Doug Frisbie, VP  Global Business Marketing at social platform Snap Inc, spoke to WARC’s Alex Brownsell for Marketer’s Toolkit 2022 about augmented reality, the rise of social commerce, and why direct relationships with customers still matter.

Toolkit 2022

This interview is part of WARC's Marketer's Toolkit 2022. Read more.

Key insights:

  • The road out of COVID-19 is not linear – marketers need to understand which new consumer trends will stick, which will revert back and operate accordingly.
  • Shopping with AR has boomed during COVID, and people who experience products through AR – like apparel and beauty – are far more likely to purchase those products.
  • Thinking about how the brand manifests across an increasingly wide range of touchpoints and building a direct relationship with your customer is now paramount.
What consumer behaviour trends are you seeing from Snapchat users as we slowly emerge from the pandemic?

The first observation I would share is that it's hard to say that we're even post-COVID at this point. The journey that we've been on is not linear. One of the things that's important for marketers – and that we've been trying to do at Snap – is just really trying to understand what behaviours we think will stick and which ones will snap back to a previous state.

In general, we've seen some great substitute [behaviours] emerge during COVID, and then there are other things for which there aren't really great substitutes. From our perspective, that would include being out in the world and experiencing the world and really connecting with your friends. That's where we think Snapchat is perfectly positioned as we emerge from COVID, because that's at the core of the value that we provide to our community.

Doug Frisbie, VP  Global Business Marketing, Snap Inc

From March last year we saw e-commerce spending by consumers go through the roof. How is Snap responding to the rise of social commerce?

Like I mentioned earlier, substitutes have emerged. One of the things we've seen that's really become part of the social commerce experience is ‘try on’ through augmented reality. Obviously during COVID, going to stores and shopping is much more difficult. When you're shopping online, you're almost shopping without a mirror.

Source: Snapchat

We've seen shopping with AR just explode during COVID, and we know people who experience products through AR – like apparel, beauty – are far more likely to purchase those products. In addition to experiencing products directly, people are also sharing those with their friends, and so we see that as a really valuable marketing channel within social commerce as well.

Which brands are you seeing succeed through virtual try-on tools?

We've done a tonne of research about AR try-on. We know that 72% of consumers who say they would use branded AR try-on agree they'd be more likely to purchase after experiencing it. We've seen a variety of brands use it effectively – American Eagle, Gucci and Farfetch are three that I would highlight over the past year or so that have integrated it into the social commerce experience.

Source: WWD

We recently launched a campaign called ‘Open Your Snapchat’ featuring case studies from brands like Pampers and Verizon, who are using AR to drive business results, not as an entertaining consumer experience but to drive their core metrics.

As Snap introduces social commerce tools, how will you ensure that user experience isn’t compromised?

We believe that a great experience actually leads to better results, and we're trying to build products that allow brands to do exactly that. The brands that really succeed on Snapchat are the ones that use multiple Snap products together and try to reach their consumer in different ways – all of which are ultimately delivering results for their bottom line.

How do you see social commerce evolving over the next year or two?

It will continue [to develop] as we see people buying more online, engaging more with social apps, and relying on recommendations from their friends. We're continuing – as other platforms are – to build out the tools for brands to do that. Earlier this year we launched ‘Public Profiles’, which for the first time gave brands the opportunity to develop a permanent presence on Snapchat. That’s a way to tie things like AR to a destination within Snapchat, to help to close the loop to drive conversion. That's going to be a continued area of focus for us.

Are you seeing particularly strong performance in social commerce from any verticals or sectors?

The breadth of brands that can adopt social commerce and benefit from it will only increase. Obviously, brands that can complete a transaction online are leading the way because the path to results is much clearer. We've seen consumer packaged goods and specifically beauty and apparel really leaning into things like AR and make it a part of their e-commerce strategy.

What impact is the rise of e-commerce having on media investment trends, and the distinction between brand-building and performance marketing?

As marketers, we often want to cast away the conventions that have gotten us to this point. The conventional view is that the marketing funnel has collapsed, and there's no such thing as brand and direct response anymore, but actually I think that brand marketing and brand strategy is as important as ever. Thinking about how your brand manifests across an increasingly wide range of touchpoints is paramount, and, as part of that, building that direct relationship with your customer.

If you don't have that, you're likely to be subject to competition and your performance will suffer. We're trying to build tools that give brands the ability to develop that direct engagement with our customers, and not just from an e-commerce and purchasing perspective but also just from an engagement perspective. Brands that employ AR as part of their campaigns show a 94% higher conversion rate than in campaigns that don't include AR, so I think engagement is now probably the most important thing when we're thinking about brand strategy.

So, as brands shift budgets into digital, your advice would be that this needn’t mean a purely doubling-down on performance?

Absolutely. You see brands who maybe traditionally didn't have that direct relationship going direct-to-consumer; similarly, you see direct-to-consumer brands investing a whole lot more in brand building as they try to broaden their pool of consumers that they can serve. That's an example of the you know the shift and the dichotomy that you see across brand and direct response.

How is the role of influencers changing amid talk about the ‘creator economy’?

Certainly, if we were going to name the top five buzzwords in the marketing world over the last few years, creators would absolutely be on that list. It's important to recognise that engaging spokespeople has always been a part of marketing. The difference now is that creators have platforms and creative tools that allow them to reach a unique audience of customers in a way that resonates more than traditional marketing would.

The industry is starting to recognise that we need to ensure that creators can build thriving businesses as part of that marketing ecosystem. We've been trying to build tools not only for brands but for creators as well, to allow them to do that. I would highlight the launch of Spotlight, and the Creator Marketplace that we launched in May. Today we have over 200,000 lens creators, developers and partners who are building AR experiences. Through things like Lens Studio we are trying to continue to build those tools to make it easier for someone to become a creator and to participate in that ecosystem.

What would be your advice for brands on how they engage with creators today, who can monetise their own content, compared to influencer marketing relationships of a few years ago?

Number one is to be true to your brand, to the creators that you're engaging and how you're engaging with them. Two, to respect the value exchange, and don't look at it as a way to reduce the investment or the expense of creating content, and ensure that creators are benefiting from that value exchange. There have been many instances where brands have either engaged with creators in a way that was inauthentic, or they haven't delivered that value and respected the need for creators to build their own businesses. I think those two things are really important to making it an effective part of any marketing strategy.