Why Did Snapchat Takeover Times Square Without Geofilters?

The Digital Out-of-Home placement is a demonstration of Snapchat’s brand strength. No Geofilters needed.

Even by the gargantuan standards of most of the out-of-home ads in Times Square, Snapchat’s digital ad takeover of the entire lower portion of a building at the southeast corner of southeast corner of 7th Avenue and 42nd St. is a major attention-getter.

The digital billboard, operated by OOH agency OUTFRONT Media, follows several other billboard campaigns the app-based messaging platform has used in several cities since last spring.

But Snapchat’s Times Square billboard is different and represents the social messaging and image-sharing app’s rising importance to consumers and marketers.

“While the simple, bold visuals of Snapchat’s Times Square display are striking, it immediately gets you thinking about what might come next in terms of supporting Geofilters, camera effects, and other location-specific features that turn Snapchat users into the star of their own Times Square billboard or other OOH installations,” said Yext CMO Jeff Rohrs, who noticed the placement on Monday night. “Those real-world interactions not only create ‘I was here’ social media moments but also ‘I want to be there’ energy in those who see their friends in such moments.” [Full disclosure: Yext is GeoMarketing’s parent company. More details here.]

Why Did Snapchat Takeover Times Square Without Geofilters?Snapchat Explores Outdoors

In October, Venice, CA-based Snapchat began featuring its logo, “Ghostface Chillah” (inspired by Wu-Tang Clan’s Ghostface Killah) on buildings and roadsides in places like Seattle, Phoenix, San Francisco, Boston, Geekwire reported.

Last month, Business Insider noticed that Snapchat employed a minimalist outdoor effort that avoided any overt brand message or logo when promoting its Geofilters. The company’s Geofilters, which were unveiled almost two years ago, allow users to add a “dynamic” illustration highlighting the location from which the image is being shared. The company began offering custom Geofilters to sponsors in February and the recent billboard campaign was intended to highlight the creative ways marketers and users can “own” the creativity of specific areas.

Snapchat On Broadway — Without Location Overlay

Interestingly, the Times Square digital OOH buy didn’t make use of one of Snapchat’s Geofilters.

Although Snapchat representatives declined to comment for this story, it’s pretty clear that the company had a very good reason to skip the Geofilter for the Times Square Snapchat ad: they had a very different audience in mind for this spot.

Snapchat’s previous OOH output was aimed at its primary user-base, who tend to be the tech savvy 18-24 year olds who make up 37 percent of the platform’s audience.

But the Times Square placement is clearly aimed at passersby who may not use Snapchat, but, nevertheless, have to be curious by now about the platform’s rising popularity.

After all, a number of media companies such as Viacom, Condé Nast, and The New York Times, as well as financial and banking firms Morgan Stanley, BMO Capital Markets, Barclays, and Nasdaq, are in the Times Square area: the digital OOH in Times Square are mostly aimed at executives from those companies.

Snapchat YellowAt The Crossroads Of The World

Four-year-old Snapchat has steadily been making inroads with big brands for the last two years. Its relatively fast rise in marketers’ it competing more directly with the marketing structures built by Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter have built.

In that sense, Snapchat’s Times Square promotional debut has the company at a crossroads: having established its credibility with younger consumers, it needs to show older consumers and traditional marketing executives that it’s platform is ready for the big time.

“Snapchat is one of the world’s most exciting, innovative companies and their choice to advertise in the prime location of Times Square is a strategic opportunity to demonstrate the strength of their brand,” Jodi Senese, EVP/CMO for OUTFRONT Media, told GeoMarketing. “This activation exemplifies the power of digital billboards to bring a brand to life, generate broad awareness and captivate consumers. At OUTFRONT Media, we believe this is the future of advertising — creating digital experiences that earn people’s attention.”

So is there anything tangible that Snapchat can expect from an ad that surely worth at least a million dollars?

“We can’t comment on the cost of the ad, but will say there’s incredible brand value in taking over one of the world’s most iconic, high-traffic locations,” Senese said. “OUTFRONT is proud to partner with Snapchat and other fast-growth companies to provide a unique way to drive huge impact for their business.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.