Why Snap Map Is A Very Big Deal & Will Compete Against Tinder & Yelp

On Thursday morning of May 25th, a terms of service update on Zenly, a social mapping startup app that allows users to track their friends online, went completely under the radar. Yesterday, TechCrunch reported Zenly had been acquired by Snapchat for a figure between $200–350M, in the wake of the announcement from $29bn social media giant, Snapchat, rolling out its new feature ‘Snap Map’, which allows users see friends’ photo and video posts by location, using Bitmoji — animated cartoon avatars users can personalise to depict themselves — as the markers on the map.

That small ‘terms of service’ change that went unnoticed by much of the world may have been the beginning of what I believe is going to be the most disruptive acquisition in Snapchat’s entire history.

We are now, quite literally, on the radar.

To arrive at this conclusion, you’ll have to start right back at the roots of Snapchat in 2011, when Stanford University student Reggie Brown uttered aloud a thought to his classmate that had crossed the minds of countless others, that he wanted photos he’d sent to a girl to disappear, but founder Evan Spiegel had a lightbulb moment and Snapchat was born. Snapchat has since expanded its product offerings and drifted far from its sole origin of a dating app, but I believe it’s a ground they still very much want to play on.

In March last year, Snapchat acquired Bitstrips. Bitstrips was originally a service designed to allow users to create comic strips using personalised avatars, preset templates and poses. It became Snapchat’s $62.4M dollar baby, Bitmoji — your personal lookalike cartoon character. In a time where augmented reality is quickly growing, it’s a valuable baby, but it’s about to become even more valuable. It’s about to become game-changing.

Their more recent acquisition, Zenly, is an app mainly used by teenagers (who are Snapchat’s dominative market by a long shot) around town who want to meet up locally with each other.

Zenly is the big brother to Bitmoji, providing the locations, the maps, while Bitmoji provides the virtual characters, and Snapchat, the father, provides the stories and the messaging. And together, that creates Snap Map — which could become the most innovative millennial dating platform ever seen.

Imagine you’re out with your friends one night and you want to meet up with a few girls or guys. You’d open up Snap Map, with literally ‘just a pinch’ and be able to see everyone near you, have a vague sense of what they look like, check their story to see what they’re up to, and if it’s of interest, message them and meet up.
Goodbye, Tinder Social. Hello, Snap Map.

Snapchat has a history of trialling things, and it would be naive to think that this, too, is not a trial — by no means is it the final product. Snapchat Stories begun as a trial, and since then ‘Discover’ has accounted for more than half of their annual revenue, according to data from eMarketer, due to the vast amount of advertising and partnership opportunities.

So, put yourself in Spiegel’s shoes, your main sources of revenue comes from advertising and partnership, so how can you drive more? By introducing further advertising and partnership opportunities. So you create Snap Ads, Sponsored Lenses, Local Geofilters, but you’re looking for a big win…

The first thing you do is acquire the location-based analytics and ad measurement startup Placed, a six-year-old company that helps advertisers track real-world purchases and store visits, which TechCrunch confirmed Snapchat acquired earlier this month for an undisclosed figure. This means Snapchat can measure the foot traffic tied to in-app campaigns.

Placed has built an audience of users that it can ask directly about their recent locations and store visits. It combines this with third-party data to be able to determine what percentage of a sample of an ad’s viewers actually were inspired to visit a brick-and-mortar business. It can then extrapolate to estimate the brand lift and return on investment for an ad campaign.

Snapchat now has powerful software and some very valuable information.

Then you need to create a platform for those in-app campaigns that encourage real-world purchases and store visits… Snap Map.

Imagine you’re a bar owner in Shoreditch, a hipster-centric area based in East London and it’s Happy Hour, but without enough people knowing, the volume of drinks you sell won’t make it cost-efficient. The solution?

To advertise their offer on Snap Map.

In the same way that restaurants and bars paid Pokemon to become ‘Poke Stops’ and be highlighted on the app’s local map to drive foot traffic, the bar can pay Snapchat to notify x people (and target via age, gender and even how influential they are according to how many friends they have) on Snap Map who are within a close proximity to the bar, that all drinks are half price until 8PM. The advertiser will pay for impressions, and Placed will determine how many of those impressions turned into foot traffic in order to help the advertiser determine their ROI — return on investment.

The user can even check out all stories posted within that establishment that night using the heat map to see whether it’s worth going to.

Goodbye, Yelp. Hello, Snap Map.

What do you predict for the future of Snap Map?

Rob Knowles (+t: robmknowles)