International Women’s Day and South by Southwest have dominated the past few weeks’ social conversation, but how about that Snap IPO?
Snap goes public, and the public says, “Yes, please.”
The long-awaited Snap IPO jumped into the market last Thursday at a healthy $17/share, rising to nearly $25 by day’s end. The camera app’s employees ended the day several commas better off, and the big banks didn’t make out too badly either. As hoped, the IPO attracted a wave of young investors, many of whom were new to the market. There seems to be general confidence in the app’s monetization potential, regardless of its lack of performance-based advertisers in comparison to Google and Facebook. But a week can feel like an eternity in the stock market, and after hitting a high of $27/share last Friday, Snap stock has been steadily dropping. Hopefully all those new investors won’t see their stock disappear as fast as a Snapchat message.
Why do we care?
Snap has been teasing the prospect of teeing up its uniquely young user base for salivating brands for a while now. And this new infusion of capital should give them the latitude to bring to market some of their new product ideas that may have been languishing in R & D (drones, anyone?), allowing them to expand their already massive reach. And if you’re worried about their shareholders objecting, that doesn’t seem to be much of an issue. Now, if someone can just figure out a way to get the kids to pay attention.
The decline of South by Southwestern civilization?
Digiday reports that many brands scaled down their marketing ploys at SXSW this year. The article cites Spotify, Fader and Capital One as examples of SXSW stand-bys who substantially decreased their presence for this year’s festival. Is this a trend? Are the days of the mad influx of marketing dollars at the world’s best-known one-size-fits-all technology/education/music/film/etc. festival finally over? Are former festival-goers opting out this year? Has SXSW finally jumped the shark? Our feet-on-the-ground media reporter at Springbox doubts it. If anything, there seemed to be more people than ever wandering the streets and alleyways surrounding my house. And when a four-block walk to the coffee shop takes you past HBO’s Game of Thrones escape room, a full-scale pop-up location of Los Pollos Hermanos from AMC, a launch party for the new Austin location of Susan Sarandon’s Spin ping-pong empire and a passel of Green-Man-style, full-lycra-body-suited brand evangelists threading the crowd and dishing out swag, it can be argued that marketing at SXSW is alive and well, or at least alive and unavoidable.
Why do we care?
While big brands may have ditched big spectacle at SXSW this year, many favored more carefully curated, interactive experiences. The upshot is, brand presence may not have been diminished so much as it was more diffuse. The quest to connect with millennials, who are more connected in more diverse ways than any previous generation, seems to be encouraging brands to explore ever-innovative strategies to catch their attention. And whether or not it’s working, rest assured that, just as in SXSWs past, young people were streaming through the streets of Austin en masse, looking for the next new thing.
Maybe all those bots aren’t so great after all.
Facebook’s move to make Messenger the premier messaging app by integrating chatbots may have launched to great excitement, but it seems the bloom has come off the rose. The social network is doing some rethinking as bots have hit a 70% failure rate. Brands seem to be moving away from the new tech, which has disappointed in its ability to interact with colloquialisms that users often employ.
Why do we care?
Bots may have arrived, but it turns out they’re not the individualized user experience panacea that brands were hoping for. It’s natural to expect a bit of reassessment and tinkering, given the tech community’s “fail to success” model, but while we wait for chatbots that can actually, you know, chat, we can always relive the yesteryears of chat with the new Oregon Trail for IOS.
YOUR WEEKLY PLATFORM UPDATES
TWITTER SHOWS ITS SENSITIVE SIDE
Apparently, Twitter has taken its “sensitive material” flagging to the account level, and account holders who have been flagged may not even know about it. This is only the latest move in Twitter’s continuing struggle not to be known primarily as a trolling platform. Now sensitive users won’t have to encounter “sensitive” content unless they actively opt in. The practice is still in the trial stages, but suffice to say we’ll probably see a lot more experiments like this one from Twitter in the months to come.
AND THEY’D BETTER THINK OF SOMETHING FAST
The megaphone of the terse (as Twitter is universally known) has shown negative revenue growth for ten straight quarters, and investors are taking notice, with shares recently dropping 11%. Many brands are moving away from emphasizing the platform in their marketing budgets, but Twitter is reacting with resolve. They continue to simplify the app, and COO Anthony Noto points to live video as the platform’s saving grace. In an age of feature mania, it remains to be seen if Twitter’s strategy of doubling down on their unique value proposition will be effective enough to spark continued user growth.
INSTANT STORIES GETTING MORE ADS
There hasn’t been a lot of upside to Facebook’s Instant Stories feature for publishers. The stories keep the user on site instead of linking off to publishers’ sites, and they don’t offer much support for ads — until now. Now ads can appear every 250 words instead of every 350. Let the ad-apalooza begin!
SNAP GETS RID OF THE (CRACKLE AND) POP-UP FOR SPECTACLES
No more thronging to a hastily assembled kiosk, hoping to score some of its ephemeral supply. Now you can get Snap Spectacles the same place you get everything else — online. All you need is $130 and a shipping address, and soon you’ll be able to make videos like this, just like the Springbox team. And now that the wearable cameras aren’t such diamonds in the rough, you and your friends can all get them and start having video chats in person.
JUMP ONTO THE CAROUSEL: PHOTO ALBUMS COME TO INSTAGRAM
Now users can upload up to 10 photos to each post, which can be swiped through in a carousel. The update may make for a more visually crowded feed, but it does offer advertisers the advantage of being able to add more images to their ad carousels. And if that’s not enough clutter for you, well, now you can add Geostickers to your photos, too.
PINTEREST AND BIZ STONE GO TOGETHER LIKE PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY
When Biz Stone left Twitter, he launched the human-assisted search app Jelly. But the world apparently wasn’t ready for (or interested in) a standalone human-powered search tool. Enter Pinterest. The platform was interested enough not only to acquire the app but its founder as well, installing Stone as a special advisor to Evan Sharp. With so much user-curated content already, the move to having search augmented by a human touch makes perfect sense for Pinterest. And Stone now knows that even his flops can turn into tech gold.
MICROSOFT HAD A SOCIAL NETWORK BUT NOW IT DOESN’T
Hearts are breaking throughout cyberspace at news of the demise of Socl, which is actually a thing that existed. That’s pretty much the whole story. Socl came and went, not with a bang, not with a whimper, not with...really not with any discernible audible impact whatsoever. But it did come, and it did go. So let’s all have a brief moment of mourning — okay, that’s enough. Now back to Oregon Trail!
WHO’S DOING COOL STUFF?
BETC SAO PAULO
Ever wonder how often men interrupt women? Well, as the saying goes, now there’s an app for that. In honor of International Women’s Day, agency BETC Sao Paulo dropped an app that highlights, via your phone’s microphone, the frequency with which men commandeer the conversation from women. The app, called Woman Interrupted, was launched with an incredibly depressing video and a poster campaign designed by women from around the world. If you’re itching to know just how insufferable and rude your male coworkers and friends are (I mean, you already know, but now you can prove it), all you have to do is visit the Apple app store.
STATE STREET GLOBAL ADVISORS
In another bold International Women’s Day statement, financial firm State Street Global Advisors made a striking addition to the famous Wall Street charging bull statue — a statue of a defiant girl standing in its way. The piece appeared without warning on the morning of International Women’s Day, and the stunt was executed by McCann New York. State Street claims that the installation emphasizes the importance of empowering women in leadership. News of the sculpture, titled “The Fearless Girl,” quickly went viral, with thousands of people petitioning the city to let it stand. Response has been overwhelmingly positive, though a few detractors point out that State Street could do a better job of representing women in its own leadership ranks. That said, “The Fearless Girl” is an example of advertising that resonates beyond the scope of its brand messaging, and the sense of empowerment people are feeling in response to it is something we could all use right now.
Oh, HBO. What’s the matter? You couldn’t find any paint for people to watch dry? In a publicity stunt inversely proportional in excitement to the action-packed show itself, HBO announced the release date for Season 7 of Game of Thrones by streaming a live feed that literally consisted of ice melting. Except that it didn’t. Encouraged to type “Fire” in the comments to speed the melting process, 162,000 users stuck with the stunt, even when it became apparent that it would take over an hour to reveal the date. The live stream was interrupted twice, and for the final stream, jets of flame had to be shot at the block of ice to get it to melt. Let’s hope Season 7 (which incidentally premieres 7/16) doesn’t proceed at such a glacial pace.