(Costa Mesa, CA) -- Since April of 2017, I've been testing Snapchat Geofilters over fairs across the country. Some times I'm at the fair, some times I'm not. The purpose has been to collect data and learn how the advertising product actually works.
But Snapchat Is Dead.
Before I dive into the details, let me address this stuffed gorilla. Why stuffed? Because unlike a real 800lb gorilla, this one has no teeth.
In terms of Snap's stock valuation, yes, they're in trouble. Mark Zuckerberg went gangster on Snap CEO Evan Spiegal, and stole Snapchat's biggest feature, the "Story," right before Snap's IPO. This caused chaos in the world of Wall Street because people did not know whether Snapchat could withstand a direct assault from Facebook. In the long run, they may not be able to.
But here's what you need to know about that. Journalists who write headlines like, "Death knell for Snapchat," don't get to decide whether Snapchat is dead.
You do. I do. The market decides.
Right now, Snapchat is becoming more aggressive in delivering new features to attract, reacquire and maintain their user base. There are still 166 million active users and growing on Snapchat (Source: Statista https://www.statista.com/statistics/545967/snapchat-app-dau/). That's what needs to matter to marketers. The stock price may be fluctuating. But the attention is still there.
So what if in 6 months or 18 months the attention is gone and Snapchat is no more? None of you should care. The only thing that matters is where the attention goes if and when that happens.
The 100k View Snapchat Geofilter
I've tested several dozen geofilters throughout the United States during the 2nd and 3rd quarter of 2017. As I said before this gave me excellent data on nights to use them, what they should have on them and which filter designs people convert on.
"It is not necessary to have a filter on 24/7, or even every hour that you're open. Pick your times to maximize the attention arbitrage."
I deployed a geofilter over the OC Fair on Friday, July 21st. I paid for this myself as I wanted to have a filter while my company did the IAFE Instagram & Snapchat takeover.
Here's the basic data on the filter.
Coverage was 915,583 sq ft.
Run time was 5 hours, Friday night, 7/21, from 5pm - 10pm PDT.
The filter contained the fair theme, logo and dates.
Total cost was $91.02.
Total views earned: 102,500 generating an .88 cent CPM.
I estimate the geofenced area at about 65% of the usable space on the fair grounds. As I paid for this myself, for the IAFE take over, I didn't see it necessary to utilize 100% of the grounds.
The time chosen is a peak time at fairs across America. It is not necessary to have a filter on 24/7, or even every hour that you're open. Pick your times to maximize the attention arbitrage.
The success of a filter can come down to the design. I see brands make things too complicated. It's just not necessary. Your customers photos and videos are the start of the show and they want to let people know where they are. Make your design fun and to the point and absolutely include the dates of your event. Why the dates? Because a Snapchat filter is essentially a billboard that everyone of your guests friends actually look at when swiping through the story feed.
Including your event dates can help drive traffic on subsequent days of the fair. Why? Let's say Katie is sitting at home on the first Saturday night of the fair binge watching Game of Thrones. She's swiping through her Snap stories and see's a few of her friends went to the fair. In their Snap they're eating funnel cake. Katie loves funnel cake. Because Snapchat is also a messaging app, she swipes up and sends her friends a message, "Hey are you going back next week? I want to go too."
See? Attention arbitrage. How many customers do you have that drive down the street, see a billboard and instantly call their friends and say they want to go to the fair? Zero.
This is my most successful geofilter run ever. But a few caveats to think about. First, a Friday night at the OC Fair in Costa Mesa, CA has massive attendance. I mean, they get more on a Friday night than some fairs get in a weekend.
Second, it's reasonable to believe that the average number of friends someone has on Snapchat is different in the Los Angeles metro area than in rural America. But that doesn't mean it's less valuable to your fair. In fact, it's highly likely that for smaller areas across the country, your filter will cost even less. On the flip side, good luck trying to get a filter at the San Diego County Fair. I looked into the cost at that particular fair and it started at something like $700/hr for a super small area of coverage.
102,500 Views Later
This filter was used 1,800+ times which resulted in 102,500 views, or an .88 cent cost-per-thousand views (CPM). There is no billboard or banner ad in America that will generate that low a CPM.
Some things to keep in mind. It did not cover the entirety of the fair and there was no advertising for it at the fair. The 1,800 uses were by people who randomly discovered it was there. Can you imagine if a fair had ticket takers thanking people and mentioning the filter was in effect from 5-10pm? Or if there were signs scattered around the grounds announcing it? What if I'd covered 100% of the grounds and ran from 5pm-11pm? That number could've hit 250,000 very quickly.
One other issue that my filter had to over come? Mine wasn't the only one on Snapchat that night. When people swiped to the filters on Snap, there were 4 or 5 different community filters, a Snapchat generated filter, plus a sponsored filter by RCS that night. Patrons had to swipe past all of them to find mine. Smaller fairs with a less crowded filter feed will see higher conversion rates.
Should You Use Snapchat? Yes.
The resistance to many fairs utilizing Snapchat and social media in general is just that they don't get it. And they don't get it because they're not practitioners. They don't understand Snap. They don't understand what it means to swipe right or left. They don't know what stories are or filters or lenses.
We are living through the biggest communication shift in the history of mankind. Yet we still have fairs and brands across the country that want to market like it's 1997. Where you just said, "Hey we're having a fair," and people would show up.
People's lives are insanely fast now. The attention has also moved away from print and television to a digital world.
The fairs and brands that figure out how to story tell on these platforms will reap the long term benefits. Those that don't may find themselves sitting on the sidelines of life right next to Ringling Bros.