Snap Scan Shines New Light on the Company’s Local Discovery Ambitions

Snapchat’s ambition to become a socially fueled local discovery engine recently got a boost with Snap Scan, a visual search tool that makes the world searchable and shoppable. Connecting dots over several years, Snap’s geo-local efforts include Geofilters, Snap Map, Local Place Promote, and Local Lenses. 

Is Snap Building a Local Discovery Engine?

Snap wants to compete with Google Maps as a local search and discovery engine. That’s a tall order, but Snap could have an edge in socially-fueled map results. As often, it’s all about the data.

Is Amazon Primed for the Data Privacy Era?

In a world that favors first-party networks — especially those with ample web traffic outside of iOS apps — it doesn’t get much bigger than Amazon. The question is if the e-commerce giant can attract advertisers en masse with the reach of its ad network plus the unfettered targeting and first-party contextual relevance of the world’s largest online store.

Mapping Innovations Accelerate for the Post-Covid Era

The latest mapping innovations can be summed up in the announcements coming out of the last three major developer conferences. As we’re in the midst of developer conference season, this includes Google I/O, Snap’s Partner Summit, and Apple’s flagship WWDC. Let’s tackle those one at a time.

Amazon’s Retail-as-a-Service Expands into Payments, AR, and Salons

As Amazon continues to mature, it needs to find revenue growth in new, creative places. The company’s booming advertising business is one such conquest. Iterating on the AWS playbook by bringing tech-fueled logistical innovations to physical stores could be another.

Augment My Town: Local’s Next Turf Battle

AR fuses the digital and physical. So, could it assist in the vexing and longstanding challenge of closing the online/offline gap? We’re starting to see signals that it might. 

What Emerging Tech is Driving Localized Brand Marketing?

Running an emerging tech-driven digital agency, Maher is on the front lines of marketing innovation for brand clients like Panera and Bolle. For both of those campaigns, there was a local component, including Panera’s in-store AR integrations and Bolle’s local activations at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

To anticipate the upcoming Street Fight Summit and Maher’s speaking role, we sat down with him for his view on the drivers and dynamics of digital marketing. Here’s our dialogue with Maher on the biggest brand marketing trends and value drivers he’s tracking.

How Will Retail Redefine Itself in the ’20s?

This post is the latest in our “Disrupting Retail” series. It’s our editorial focus for the month of February, and you can see the rest of the series here.  One positive phenomenon of the Covid era has been accelerated digital transformation in traditional sectors. This could be a blessing in disguise, as sectors like retail could […]

Can Immersive Marketing Boost Local Businesses?

One of the emerging technologies driving innovation amid Covid is AR. For example, its ability to add real-life interactivity to e-commerce gained traction in 2020. This could extend to a post-Covid world of “touchless” retail for in-aisle virtual product interaction.

Can Mobile Gaming Boost Multi-Location Brands?

Climbing Pokémon Go revenue is mostly from in-app purchases, where players pay for digital in-game elements to accelerate their leveling up. But Pokémon Go maker Niantic is also looking to diversify its business model with other revenue streams — most notably, local advertising.

Qualifying and Quantifying 2020’s E-commerce Surge

Spending hasn’t declined — it’s just shifted. One of the themes we’re seeing is that the standouts of 2020 are those who have shifted with it. We’re talking here about a broad definition of e-commerce — not just ordering things online, but any digital or mobile purchase.

For example, in local commerce, these digital fulfillment models include mobile order-ahead functions in QSR and coffee. They also include curbside pickup for physical goods. And in an even broader sense (and looking forward), they will include touchless or cashier-less retail in a post-Covid era of physical retail.

What’s Snapchat’s Local Play?

Snap continues to make moves in local commerce. Historic steps include geo-filters, while more recent activity includes Local Lenses and business listings in Snap Map. These features are notable on their own, but they get more interesting when you view them together and extrapolate to Snap’s local road map.

For example, Snap has more 13-34-year-olds active than any other channel, including Facebook and Instagram. This essentially means Snap can offer SMBs incremental and non-duplicated reach to an attractive audience.

Connecting the Dots on Google’s Visual Road Map

Google continues to double down on visual search and navigation. Its latest move came last week with updates to its Live View visual navigation to help users identify and qualify local businesses. This follows soon after its Earth Cloud Anchors that will let users create digital content on physical places.

Both developments tell us something about what may well be the future of local search: augmented reality-enhanced visuals.

Self-Serve Restaurant Ordering in a Post-Covid World

We expect to see a continued rise in touchless retail shopping and contactless transactions à la Amazon Go Stores.

But one of the less-discussed technologies in the Covid-advantaged bucket is self-serve mobile restaurant ordering. The idea is that ordering and paying from your table can reduce server interaction — which has Covid and non-Covid benefits considering it can save diners’ lives and their time.

3 Technologies to Support Retail’s Touchless Era

When we return to shopping in physical stores, will that look different? It’s hard to imagine there will be as much much merchandise handling as before. Will it be a “touchless” environment? And if so, which technologies will power the touchless future?

Let’s dive into a few candidates.

Triangulating Apple Maps: The Tech Angle

Apple surprised the local search world last month when it announced local business reviews in Maps. Similar to its other search-based efforts, Apple formerly relied on partners like Yelp for local listings and reviews. But now, as part of its broader data-driven Maps overhaul, it will phase in original content.

Much has been written about this within the local search publishing world and analyst corps, including my colleague Stephanie Miles’ article on how brands can prepare for Apple Maps reviews here on Street Fight. So in the interest of treading new ground, what less-discussed clues lie in Apple’s recent mapping moves that can triangulate its direction?

Earnings Season Teases Retail’s Next Normal

Earnings results that rolled out from retail giants over the past week further demonstrate what our next normal will look like. Specifically, Walmart and Target both hit record numbers. This is partly a function of Covid-era circumstances, but it is also due to each retailer’s active e-commerce momentum.

The earnings validate consumer acclimation to digitally infused local shopping. What’s more, other retailers and down-market businesses will look to replicate this success. This can all therefore be viewed as a leading indicator for retail’s next normal.

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

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.

Can a Pandemic Inflect Local Commerce Tech? Part II

What about the tech adoption accelerants happening on the supply side? Tech giants who provide marketing and operational tools for local businesses have been in hyperdrive over the past few months to roll out new Covid-era features.

Here are three areas where we’re seeing the most activity … and where we could correspondingly see the most local business evolution.

Apple and Snap Signal Local AR Commerce Ambitions

Recent announcements from Snap and Apple at their respective developer conferences point to future connections between AR and local commerce.

Snap’s Local Lenses will let developers create geo-anchored persistent content that Snap users can discover through the camera interface. This will also include the ability for users to leave persistent AR graphics for friends to discover. The use case that Snap has promoted is more about fun and whimsy, including “painting” the world with digital and expressive graffiti. But the development could also include local storefront information.

Moving on to Apple, it similarly continues to show its AR aspirations. The latest is GeoAnchors for ARkit, announced at WWDC.  These evoke AR’s location-based potential by letting users plant and discover spatially anchored graphics that are persistent across sessions and users.