Snapchat continues to signal interest and investment in being a socially-fueled local discovery engine. This goes back to it’s early work in Geo-Filters, Snap Map, Local Place Promote, and Local Lenses. The thought is that social activity can be a trigger for local behavior like meeting friends for a drink.
Snap’s latest move is this week’s My Places launch. A feature of Snap Map, it brings more structure to an existing local discovery use case by positioning 30 million SMBs with more formal interactivity in the mapping UX. For example, 250 million Snap Map users can tag, share and check into favorite local spots.
The timing could be right, as the world returns to meat-space activity (albeit touch & go lately). Looking further into a post-Covid world, Snap wants to compete with Google Maps as a local search and discovery engine. And it could have an edge given a Gen-Z heavy audience, and a social layer for local interactions.
Going deeper on My Places, it offers users three tabs that categorize their favorite local spots — Visited, Favorites and Popular. “Visited” lists places you’ve checked into; “Favorites” lets users manually designate the places they like best. “Popular” is more of a discovery engine in that it algorithmically suggests new places.
The last of the three is potentially most interesting, as it further differentiates Snap Map from Google Maps. The signals it uses to make intelligent recommendations include a user’s current location, past check-ins or “favorited” spots, and how all these signals flow from one’s friends’ on Snapchat.
My Places also follows Snapchat’s May Layers launch. This adds an organizational framework to the Snap Map that lets users toggle between thematically grouped events and entities. For example, an “entertainment” layer unearths data from its partner, Ticketmaster. More layers will develop around food, fun, etc.
MyPlaces also notably has implications for, and alignemnt with, Snap’s Local Place promote. This is Snap Map’s monetization engine that lets SMBs pay to have greater exposure within the Snap Map UX. As we examined when it launched, it offers expanded business profiles and targeted mapvertising.
My Places could amplify Local Place Promote by driving more user engagement in Snap Map that causes SMBs to see it as a strong source of foot traffic. Structured data from My Places could also flow into Local Place Promote, meaning content for businesses profiles, or the chance to interact directly with users.
As further speculation, My Places also has potential integrations with one of Snap’s biggest product targets: AR. The technology continues to drive Snap’s revenue growth through lenses and visual search (Snap Scan). So it’s doubling down on AR and integrating it in several places, including geolocal products.
For example, its Local Lenses are the geo-relevant flavor of its signature selfie lenses. In this case, it utilizes the rear-facing camera to augment the broader canvas of the physical world. That thinking leads to a larger addressable market of lens-based advertisers, beyond products that can go on one’s face
Local Lenses could align with My Places in that the latter’s SMB places database could serve as a geo-relevant UX component for the former. In other words, local businesses can be identified and annotated similar to Local Lenses’ more whimsical use cases, such as creating and discovering virtual street art.
Much of this is admittedly speculation in connecting the dots around Snap’s orbiting geo-local products and ambitions. We’ll watch closely as it plays out