHL team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, has developed sponsored Snapchat filter content.
I connected with Andi Perelman, Manager of New Media for the Penguins, and when I asked her for some background on the Penguins’ process for Snapchat activations, she told me, “We did a pretty great scavenger hunt around the city for Key Bank. We have also laid out a couple ways to do partner activations on Snapchat. Snapchat has been incredibly helpful in helping us activate on the platform. We are currently working on an awesome ‘Snapcode’ project that will allow fans to use the filter we design (by scanning a Snapcode) regardless of location. While this isn’t something we can tie to a partner just yet, we are hopeful that this will be a future way to activate with young fans outside our market on Snapchat.”
Some background – Snapchat filters are transparent, so the user can frame their photos or videos within the filter. As you can see, and is consistent with other branded filters, these are hardly graphic design heavy execution. In fact, the simpler, the better – as the primary goal is to enhance or feature the user experience. They don’t require a lot of prep and can be submitted for approval to Snapchat for a pretty quick turn around. Here’s a couple other things to keep in mind:
1) The maximum geofence for a Snapchat filter is 5M square feet. You’re not going to be able to activate your entire city, but when targeting a stadium, arena or other sports event, you are pretty much good to go.
2) Costs are based on size of the geofence and duration of the filter’s availability. BUT, Snapchat also knows if an arena or stadium is within your fence and its more expensive than a location without one.
Snapchat filters are on trend, not difficult to execute and when explained in simple terms, are not hard to sell! Have fun and think fans first.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Carson Mckee is a senior marketing and advertising professional with 10+ years of big brand experience with Ford, NFL, Denny's, NHL teams, Circle K. Agency, freelance and independent consultant roles. He's an outside the box thinker with demonstrated cliche worthy, "provide value" capabilities.