Snapchat’s “Promote Local Place”: The Deeper Dive

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Snapchat continues to make moves in local. As we examined recently, this includes Local Lenses, which are location-anchored AR graphics. Snapchat also launched Snap Minis for micro-app functions like local transactions. But perhaps most notable is the new Snap Map, including local listings.

Snapchat’s 200 million users can now use Snap Map to find businesses in addition to finding friends. These two activities can go hand in hand if friends are discovered nearby on the map when users are planning local adventures.

But what matters most for local is that Snap will now let businesses promote themselves in the map interface, adding a key option for local advertising. This will happen on a self-serve basis for both SMBs and multi-location brands. The company describes the opportunity Maps presents for local businesses as follows:

“With millions of Places now appearing on the Map, brick-and-mortar stores can have their first organic presence within Snapchat. Each business will now have a ‘Place Listing,’ including details such as location, website, hours, and more. Snapchatters will also be able to get directions and call the location directly from Snapchat, and if the business is a restaurant, order takeout or delivery and make a reservation as dining in becomes safe.”

Deeper Dive

So how can businesses use this new promotional tool? Known as “Promote Local Place,” it lives within Snapchat’s Ads Manager. Businesses can find the feature in the Instant Create section, where they can claim their business. Foursquare is a data partner and provides these place listings.

Businesses can then review their pre-populated details and make modifications. They can also enter their URL, which prompts the Ads Manager to import images from their website. Businesses can apply design templates and formatting for Snapchat-centric vertical viewing.

Once the ad creative is done, businesses select targeting parameters such as distance (radius) and campaign duration. Similar to other low-friction ad creation tools like those available on Facebook, audience size and other attributes will adjust on the fly as businesses toggle through targeting options.

Snap then pushes the ad to Snap Map users who fit the targeting parameters. Listings show up on Snap Map itself, search results, and in location tags in Stories. Snapchat users can swipe up on the listing to be taken to the detailed view that was created during the above process.

Pros & Cons

All of the above is on brand for Snapchat. It’s a simple process that can be completed on a smartphone. Snapchat is the king of minimalist workflows – always a plus for local businesses, whether they be SMBs or marketing-empowered franchisees of multi-location brands.

Another advantage Promote Local Place has over other local media is its exposure to unique audiences. Specifically, Snapchat offers an engaged millennial and Gen-Z audience. That may be attractive to local advertisers, depending of course on the products they sell.

As for downsides, it’s yet to be seen if Snapchat users are interested in using the app for local search with transactional intent. I’ve been voicing the same concern about Facebook (e.g. Graph Search) for years. It’s also uncertain if the functionality and UX are on par with leading standards like those of Google Maps.

Another question is if SMBs will bite. Like many tech companies that gaze at local’s long-tail SMB opportunity, there’s a looming reality check pertaining to long-standing challenges around how SMBs buy (or don’t buy) advertising on a DIY basis. Niantic is in a similar boat with its new SMB self-serve ad play.

Partnering Play

Similar to Apple Maps, Snap will tap third-party partners in various verticals for mapping data. Foursquare, TripAdvisor, Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Postmates are launch partners, and more will follow. This aligns with Snap’s broader strategy to partner with data providers.

This reliance on third-party data signals an opportunity for local data and listings players. The self-serve orientation likewise signals an opportunity for local media resellers or agencies who can bundle Snap with their current offerings and help get unsavvy local businesses onboarded.

All of the above will be clearer in the coming months. And of course, another variable is Covid-era dynamics and economic retraction. Market shifts often cause advertisers to re-examine ad budgets and accelerate digital transformation — good news for new entrants.

Mike Boland has been a tech & media analyst for the past two decades, specifically covering mobile, local, and emerging technologies. He has written for Street Fight since 2011. More can be seen at