Instagram AR Filters – better than Snapchat for marketing?

When it comes to comparing advertising accessibility, cost efficiency and potential reach, the marketing opportunities offered by Instagram beat Snapchat’s 9 times out of ten. Instagram has a number of advantages in this sense: it’s a year older, has a larger base of users and is owned by the leaders in leveraging a social network to generate advertising revenue (Facebook).

Some would argue that Snapchat offers a more interactive opportunity but with the release of Instagram’s copy cat feature of adding face filters to Stories (Stories being their other copy cat feature), suddenly the variables for discussion are reduced. Let’s be honest, variables ruin debates like these…it just keeps going round in circles. For instance:

  • Who is the best F1 driver? Well that is difficult to say because of the differences between the cars and teams.
  • Burger King vs McDonalds? Depends if your allegiance is with the quality of the chips, burger or other delicious fast food item.

That was the same with Instagram vs Snapchat, their offering was similar but with significant variables which meant that drawing comparisons was difficult. So in that respect, the fact that Instagram now offers a lot of the functionality that Snapchat does means that it has become a straight(er) sprint for the line.

A critical factor in the success and longevity of social media platforms is their ability to generate revenue, the majority of which will come through advertising. So focusing on the topic of the moment, face filters, which platform’s face filters offer the best opportunity for marketers?

At first you may expect us to analyse the benefits between the two face filters. However, considering the level of plain faced plagiarism by Instagram it would be safe to presume that whatever Snapchat comes out with, Instagram will follow. As such, the filters are likely to remain reasonably similar. As a result, we need to look at how attractive both platforms (and their face filters) are to marketers.

Let’s look at Snapchat first.

Snapchat is hugely successful with the younger generation, a demographic that marketers have traditionally targeted due to a perceived sense of malleability. This is promising for companies that are gaining exposure for the newest products that appeal to that demographic. Snapchat has also been in the AR Face Filter game for longer than Instagram which may help the larger advertisers with creating more bespoke filters.

But there are big problems with Snapchat’s marketing offering. Their platform as a whole is not as easily accessible for day-to-day marketers. Not only is it difficult to market less exciting products to such a discerning young audience but the primary function of disappearing content makes it a hard sell. Why does this matter? Marketers want ROI. The risk liability for Snapchat advertising spend is relatively unknown, which for marketers translates to ‘very high’.

But what of Instagram?

Instagram is by no means perfect. But when it comes to generating advertising revenue and the use of Face Filters we only see one winner. Why? Glad you asked.

The platform already has a significant amount of companies invested in both organic and paid marketing on the platform. In loose terms that means brand loyalty. No one likes investing time and money into a platform to then ditch it at the drop of a hat. This places Instagram in a far stronger position for brands and marketers alike to incorporate the use of face filters into their existing Instagram campaigns.

Instagram has been a hub for influencer marketing, only topped by TV adverts for fashion and luxury brands, although who could forget Brad Pitt’s bizarre ‘speech’ advocating Chanel No.5? Instagram’s face filters will provide diversity for these influencers and we are already seeing influencers utilising stories to promote their partner brands instead of having cheesy ads clogging up their carefully curated feeds. Add to this the significant advantage in terms of follower numbers for influencers on Instagram and utilising the Instagram Face Filters become more seductive than those at rival Snapchat.

Finally, both platforms have the opportunity to collaborate with global brands who are willing to spend significant amounts of cash to create promotional face filters; think about the opportunities for Guinness in the run up to St Patrick’s day. It clearly depends on the target demographics for the advertisers and the process by which they create these filters in cahoots with Snapchat and Instagram. However, with Instagram’s wider demographic and significantly larger userbase it will appeal to a wider range of businesses than Snapchat.

This doesn’t mean the death of Snapchat

Snapchat has proven to be a highly adaptable social network and has been an innovator in how people communicate and broadcast to the web. There are likely to be a few sweaty palms at Snap Inc HQ but with the recent backing from hedge funds, the money is there to continue innovating – for the time being at least. While this may prove to be an inconvenient (and significant) bump in the road towards growth, don’t count them out just yet.

Contributions: Simon Ensor, managing director at Yellowball

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