What I Learnt Talking to a Snapchat Intern from India…

Platform Level Perception Drives Brand Sales

This logo is embedded into every tween’s psyche and every media agency and brand manager’s plan. Even in countries where they don’t even have a sales office. Why?

It’s all about Perception. I spoke to a 19 yr old intern of Snap in India on Linkedin and he told me that he had been inundated with requests from media agencies and brands asking about how they can advertise on Snapchat. This was when Snap had 300,000 users in India, no geo-filters and no cool stickers.

Any other publisher (platforms that advertisers advertise on) would be super jealous. There are at-least 100 other platforms in India which have a bigger user base, a dedicated sales team, actual solutions for brands and are happy to offer leads to brands at a lower cost than Snapchat. They also actually offer leads and that too from a TG that is 20+ (who have money to spend) and not just “disappearing views” from 15 yr olds.

So then why is everyone crazy about Snapchat. I think the truth is that when it comes to “brand sales”, the numbers rarely matter. If the brand manager believes that his/her user is more likely to be on a certain platform, then irrespective of the numbers, that brand manager develops an affinity for that platform. A lot of this belief also comes if the brand manager loves the platform. I love Snapchat. I was one of those people that wanted to advertise on them too even though the ROI would have made zero sense. But did I care? Nope.

FB is in Danger — I believe the reason FB is so interested to gobble up Snapchat is because it recognizes that more and more decision makers love Snapchat. This means that next time there is a brand campaign, brand managers may choose Snap over FB to show their ads. Instagram has seen a huge spike in it’s ad revenue for the same reason. It’s the blue-eyed boy at the moment; just like Facebook was 5 years back; just like TV was 40 years back. Basically, when it comes to branding campaigns, the medium or platform of choice is the one that may not give the best ROI, but is the one that the decision maker loves.

Tracking Brand Campaigns Sucks — Tracking branding campaigns is next to impossible. Brand uplift, FGDs, surveys, GRPs etc are so debatable that nothing is crystal clear to anyone. I have never met anyone who has said with 200% confidence that “yea, this TV ad or hoarding led to x increase in sales”. They’ll be vague and say “sales did increase” but when you ask them to state how much, they plead the 5th. This further compounds the behavior of existing brand platforms to always be under threat by new ones. FB yesterday, Snap today, Z tomo? One thing that never goes away — Google Adwords. That’s completely black and white; zero grey areas on ROI :)

Takeaway: If you are a platform, focus a lot on building the image of your platform and not on the actual numbers!