By Tanya Dua
- A large number of brands have been using Snapcodes, Snapchat’s own version of QR codes, to elevate their marketing campaigns.
- Snapcodes are potentially huge: Users are already scanning over 8 million codes a day. They help brands connect traditional and digital advertising and also gives them access to data.
- But additional production costs and lack of clarity in how they drive results are its downsides, say marketers.
Turns out that everyday objects like cans, bottles and cardboard cups can serve as the perfect gateways to Snapchat. Just ask Gatorade, Wendy’s and Evian.
These are just a few among a growing roster of brands that hopped on the Snapcode bandwagon this past summer, using Snapchat’s own version of QR codes to elevate their marketing campaigns on the platform to another level.
By plastering Snapcodes onto product packaging, print and even out-of-home ads, these brands have been able to encourage people to use their smartphones to unlock exclusive branded filters, lenses, custom websites and even Snapchat-specific mobile games.
Evian, for example, printed Snapcodes on over 300 million bottle across six countries, which opened up to exclusive branded content, including filters and lenses on the platform. Wendy’s, on the other hand put the codes on its drink cups, donating $5 to a foster care foundation every time someone scanned the code to unlock a custom Snapchat filter.
“Snapchat fits into our overall marketing mix and aligns well with our brand personality because it’s a fun, interactive platform,” Jimmy Bennett, Wendy’s head of media, told Business Insider. “And Snapcodes are unique as they seamlessly connect social and real world experiences.”
Rise of Snapcodes
While Snapcodes have been around since 2015, for a long time they were mostly used by people to add friends on the app using their smartphone cameras. Only recently have they emerged as a powerful weapon in a brand’s Snapchat marketing arsenal.
It’s not hard to see why.
The benefits of Snapcodes are potentially huge: The company says users are already scanning over 8 million codes a day, making for a sizeable audience that brands can target. If brands can give people a fun way to use the Snapchat camera in the real world through branded filters and lenses, they are likely to spread that content to more of their friends.
Evian’s “Live Young” campaign, for example, saw over 2 million unique Snapchatters interact with its lenses and over 3 million play around with its filters.
Unlike filters, lenses or video Snap Ads, Snapcodes are not actual ad products. In fact, they are free, and Snapchat says it doesn’t charge advertisers extra for them.
Anyone can create a Snapcode that unlocks an external website from within Snapchat (what the company calls a “web view”), without anyone at Snapchat helping them. And if they want to have a Snapcode link to their filter or lens campaign, Snapchat can create that for any brand for free.
So in other words, Snapcodes basically enable advertisers to reach more consumers and ideally amplify their paid Snapchat ad campaigns investments by tapping into existing behaviors.
“Snapcodes made for an easy, shareable way to raise awareness and do some good at the same time,” said Wendy’s Bennett. “Plus, our customers use Snapchat regularly and have a habit of sharing pictures and selfies, so featuring a code on cups was an ideal way to get participation while in restaurants.”
Plus, marketers can connect their Snapchat campaigns — which typically live within the app itself — to the real world. Plenty of brands have attempted this, from Lancôme, which ran a Snapcode in the magazine Allure, to fast food chain Jack in the Box, which printed out Snapcodes on its receipts.
Snapcodes “enable brands to extend their Snapchat campaigns across TV, out-of-home or guerilla marketing initiatives, enabling a campaign to have more integration with traditional media,” said Sherwin Su, director of social at digital agency Essence.
But perhaps the most compelling advantage of Snapcodes is that they give brands an opportunity to collect data on some of their biggest customers on Snapchat — an app that has long been slammed for its lack of data to track return on ad spend compared to some of its competitors. Only the most engaged of fans, after all, would put in the effort to unlock exclusive content offered by brands.
Gatorade, for instance, wanted to reach and inspire its core consumer base of young competitive athletes by providing them tools for athletic inspiration and utility, like training videos. It decided t0 tap into Snapcodes to give its fans access to exclusive branded content, also also ended up accomplishing a key business goal along the way.
That’s because users who wanted access to the brand’s content featuring pro athletes Karl Anthony Towns and JJ Watts were prompted to add their names and email addresses to unlock it. Now, Gatorade has a list of between 75,000 and 100,000 highly engaged fans that it can re target moving forward.
“Our intent with the activation was to gather first-party data on young athletes and consumers, and we achieved that,” Kenny Mitchell, Gatorade’s head of consumer engagement, told Business Insider. “Snapcodes provide a real frictionless way for consumers to engage with us and our content in a place where they already are from a mobile perspective.”
Not for everyone
While Snapcodes may serve as the perfect additions to large scale Snapchat campaigns, they aren’t necessarily made for all brands.
For one, Snapchat may let advertisers incorporate Snapcodes in a marketing campaign for no additional cost, but developing and deploying Snapcodes across traditional media placements still requires extra creative and production costs and resources, said Essence’s Su. As a result, only brands with deep pockets and broader deals may be able to afford them.
Gatorade’s parent company PepsiCo, for instance, has been a longstanding partner of Snapchat’s and has a broader deal with the company encompassing all the brands in its portfolio. Pepsi has regularly invested in Snapchat, and is often one of the first brands to test out new formats. It was one of the first brands to test sponsored geofilters with Crystal Pepsi, for example, and also one of the first to launch a video game ad tied to the U.S. Open inside of ESPN’s Discover channel.
Further, marketers are still not sure how exactly to track return on their investments as far as Snapcodes are concerned.
“We have yet to understand how the exposure or usage of the Snapcode drives scalable and incremental business outcomes, compared to a standard Snap campaign from a measurement standpoint,” said Essence’s Shu.