Snap Learns It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who; Partners with Amazon / by Jon Penn

Every Friday, we cut through the noise to keep you at the forefront of what’s happening now. Here are the most important stories to break this week in social-first marketing, advertising and tech…

Snapchat partners with Amazon to bring shopping to its 300 million+ users

Snapchat has learned it has to make a few important friends if it hopes to last much longer in the fight against Facebook. One big player who seems happy to help in this mission is Amazon, as this week it was reported that new code reveals Snapchat could soon offer its users the chance to shop Amazon products with a visual search tool.

Users will point their camera at a product or barcode and, from this image, be able to search for similar items on Amazon, then proceed to pay within the app. The new tool is rumoured to be called ‘Eagle’. The code description notes read: “Press and hold to identify an object, song, barcode, and more! This works by sending data to Amazon, Shazam, and other partners.”

It’s no lie that Snapchat has had a rough year, in constant competition from Instagram and Facebook – and experiencing declines in its revenue as a result. But could Eagle be the key to turning things around? An affiliate deal with a company of Amazon’s scale could be extremely lucrative but only time will tell if this feature, currently hidden in code, comes to fruition.

Instagram adds Q&A stickers and opens Collection Ads up to all

Instagram users can now start conversations in Stories using a newly launched Q&A sticker which has been in testing for a while. Once users have asked a question using the sticker, they then can add the answer to another image inside Stories. Early responses to the feature have been pouring in, but many are worried that it could fuel cyberbullying like its similar predecessor, Ask Me Anything.

In another addition, this week Instagram expanded its ad offerings to yet more advertisers, opening up its popular Collection ad unit to everyone. The app says that all e-commerce-based accounts will be able to add the Shopping Bag icon to their Stories – great news for brands on the platform!

Instagram’s Collection ads, now available globally, include a carousel format, which lets users browse various products at a time within the main feed, without leaving the app. The media used within the carousel ad can link to a website or product page to drive purchases.

“We’ve been testing this solution with brands such as Netshoes, which saw a 6.3% lift in conversions and 42% lower conversion cost when using Collection [ads] compared with other ad formats,” writes Facebook on its business blog.

Twitter tests promoted Trend Spotlight ads in Explore tab

Twitter, not exactly known for its sophisticated ads service and ability to effectively monetise, is finally learning how to make the most out of its best products. Trending topics is a staple of the platform, and after having to minimise the exposure of Moments by concealing it within the Explore tab, Twitter is now testing promoted Trend Spotlight ads which will sit in a banner at the top of Explore. For the first two times users visit Explore in one day, they will be greeted with this GIF or image banner, before settling back into the Trends list. Reportedly the first brand using this new ad spot will be Disney, in the US.

“We are continuing to explore new ways to enhance our takeover offerings and give brands more high-impact opportunities to drive conversation and brand awareness on our platform,” a Twitter spokesperson said.

On the downside, the new ad offering will demote organic content in Explore, which runs the risk of hindering the practicality of the much-loved feature. On the upside, this could earn Twitter some much needed strong revenue, by offering advertisers a much more dynamic and eye-catching spot than the promoted tweets which currently interrupt the main timeline – and which people often simply scroll past.

Twitter, whose revenue beat estimations in Q1 with $665 million, has a share price of about $44 (near its 52-week high). With the shift to an algorithmic Timeline and bigger focus on video, Twitter has slowly been able to make a miraculous comeback from last year, when critics and fans alike were declaring the platform ‘dead’. Now, with new imagery at the top of Explore, followed by Trends, attention can be drawn to where these new Spotlight ads sit. And with effective monetisation, this new product could be the next stage to bring Twitter one step closer to safety.

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