Social Samosa gets in conversation with Rami Saad, Head of International Content Partnerships, Snap Inc. to understand the insight behind Snap’s India entry and the Snap’s India strategy.
Snap Inc. entered the Indian market with a localized Discover, stickers, lenses, and more, opening doors for Indian Snapchatters and brands to leverage the app. From a brand perspective, new ad formats, including tiled Story Ads, Snap Ads, and Commercials, are available through Snap’s Indian on ground partner, Tyroo.
Snap has been under fire for losing out on users in the last couple of months. The media mammoth, however, is betting big on exclusive audience and engagement they create through hyper-local content.
Social Samosa gets in a conversation with Rami Saad, Head of International Content Partnerships, Snap Inc. to understand the insight behind Snap’s India entry, their stance on competitors, and more.
Please share the insight that went behind expanding Discover to India
India is a market we’re really committed to investing in. We are investing our time and energy in making sure that user experience on Snap is as local as possible; be it in terms of lenses, filters, or videos and stickers. In terms of timing, when we look at the way we’re expanding our overall content proposition, we like to launch with a wide variety of content choices. Every market we have launched in and presented a local content proposition, we have seen a spike in overall engagement and interest in content. We are excited to see a similar impact in India.
Now that you have tailored, local content in India, will you be going head-on with IGTV, Facebook Watch or YouTube for that matter? Where do you think Discover stands in the current competitive environment?
We have been thinking about vertical content since the start and by ‘start’ I am talking about four years ago when we launched Discover. We put a lot of energy in understanding how users are creating Snaps to express themselves and communicate with their loved ones and how media companies are adopting this and finding ways to tell stories in a format that is 100 percent vertical.
The thing that really sets us apart is that we’re highly curated.
There is friends’ content and media content. We took the difficult decision to think about our goals and separate the two from each other because we genuinely believe that a friend experience is different from a media experience. Other platforms face challenges in organizing the huge amount of content available across platforms versus us, where we’re highly curated. We work with handpicked partners that are interested. We guide them into what works; we learn so much from them; they learn from using the platform.
When you look at other platforms, people are in consumption mode and only a small percentage of users create content. Snapchat, on the other hand, is in Create mode and that differentiates our proposition. We hear from our partners that the audience they get on Snap is exclusive and can’t be found on other platforms; second, they love the curated experience because it makes the content partners feel secure and protected. It creates the same impact on the advertisers’ side where they know they’re buying into a pretty selected set of partners.
Some other feedback we hear is around image building and being able to reconnect. For instance, Economist found a new voice on Snap. It’s interesting how a 100-year-old brand, without being condescending, found a new way to tell stories to a young demographic in a way that really captures the essence of the topic they’re trying to address but also not belittle their brand or appear as something they’re not.
While exclusive audience is Snap’s USP, things are different when it comes to the number game. Facebook and Instagram have a huge number of users which assures volumes. How do you compete with that?
We take a lot of pride in the fact that we don’t surface vanity metrics. If I ask you to go on the app and tell me how many friends you have, you won’t be able to see a number. You’ll have to count it one by one. We don’t surface the number of friends, we don’t have Likes or surface the number of comments because we genuinely believe that these experiences aren’t about what’s popular. It should be about what’s important and what’s popular. This is what users love when they speak to us because they feel they’re taking control back.
Of course, as a creator we have some decisions to make; we have a lot of confidence in the product we’re building so the content experiences we’re looking for are the content experiences that may live elsewhere as well. What that means is that the creator may actually be publishing a show in horizontal format and may produce a 5-minute version of the same show in a vertical format on Snap.
A distributed content strategy is what partners typically think of and we’re pretty confident of the role we play within the distribution list publishers typically think about.
What kind of monetization arrangement do you have in place with the local content creators?
With Snap, monetization is switched on from Day 1. The way this works is that the partner will create content and upload it on our Stories Video, which is our publishing tool. As they publish it, users will see ads within the content. Those ads can be bought through a variety of ways – they can be bought through our sales partner on ground which is Tyroo in India, they can be bought directly in a programmatic way and regardless how these ads are being bought as ads run we share the ad revenues with our partners.
More than half of the Indian internet user base is Non-English. Do you plan to divulge into regional languages content?
Whenever we’re addressing a region we always begin at a certain level. We need time to explore more granularities or more hyper-local approach. When we launched in MENA we started off with Arab content across regions, but last week we announced a number of formats that are actually made for UAE and Saudi Arabia. As we start seeing results we’ll drill deeper into a variety of different strategies be it languages or even sub-genres. The way we prioritize is how these different dimensions work for us.
According to App Annie, in August 2018 in India, Snapchat ranked #7 (MAU)* on Android within the Social category and #3 (MAU)* on iPhone in the Photo & Video category. Do you see localized Discover impacting Snapchat’s positioning in India?
We have seen better engagement whenever we have introduced local content in a new market and my hope is that it will impact our overall position within the Indian market as well. It’s all about understanding the market. What Snapchatters care about in a given market, what content and genres resonate and being close to a variety of partners and companies on ground also immediately has an impact on us as a business. We are committed to investing in the Indian market and we will keep a close on eye how things are developing.
What next for Snapchat in India? Any message for Social Samosa readers?
Snap Originals is a very important part of our strategy overall; we definitely want to introduce Originals in our international markets. When we do that we want to make sure we do it in an adequate way and when the timing is right. As soon as it is the right time Snap Originals will be on the table.