GeoMarketing 101: What Are Geofilters?

Location-based marketing on millennial-favorite platform Snapchat is rapidly evolving.

Location data, geo-targeting, geofences. Location-based technology is opening up a world of possibilities for marketers — but it’s also complicated, as new capabilities and use cases seem to emerge every day.

It’s with this in mind that we introduce our new GeoMarketing 101 series, aimed at breaking down some of the most important “geo” concepts to provide a better understanding of the basics — and a jumping off point for exploring how far the power of location may take us.

What Are Geofilters?

Geofilter technology was introduced by Snapchat, and since it entered the cultural lexicon as the app soared in popularity, it makes sense to begin with what Snapchat itself says about them.

“Geofilters are a fun way to share where you are through filter overlays,” Snapchat wrote on its blog. “They are specific to neighborhoods and special locations.”

Snapchat geofilters

In other words, geofilters let mobile users add a location illustration — specific to where they are by city, neighborhood, or even store — to photos that they may then share with friends or followers via Snapchat. The smartphone’s location signals pick up where the user is at a given time, and the appropriate geofilter is offered based on this location.

Simple enough. But while their original use case was primarily to let Snapchat users tell a friend “I’m in New York City!” with a fun or artsy filter, marketers are now using the technology to do a lot more.

How Are Brands Using Them?

Snapchat first expanded its ad options in June 2015, launching “sponsored geofilters” for brand locations. McDonald’s was the first to try it out, and the fast-food chain paid to make custom filters — illustrations of McDonald’s cheeseburgers and pouches of fries, among others — available to Snapchat users while they were in its physical locations.

McDonald's snapchat

Snapchat had always been an inherently location-based app — snapchatters use it to show friends where they are and what they’re doing in real time — but the introduction of sponsored geofilters marked the first time that the app allowed brands to advertise in a location-specific way.

And while the sponsorships were primarily intended to drive brand affinity, it’s very possible that a user who walks by a McDonald’s while on Snapchat could see the filter and opt to go inside and make a purchase — and brands may begin to experiment with this discovery aspect before long.

But sponsored geofilters for many locations were expensive, and they began as the province of only major chains like McDonald’s and Home Depot. That changed with the introduction of custom, on-demand geofilters in February.

What About Local SMBs?

With on-demand geofilters, anyone can pay Snapchat to create their own custom geofilter in a specific area for a set amount of time, with a minimum size of 5,000 square feet and a minimum duration of 30 minutes. Turnaround time for a review is roughly a day, and pricing begins at $5.

Now, as a result of the on-demand filter addition, local SMBs can use Snapchat as their own marketing channel without prohibitive expense. Social media is already an integral part of many local businesses’ marketing strategies, due to the fact that it is low cost and easily managed in-house — and Snapchat is well positioned to become a more significant tool in the arsenal.

Additionally, users are likely send more snaps from a given location if it provides an interesting or artistic geofilter. This increases publicity for the given business in a way that’s set to drive foot-traffic; would-be customers can’t buy directly from Snapchat (at least, not yet), nor can they get the geo-filter for the pictures unless they actually go to the physical location.

“Every day, Snaps overlaid with geofilters are viewed hundreds of millions of times,” Snapchat said on its blog. “Now… [on-demand filters offer] a fun way to help friends or customers decorate their Snaps, wherever they are.”

There remains untapped future potential for geofilters, of course. Could they be used — without alienating snapchatters — to promote flash sales, pop-ups, or other deals? The location-specific possibilities are wide open, and with the introduction of these more affordable geofilter sponsorships, a lot more brands are likely to start experimenting.

Read More

Snapchat Expands Ad Options, Offering Sponsorships For Its ‘Geofilters’How location-specific geofilter sponsorships first opened up the Snapchat ad landscape.

Snapchat Now Offers Custom, On-Demand Geofilters — Starting At $5The geo-possibilities for individuals and local SMBs.

About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.