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McDonald?s gains organic edge on Snapchat with geofiltering stickers

McDonald?s is sponsoring Snapchat's geofiltering stickers in a move that could fuel consumers to send more photos from the chain's restaurants and create sponsored content that appears non-promotional to recipients. 

The food and beverage marketer will encourage customers visiting any of its locations in the United States to snap photos of their food or themselves and decorate the images with an illustration of a cheeseburger and large bag of fries, among other stickers. McDonald?s decision to pay Snapchat to provide geofiltering stickers suggests that other brands, especially those in retail or food sectors, may soon follow in its footsteps and attempt to turn photos or posts sent from stores and restaurants in marketing vehicles.

?Snapchat's geofilter stickers offer great potential to brands and their mobile marketing strategies,? said Melissa Greenberg, managing director at Fetch, New York. ?Thanks to Snapchat's geotargeting capabilities, brands will be able to target the app's huge user database at a granular level.

?Users will choose sponsored geofilters for their Snapchats, making their experience personalized and tailored,? she said. ?Equally important, the receiving end of the sponsored Snapchats will be on an opt-in basis.

?This means that users will organically open the Snapchat and view the sponsored content as non-promotional.?

Capitalizing on location
Snapchat, which boasts almost 100 million daily worldwide users, now enables consumers to personalize their photos sent to friends and family with a slew of geofiltering stickers to indicate their location. For example, users in New York City can add stickers depicting the ?Big Apple? or the word ?Manhattan? flanked by skyscraper illustrations.

As users continually enjoying showing off their travels, meals and purchases on social media, offering sponsored and branded stickers is an optimal way for marketers to reach even more customers. If a user receives a Snapchat from his or her friend enjoying a cheeseburger at McDonald?s, he or she may then feel inspired to pick up dinner from the fast-food chain.

?If there ever was a social phenomenon that brands struggle to use, it?s Snapchat,? said Scott Michaels, executive vice president at Atimi, Vancouver. ?Today, brands use the methodology known from other social channels, which is to go the sponsorship route and product placement or discussion from Snapchat users who have tons of followers.

?Here, we see Snapchat providing a much more direct way for brands to get involved, and it?s pretty on point for what end users would want to do, and still be fun with the branded content. It?s definitely early days, and what brands should be doing now in this arena is doing a test project, measuring, and seeing if it actually provides value.?

McDonald?s is turning to mobile more than ever now, as it fights to salvage fledging sales. 

The brand recently leveraged a new proximity marketing strategy at 15 McD Cafés in Istanbul, Turkey, sending beacon-enabled promotions to customers within its venues via a mobile application, resulting in a conversion rate of 20 percent (see story).

The Snapchat news also comes on the heels of McDonald's announcement that it is shrinking the amount of restaurants in the U.S. In 2015, the Big Mac marketer is closing more national locations than it is planning to open.

New advertising medium
Snapchat is initially honing in on brands with large advertising budgets for sponsorship of the geofilters, such as retailers, theaters and fast-food marketers. The stickers? organic element will likely transform this into a lucrative and innocuous advertising medium.

Consumers will not view selfies or Snapchats sent by friends as direct ads, but may be swayed to purchase something after a logo or branded illustration plants the seed in their minds.

?There is room for exploration and test-budgets when trying to tap into the Snapchat end user base,? Mr. Michaels said. ?Also, let?s face it ? it?s just easier to deal with Snapchat directly to make a deal like this, than to go the route of finding, sponsoring, and trying to quantify the end result of a Snapchat celebrity sponsored ad placement or product mention.

?Expect to see fashion, retail, gaming, and food (such as the McDonald?s example) as the primary users of sponsored geofilters.?

Snapchat?s sheer popularity with the millennial demographic also provides a huge opportunity for brands to target younger consumers who perhaps are not as familiar with their products or services.

?Snapchat offers the most natural and personalized way for brands to reach their audience,? Fetch?s Ms. Greenberg said. ?The platform is based on an opt-in approach where users have the power to choose what they watch.

?This is the best way to reach the highly lauded millennial demographic in a non-intrusive way and organic way.?

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York