Geo 101: What Do Marketers Need To Know About Snap Map?

It's not just for helping teens find out where their friends really are: In the near future, Snapchat's Snap Map will likely help brands to target users based on real-world visits.

From geo-targeting to voice search, technology is opening up a world of possibilities for marketers. But it’s also complicated, as new capabilities and use cases seem to emerge every day.

With the goal of breaking down some of the most important concepts to provide a better understanding of the basics — and a jumping off point for exploring how far the power of location may take us — we introduce the next installment of our GeoMarketing 101 series: understanding Snapchat’s Snap Map.

What Is Snap Map?

For those who might have missed the news: Snap Map simply refers to a feature launched by Snapchat in June that allows users of the platform to see where their friends are on a map of the world. It also displays crowd-sourced images and videos shared from specific locations on the map, like a music festival in California or a soccer match in Argentina. (To use and view Snap Map, app users simply pinch to zoom out from the Snapchat “camera.”)

Why does this matter? Well, apart from a series of stories about teens catching their friends in white lies about their real-time location (and yes, you can turn the feature off), the launch of Snap Map — and the acquisitions that play a role in powering it — show that Snapchat is “putting together the building blocks for a powerful location-ad business,” as Oppenheimer analyst Jason Helfstein reportedly wrote in a note to clients.

Powered by Mapbox, OpenStreetMaps, and DigitalGlobe, Snap Map is billed as a living, breathing location tool designed to inspire users to take action, as GeoMarketing‘s David Kaplan wrote at the time of the launch. The company’s acquisition of Zenly also speaks to Snapchat’s potential for real-time, real-world influence.

“[Snapchat] did something with maps that is unique: they built a map that allowed users to engage with information, images and people interactively and in real-time,” said Mapbox’s Marc Prioleau. “People are using the map to check out videos of what’s happening in their neighborhood, a vacation destination or see what’s happening in an exotic place across the globe.

“Engagement is the lifeblood of any mobile-first application. It brings in new users, it keeps them ‘active’ longer and allows advertisers to develop better context and profiles. That directly translates into new advertising models and ultimately better ARPU. It’s part of a trend we are seeing: companies using their unique location data assets to drive new revenue models, whether in social media, logistics, business intelligence or any other mobile-based market.”

Essentially, Snapchat is now doing more with users’ location data than simply offering location-specific geofilters — and marketers looking to drive foot traffic by targeting users at certain times and in certain mapped locations should pay attention.

Why Does This Matter For Marketers?

For marketers, Snap Map could potentially represent an increased opportunity for brands to advertise to users based on where they are in the real-world. Users are already accustomed to sharing their location with Snapchat in order to access location-specific geofilters, and Snap Map — for those who have chosen to opt-in — can essentially function as a means of making location-specific content more visible and easily accessible.

“In the long term, we see an online-to-offline advertising ecosystem emerging that SNAP can use to advertise through the transaction lifecycle: 1) building brand awareness and 2) driving store traffic,” Helfstein also wrote in his note to clients, as reported by Business Insider.

Snap Map isn’t a marketing platform — yet. But with Snap Inc.’s increased investment in location-based advertising — indicated by the purchase of attribution specialist Placed — the potential is certainly there, and Snap Map allowing brands to advertise to users based on real locations they have visited could be just around the corner.

As such, marketers of all strips who may already have an interest in Snapchat’s youthful user base and its location-specific features should certainly pay attention.

Read more about Snapchat and its location-ad ambitions:

Acquisition Of Zenly, Launch Of Snap Map Highlight Snapchat’s Real-World, Real-Time Influence

What Snap’s Acquisition of Placed Says About The Value Of Location Tech

Snap Adds GroundTruth As Latest Location Ad Partner For Geofilters, Snapchat Ads

About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.