Snapchat now lets brands link Sponsored Lens, Geofilter ads to their sites

Snapchat is trying to make its most brand-friendly ad formats more appealing to direct-response advertisers.

A month after Snapchat rolled out Context Cards that append information to people’s Snaps, the mobile app is opening up the feature to advertisers. Brands buying Sponsored Lens and Sponsored Geofilter campaigns can attach Context Cards to their ads so that people can swipe-and-tap to visit their sites, Snapchat announced on Monday. Eventually, the company plans to enable brands to deep-link to their own apps through Context Cards.

A free add-on to Sponsored Lens and Sponsored Geofilter buys, Context Cards are initially available to advertisers in the US and will roll out to other countries early next year. Film studio Lionsgate is the first brand to attach Context Cards to a Sponsored Lens campaign.

As shown in the GIF below, the new variety of Sponsored Lens mirrors the original at first glance — except for the “MORE” call to action at the bottom of the Snap. Swiping up on the Snap will display a Context Card that previews the brand-picked link, and tapping on the Context Card will open the link through Snapchat’s in-app browser.

Snapchat will give advertisers basic stats on how people are using their Context Cards. Brands will be able to see how many times a Context Card was shown to people and how many times people clicked on the Context Card, as well as the click-through rate.

However, brands should be able to configure their Context Cards’ links to do their own conversion tracking. I’m waiting for a Snapchat spokesperson to say whether there are any limitations to the URL a brand uses for a Context Card. Assuming there aren’t any, a brand could include additional parameters in the URL to identify when someone is visiting a page from a Context Card. That way, the brand could track what that person does on the page and elsewhere on its site, such as making a purchase or scheduling an appointment, to measure the campaign’s return on investment.

Context Cards will only appear when people are viewing someone else’s Snap that uses a given Sponsored Lens or Sponsored Geofilter. They will not show when people are playing with a Lens themselves. That limitation can restrict the reach of these ads, which may explain why Snapchat is not charging an extra fee for the add-on.

Context Cards enable advertisers to use ads that are intended to catch people’s attention to also convert them into customers. For example, Lionsgate is using its Context Card to sell tickets for its upcoming film, “Wonder.” Similarly, retailers could use the add-on to add to their holiday shopping sales. A makeup brand could craft a Sponsored Lens that augments a person’s face with a new type of mascara and then link to its e-commerce site, or it could attach the a Context Card to a Sponsored Geofilter that links to a coupon to use in a nearby store.

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