As 2019 inches closer, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel will be looking to improve on its marketing and communications for users to better understand the platform’s value. In a 15-page memo Spiegel (pictured) sent to his employees, he highlighted his aims to change the design language of its product.
Furthermore, Spiegel addressed that the redesign actually slowed down its product and also “eroded” its core product value. While the redesign was was done in a bid to separate “social” circles from the media, the algorithm ended up separating the friend feed from professional content creators, which led to difficulty in finding the right people to talk to. As such, Snapchat did not have the time to optimise the Friend feed for fast performance.
Spiegel also added that Snapchat did not have the time to optimise the Friend feed for fast performance due to the lack of time spent on iterating and testing the redesign with a smaller percentage of its community. This ultimately led to the backlash from users.
“Even though I wish that we had taken more time to get the redesign right before rolling it out, it’s hard to predict that long term benefit of getting ahead of the existential challenges now faced by social media companies,” Spiegel said.
Another interesting revelation from Spiegel is that the platform will now look to bring older users on board.
According to a report by eMarketer in August 2018, Snapchat currently takes the lead with 16.4 million users aged 12 to 17 on its platform.
Spiegel noted in the memo on Cheddar that most of the incremental growth in markets such as US, UK and France come from older users, generating higher average revenue per user. He added that growing the older demographics will require the team to mature its app, as well as deliver its core product value.
He also said that growing its daily active users has the potential to accelerate its revenue growth. “In the short term, acquiring new users in highly-monetisable markets such as the US, UK, and France will drive this goal directly. In the long term, average revenue per user can be correlated with market penetration as advertisers seek to invest in platforms that scale,” he added.
In addition to growing its user base, Snapchat aims to grow in new markets such as Indonesia, India, Mexico, Brazil or the Philippines in a bid to “solve problems” that are preventing users from unlocking the app’s core product value. Spiegel added that these problems are very different from the problem of “aging up” in developed markets.
“The opportunity in terms of incremental user growth is enormous because these countries have very large, youthful populations. While serving these users will be an investment in the short term, adding users in these geographies helps us to deepen our moat. We are already seeing ‘export dollars’ come from advertisers in other countries into these markets via our self-serve tools,” he added.
Building up on AR
The platform will also focus on three core building blocks of augmented reality: understanding the world through the Snapchat camera, providing a platform for creators to build AR experiences, and investing in future hardware to transcend the smartphone.
“We’re fortunate to have such an engaged Snapchat community because the use of our camera informs a lot of the progress we are able to make in our efforts to understand the world,” said Spiegel.
For example, it is currently building software that takes the millions of Snaps submitted to the “Our Story” function, and reconstructs parts of the world in 3D. Snap plans to then build augmented reality experiences on top of those models and distribute them as Lenses. Is will also look to experiment with partners such Shazam and Amazon to help improve its understanding of what’s happening around consumers when they open the Snapchat camera.
Snap also recently rolled out Lens Explorer to help surface more of the Lenses that the Snap community is building. “Investing early in Lens Studio means we get to benefit from the network effects of our platform – we already have so many Lenses available on Snapchat and there are so many people using our camera that it would be very difficult for a competitor to start building their own AR platform today,” the memo read.
We will continue to invest heavily in Lens Studio and our AR platform to widen our lead.
According to Spiegel, the success of Lens Studio signals a shift in AR – the rise of the creative community. “Our goal has always been to allow any user- professional designer or teenage art student – to experiment, create, and share. Our belief is that the future of AR innovation will belong not just to the advanced software developer, but to the growing creative community,” the memo added.
Spiegel added that it is critical that Snap play a central role in the next transition to computing overlaid on the world and as such, the team will be investing in Spectacles hardware as an enabler of its augmented reality platform.
Our investment is a big bet – it’s risky – but if we are successful, it will change the trajectory of Snap and computing as a whole.
“There are of course many other ways that we are investing in the future of our business, but it is very important that we continue to understand “value-add” products. If our innovation compromises our core product of being the fastest way to communicate, we should consider create separate applications or other ways of delivering our innovation. This year, we will focus our innovation primarily on making faster ways to communicate and overlay computing on the world,” he added.
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