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POV: Are ads on Snapchat enough of a “Spectacle”?

Mindshare Point of View

Background:

It was reported this week that Snapchat video ads are viewed for less than three seconds on average (http://adage.com/article/digital/snapchat-video-ads-average-3-seconds-a-view/306915/). This obviously causes some concern that such a short viewing time would not be enough for brand’s content to resonate with users. The report comes after Snapchat recently rebranded as Snap Inc. and took its first steps into the hardware world introducing Spectacles - sunglasses with an integrated video camera that enables users to transfer circular video directly into the Snapchat app.

Details and Implications:

Dubbed the “Google Glass – GoPro hybrid”, Spectacles have been sold via vending machines since early November with a $130 price tag. The camera, which contains a 115-degree-angle lens intended to mimic the way humans see, enables users to record content lasting up to ten seconds in length. Also, due to the circular lens, once content is uploaded users are permitted to view different parts of the video in a horizontal or vertical format.

For Snap Inc. the foray into video recording equipment has perhaps been quite timely given the speculation surrounding Snapchat’s 150 million daily users’ actual engagement with the ads served within the app. Spectacles are a way to diversify its advertising offering and demonstrate a potential area of ad revenue growth to investors, especially as it is likely headed for an initial public offering sometime in 2017. 

For brands and advertisers, Spectacles offer the opportunity to tell a story from a first person point of view in an innovative and engaging way. If brands are able to get the tone of their content correct, brand-generated content should become less distinguishable from user-generated content. Thus enabling brands to reach the coveted young Snapchat user, who at present flicks through vertical video ads in an endless quest to watch more user-generated content. For the moment however, there is still the notable exclusion of Snapchat filters and lenses available on Spectacles. Without the ability to add any additional layers to a user’s content, it seems more likely that brands will work with influencers to produce sponsored content - at least in the early stages. Brands such as Mountain Dew and Sour Patch Kids have been among the first to produce content using Spectacles.

Comparisons between Facebook Live (launched in 2015) and Instagram Live Stories (launched just after Spectacles) have obviously been made, but arguably the first person perspective element should be enough to set Spectacles apart. And Snap Inc. will be keen to avoid Spectacles going the same way as Google Glass. However, it is important to remember that Google Glass was marketed as a practical product, which helped users with things such Google Maps. Spectacles on the contrary are presented as a more social, fun and ultimately brand friendly product – with a much more reasonable price tag!

Summary:

Spectacles have certainly made an impression on the tech world, with consumers eagerly anticipating the vending machine’s next location. If brands use Spectacles to create content that feels integral to the Snapchat environment, they could see users engaging with their content for much longer than three seconds in the future. Finally, given the precedent set by Snap Inc. through its early adoption of vertical video, it certainly begs the question - could first person perspective video become the next big thing? Not just within Snapchat, but across other social channels too?