3 Ways Snapchat Is Opening Up Dark Social



“Snapchat is rapidly moving from a closed, private space to a platform where the dark and untracked is being enlightened through technology and acquisitions.”


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Dark social is the pit of private communication messaging apps for which brands have no analytics. For example, a link or brand photo could be shared on WhatsApp and the brand cannot track this engagement and thereby measure the value to the brand.

Snapchat is one of the dark social platforms that has seen significant growth over the past 12 months. One of the main reasons users are flocking to these apps is because they can be selective who they share with.

Meanwhile, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are more broadcast methods, although all of these have direct messaging, the option for private profiles and Facebook, with some effort, allows you to create groups of contacts to share with.

Snapchat is a private, closed platform and this may well be at the root of it’s popularity alongside the visual communication. However, recent announcements from Snapchat demonstrate how dark social is starting to be unlocked.

1. The Ads API

Snapchat is opening up their advertising API. The primary use case will be their 3V video ads however in the future this could extend to Lenses and Filters too. With the API, Snapchat are working with more measurement partners like Nielsen, Moat and DoubleClick to uncover data from the previously closed platform.

2. Image recognition

Secondly, Snapchat recently filed for an image recognition patent. It is thought this would allow recognition of photos users take on the platform to then map to appropriate lenses, e.g. many Snaps are of babies, so a lens could be provided by a baby brand becoming available whenever the platform recognizes this type of photo.

Since Snaps disappear, their content is currently dark. Mapping lenses to content through recognition technology would open up this hidden data as, in the example above, the brand would know how many times the lens was used.

3. Bitmoji

Snapchat’s acquisition of Bitstrips, the owner of Bitmoji, may also drive the democratization of dark social data. In fact, Bitmoji has just dethroned Pokemon Go as most downloaded app. The personalized avatar which users create are a sort of social currency – everyone wants their own emoji!

Bitmojis are shared cross platforms, opening up a cross platform view. Branded Bitmojis utilized within Snapchats messaging facilities will be trackable to a certain extent, unlocking this engagement. Creating useful relatable Bitmojis, brands will be able to enter that private one to one communication space and measure those engagements.

Snapchat is rapidly moving from a closed, private space to a platform where the dark and untracked is being enlightened through technology and acquisitions. Snapchat will be hoping to remain true to the communication principles that have driven it’s popularity whilst at the same time becoming an essential part of a brand’s toolkit.

If you want to learn how today’s leading marketers are mastering Snapchat, sign up for SMW Insider to watch full-length sessions from Social Media Week about Snapchat, dark social, mobile media, and so much more!

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