This is the latest in Localogy’s Skate To Where the Puck is Going series. Running semi-weekly, it examines the moves and motivations of tech giants as leading indicators for where markets are moving. Check out the entire series here, and its origin here.
Two weeks ago, we examined all of the local commerce-centric items from Snap’s big Partner Summit. That included location-anchored AR, mini-apps for local commerce, and Snap Map local listings. Taken individually and in concert, this indicates Snap’s ambitions to be a player in local search and discovery.
Drilling down on Snap Maps’ local listings infusion, the social discovery tool’s 200 million users can now use it to find businesses in addition to finding friends. The idea is that the two can go hand-in-hand if planning local adventures or serendipitous meetups when friends are discovered nearby on the map.
Sort of like Apple’s forays into mapping, Snap will rely on third-party partners in various vertical areas to assemble the necessary data. So far, that includes Foursquare, TripAdvisor, Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Postmates. This is congruent with Snap’s strategy across the board to partner with data providers.
But the kicker is that Snap will also offer SMB advertising on Snap Maps on a self-serve basis. From the company:
“With millions of Places now appearing on the Map, brick and mortar stores can have their first organic presence within Snapchat. Each business will now have a ‘Place Listing’ including details such as location, website, hours and more. Snapchatters will also be able to get directions and call the location directly from Snapchat, and if the business is a restaurant, order takeout or delivery and make a reservation as dining in becomes safe.”
Under the Hood
After we initially reported the move, Snapchat is now out with more details about how the program will work, and what it will look like. Known as “Promote Local Place,” it will live within Snapchat’s Ads Manager as a new ad format that’s built to drive foot traffic. Think of it sort of like Google Maps’ promoted pins.
SMBs can find this within the Instant Create section of the Snapchat Ads Manager, where they can search for their business among the local listings (again, provided by data partners like Foursquare). SMBs can then review their pre-populated business details and make modifications, which are subject to review.
They can also provide their URL in the same workflow which will prompt the Ads Manager to automatically import images from their website. Notably — and on Brand for Snapchat — the Ads manager will then automatically format images for vertical viewing, and apply several design templates to choose from.
Once the ad creative is established, SMBs select targeting parameters such as the radius of users they want to reach. As offered on other low-friction ad creation tools like Facebook, audience size and other attributes will explicitly adjust as targeting options are toggled. duration can then be set before publishing the campaign.
Snap will then push the ad to nearby Snap Map users that fit the targeting parameters. They’ll also surface the listing on map itself, search results and location tags in Stories. From the user perspective, they can swipe up on the listing to be taken to the detailed view that was created during the above self-serve workflow.
Will it Work?
Panning back, there are a few pros and cons here. The pros involve the simple and automated campaign creation process. This is always a plus for SMB advertising, and Snap is the king of minimalist workflows. It also offers an engaged millennial and Gen-Z audience, which may be attractive to certain local advertisers.
As for the cons, it’s yet to be seen if Snapchat’s user base is interested in using it for local search with real commerce and offline transactional intent. I’ve been saying the same thing about Facebook (e.g. Graph Search) for years. It’s also uncertain if the functionality and UX are on par with standards like Google Maps.
Speaking of uncertain, the jury is out on whether SMBs will bite: Like every tech company that gazes at local’s long tail SMB opportunity, there could be a looming reality check for longstanding challenges of how they buy (or don’t buy) advertising on a DIY basis. Niantic is in the same boat with its recent SMB self-serve ad play.
Meanwhile, Snap’s reliance on third-party data signals a potential opportunity for local data and listings players. The self-serve orientation likewise signals an opportunity for local media resellers or agencies who can bundle Snap local advertising with their current offerings and help get unsavvy SMBs onboarded.
We’ll keep watching closely to answer some of the above questions.