March 2, 2016 Delmondo

Will Snapchat’s On-Demand Geofilters Become The New “Digital Stickering”?

This is a guest post by Max Doblin and originally appeared on Medium.

Try walking down a street in NYC without seeing a pole or side door completely stickered up. Sticker bombing — also known as sticker slapping or sticker tagging — is an infamously cheap, illegal, and effective form of advertising commonly used by street artists, niche brands, and startups.

The power behind stickering is a brand’s ability to create offline, location-targeted ads. Stickering, when done well, can strategically attract a very specific audience.

Head down to an NYC streetwear retailer like Supreme, KITH, or Extra Butter and you’ll find stickers from street artists and streetwear brands hanging around nearby.

Location-based stickering is a physical recommendation engine. Think of the sticker-bombers saying, “Hey, if you’re interested in this store, then you’ll love checking out what I have to offer!”

Artists and brands know this. So when a high-profile spot pops up, people flock to it. When people tag or vulture near a high-profile spot it’s known as spot-jocking, which comes from the graffiti world.

Spot-jocking is someone’s attempt to steal the show.

Here’s an example,

In October 2013, Banksy, the most famous and elusive street artist, took to the streets of NYC for a 31-day scavenger hunt. Every day he posted clues to a new piece of art somewhere in the city. Fans followed along the entire month, swiftly decrypting clues and showing up to the fresh artwork each day. Due to the incredible amount of publicity and eyeballs, other artists spot-jocked by tagging over or near his work. See below.

A graffiti artists spot-jocking and tagging over Banksy’s Red Balloon in Red Hook

Remember when the power went out at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome during the Superbowl in 2013? Audi quickly took to spot-jock Mercedes-Benz with this tweet.


So how does digital stickering and spot-jocking apply to Snapchat?

Earlier this week, Snapchat announced On-Demand Geofilters. Now, people and businesses can now create their own geofilters for things like events, concerts, parties, weddings. The options are virtually limitless.

Once you upload your design, you set a date, time, and fence for it. Pricing varies based on time + area covered. Here’s how you can create your own filter.

On-Demand Geofilters open the door to a world to creative executions. It isn’t entirely clear yet whether or not you need to be friends with someone on Snapchat to see their On-Demand Geofilter, but for now, let’s say you don’t need to be friends with them to see their filter.

This is the opportunity for brands to digitally spot-jock.

For example, let’s say Magic Hat sets up On-Demand Geofilters from 9PM-2AM on the weekends at every bar that stock their beer. If I’m at a bar in NYC that serves their beer, they can use filters to encourage me to order their beer, share my night out, etc.

What about if I’m on a street where there’s a McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, and Taco Bell? Will competitors geofence (spot-jock) each others’ locations? We just saw McDonald’s tease this billboard ad in France last week…

If you take that competitiveness down to a micro-level with local businesses then there might be a lot of that. Right now, Snapchat’s guidelines don’t prevent businesses from filtering over a zone of another business. Now that I think of it, this actually brings up an interesting question of digital-physical property. Can you advertise your business in someone else’s digital-physical space? Tangent, but anyways…

The difference between stickering and On-Demand Geofiltering is that Snapchat’s new offering, unlike stickering, can be:

  1. Contextual to the location, time, event, audience, etc.
  2. Valuable beyond simply generating awareness

For example, can a filter be used as an time-sensitive ticket to get into a venue for free before the filter expires at midnight? Can multiple filters be used as a city guide for tourists? Can a local business offer a discount to a user if they share a filter on their MyStory?

We’ve already seen brands incentivize social sharing on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare, so that doesn’t seem unlikely to happen on Snapchat. However, I hope this doesn’t happen because it may turn Snapchat into a spammy social network.

Smart brands will get creative and avoid this. On-Demand Geofilters shouldn’t feel like ads. Alex Jutkowitz, CEO of Truffle Pig (the brainchild of Snapchat, WPP, and Daily Mail) even said ,

There’s the desire for authenticity [on Snapchat]. Users value ephemerality because of its possibilities for self-expression as opposed to self-curation. While platforms like Instagram function as a public gallery of our curated experiences, Snapchat is an intimate way of connecting with others.

Brands should adopt this rule, too. The key to Snapchat is being authentic and personal. Since Snapchat is such a personal network, if you invade and bombard your consumer’s space…well, good luck.

If you’re a brand, putting a banner ad into an on-demand geofilter is like putting a square peg in a round hole.

In the case that you can only see On-Demand Geofilters if you’re friends with someone on Snapchat, the comparison to sticker-bombing and spot-jocking is a little bit weaker because unlike a sticker on a pole, not everyone in the fenced area can see a filter.

Expect brands to start making an even bigger push with content on Snapchat, getting creative with their On-Demand Geofilters, and figuring out insane ways to acquire followers.

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