Among the many interlinking pieces at Snap, mapping is an ongoing initiative. The thought is that social interaction is tied to the real world to a large degree. So if Snap can add layers of social relevance based on where you are (opted-in of course), it can deepen user connections and engagement.
This was partly behind Snap’s 2017 acquisition of Placed, which it subsequently divested for other reasons. And its since shown ample intent to carry the social mapping baton farther. Among other signals, Snap’s Alex Dao told us as much during Localogy 20/20, with Snap Map being the central focus.
As background, Snap Map geo-tags users and their Snaps on a map interface. According to Dao, 200 million Snapchatters are out and about using Snap Map to find each other. This also becomes an organic place for SMB promotion, which Snap has rolled out and continues to develop (more on that in a bit).
The latest signal for Snap’s social mapping ambitions came this week with the acquisition of location data platform StreetCred. Mostly an acqui-hire, the deal will bring four members of StreetCred team to Snap, where they’ll work on strengthening the geo-data backbone of Snap Map and other location-related initiatives.
This should have an impact, given the mapping chops involved. Co-founder Randy Meech was formerly CEO of Mapzen, a Samsung-owned open mapping startup. StreetCred’s other co-founder Diana Shkolnikov also worked at Mapzen as engineering director. StreetCred itself will be shut down following the deal.
StreetCred’s approach is to “open up and decentralize” location data using a blockchain-based marketplace that incentivizes users to collect mapping data. This crowdsourced approach is increasingly popular as companies like Niantic empowers its users to gather 3D spatial maps while playing Pokémon Go.
This fits the profile for Snapchat as well. As Alex Dao told us, its Gen-Z-heavy user base is highly active, engaged and mobile. They also have $323 billion in direct purchasing power and $1.2 trillion in indirect purchasing power. This will only grow as they phase into the adult consumer population.
That brings us back to monetization and SMB promotion. Snapchat last year launched a new program that lets SMBs buy map-based promotions on Snap Map in a self-serve manner. Known as Promote Local Place it lets SMBs create promoted listings to drive foot traffic from Snap Map users.
Beyond unique access to all those buying-empowered Gen-Z users, Dao emphasizes the organic “discoverability” that the platform offers SMBs, given the migratory user habits noted earlier. There’s also easy onboarding and ad creation — an approach that’s made Facebook ads so popular among SMBs.
On that note, Snap brings its signature minimalist workflow to the ad creation process, making it an SMB-friendly ad tool. Though this is a common rallying cry in the world of SMB marketing, vendors achieve the right level of dead-simple ad creation with surprisingly-rare frequency.
Panning back, Snap continues to inch closer to local commerce. Historic steps include geo-filters, and more recent moves include Local Lenses and Snap Map listings. Those features are notable on their own but get more interesting when considering the SMB promotional implications that come with them.