Social media influencer Jen Levinson anchors the first episode of Marriott's Snapchat series.
Hotel chains aren’t really cool. They have cool stuff to offer, like free wi-fi and swimming pools, but if you’re a young traveler on a budget, you might be looking more to services like Airbnb.
Marriott isn’t ready to concede that, so they’re going after millennials on their own turf: Snapchat. The goal is to convince these travelers via Snapchat that Marriott Rewards is a program worthy of their fickle love.
Marriott on Thursday released the first of four “snapisodes,” the term they’re using to describe advertisements they have created for Snapchat. This isn’t just your typical Snap ad, which is more often a 10-second video clip or a swipe up to a website or movie trailer. These are three-minute, influencer-filled productions meant to capture teen eyeballs while also proving their dedication to Snapchat.
Marriott Rewards’s effort is pretty much a dream come true for Snapchat. Previously, media partners, like Mashable and TV studios, were the only outlets building exclusive, high-quality, episodic content for its app. But now brands representing some of the world’s largest businesses are vying for spots on the platform. That could mean that brands could have their own channel or they sponsor takeovers of existing ones.
In the meantime, these businesses are proving themselves to Snapchat by creating and paying for ads.
“The idea originally was to mimic television. We wanted to create a TV series and mimic it as such,” said Amanda Moore, senior director of social and digital marketing at Marriott International. “Snapchat provided us with a lot of best practices, speaking to camera. We knew we needed someone authentic, relatable.”
The four-part series titled Six Days, Seven Nights are called “snapisodes” because it’s an ad purposely made for Snapchat. It’s so on-brand for Snapchat that they even filmed part of it using Snapchat Spectacles, the app’s video-camera sunglasses.
The three-minute episodes each feature a different social media influencer talking to the camera and sharing their story around destination. The first episode features traveling in Berlin.
For the last two years, Snapchat has built up its own media platform called Discover, where media outlets (Mashable is a partner) create exclusive content. Snapchat previously ran its own channel called Snap Channel, where it had scripted shows similar to these “snapisodes.”
The world’s largest entertainment studios and now the world’s largest hospitality business have taken some of the burden off Snapchat, producing and promoting their own Snapchat Shows.
For Marriott, the ad commitment aligns with their authentic social strategy and goal of expanding the Marriott Rewards program.
“Our approach to social media is very curated and very professional,” Moore said. “When it comes to Facebook, you’ll see us do a lot in video this year especially when it comes to live. We’re focused on Instagram stories, planning to create 100 unique stories this year.”
“Snapchat for us felt like a natural next step,” she continued, “Its an opportunity for us to reach new audiences.”
Marriott Rewards began using Snapchat back in April 2016, but primarily used the app to create geofilters, where brands can pay to have filters that Snapchat users can overlay on their photos and videos while in certain locations, such as inside a hotel.
The brand isn’t that active on their Snapchat account, but for a reason.
“Snapchat for us, its a channel thats very raw, but we also wanted to be very specific and intentional,” Moore said. “We dont want to put content up for the sake of putting content up.”
That idea of not producing daily or regularly scheduled content for a social channel is foreign to some brands, but it’s exactly what Snapchat preaches. As Digiday reported, more than 30 percent of brand accounts on Snapchat are inactive. But, again, Snapchat doesn’t care. Marriott is following the playbook of creating Snapchat-exclusive ads and paying for their placement.
It’s the perfect pay-to-play scenario for Snap.
Marriott worked with Imre, a New York-based marketing agency, and Delmondo, a creative studio and technology company that gained notoriety for its analytics and production on Snapchat back in 2014.
“The episodic format is the best way to form peoples attention,” said Nick Cicero, CEO of Delmondo. “That has remained consistently the highest performing format.”
Snapchat users could happen upon the ad if they follow certain travel and hospitality-related channels on the app. The episode also will be put up on YouTube and the Marriott Rewards Facebook Page.
The Marriott Rewards Snapchat account also will feature behind-the-scenes of each episode.
Discovery on Snapchat isn’t perfect, but there’s a way forward that Marriott and Snapchat have at least discussed. Back when Snapchat debuted its first ad for the movie Ouiji, it appeared at the top of user’s feeds, a.k.a. prime real estate for attention. Now, there’s a chance users will skip it or just miss it.
But, Snapchat has been adding to the number of Discover partners. For now, branded content, as in channels sponsored by a partner brand, is forbidden on Snapchat. But brand-only channels could become a bigger part of the platform. Sony had one for James Bond Spectre back in October 2015, and Spotify sponsored a music series in December 2015.
Brands, like Marriott Rewards, have been chatting with Snapchat about an opportunity to be on Discover, as well.
“Discover was on the table for us,” Moore said. “Going back to the TV mentality, were talking season one here. This is our pilot.”
Now Marriott and Snapchat have to determine: “Does this thing have legs? Discover is something on the table if this thing takes off … for this initial season as a brand we kind of wanted to see this vision come to life and get to market quickly.”
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Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/03/30/snapchat-marriott-rewards-shows/