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How Digital Platforms Are Connecting Online and Offline Worlds

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Digital platforms are pulling out all the stops to grow user stickiness. In an effort to compete for your time, companies like Facebook, Snap, and Pinterest are investing in innovative technology such as machine learning, artificial intelligence and augmented reality to power creative features that connect online and offline worlds, while presenting unique opportunities for brands to interact with their audiences on these platforms. Pinterest’s visual search, Snapchat’s Snap Map, and Facebook Messenger’s chatbots are among a slate of new tools that platforms are unleashing to gain a larger share of time spent online. Several of these features will have tremendous implications for your brand:

Pinterest Lens

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Earlier this year, Pinterest made its visual discovery tool, Lens beta, available to everyone in the U.S. This tool taps into image recognition and machine learning technology to connect the offline world to the online world; people can use Lens to snap a photo of an object in the real world, or use an existing photo in their camera roll, to search for related or similar items on Pinterest. Let’s say you see someone wearing a pair of shoes you like on the subway, but are too timid to ask them where they purchased these shoes. You could use Lens to take a photo of their shoes and Lens will serve up Pins from users and businesses that resemble the shoes in question, making it possible to learn where you can buy the same pair online or in-store.

Pinterest is constantly refining this tool–most recently by supporting the ability to recognize complete dishes (i.e. the ability to recognize meatloaf and find Pins featuring meatloaf recipes). Pinterest is also starting to roll out the same image recognition that it uses to power its visual search and recommendations to make Promoted Pins even more effective. This means Pinterest is automatically using visual signals to serve ads to the people who want to see them most, based on the objects and ideas they are looking for. Now Promoted Pins show up in both Instant Ideas and the related Pins in the “More like this” section under each Pin — and in the future, Lens results!

Snapcodes

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QR codes are a digital marker that consumers see in real life and capture on their phones, directing them to special offers and other mobile marketing promotions. Snapchat refers to QR codes on its app as Snapcodes. Since Snapchat’s camera doubles as a QR code reader, people can add new friends on Snapchat by focusing their camera lens on their friends’ unique code. Most recently, Snapchat introduced a new ad format called Snap to Unlock.

Brands can place the codes, which look like Snapchat logos, on billboards, in stores or on products for people to scan. By scanning the code, they can redeem an offer or be redirected to a desired landing page on the brand’s website.

Messenger Bots

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According to Facebook, 2 billion messages are sent between people and businesses on Messenger every month, including both automated and people-initiated messages. New research by Facebook also found that when it comes to communicating with businesses — whether it’s to ask for store hours or check on the status of an online order — people say they’re more likely to shop with a business they can message instead of call or email. Facebook’s Send/Receive API allows brands to build a Messenger bot to engage existing and potential customers one-on-one and assist them in completing an action such as making a reservation at a restaurant, booking an appointment at a spa, or purchasing an item.

While people can seek out a Messenger bot organically, brands can also serve link ads on Facebook and Instagram that drive people directly to Messenger, where they can engage with a Messenger chatbot to complete a transaction.

Snap Map

Snapchat parent company Snap recently acquired social map startup Zenly to power its latest location-sharing and location-discovery feature, Snap Map.

With Snap Map, people can view Snaps of sporting events, celebrations, breaking news, and more from all across the world. Friends on Snapchat can opt into sharing their locations with each other, making it easier to meet up with people offline by seeing which friends and what events are happening nearby.

Facebook Offline Conversions Reporting

Facebook’s offline conversion measurement solution allows brands to track when transactions occur in their physical retail store and other offline channels (ex: orders made over the phone) after people see or engage with the brand’s Facebook ad. By matching transaction data from customer databases or point-of-sale systems to ads reporting, brands can better understand the effectiveness of their advertising dollars.

Snapchat World Lenses

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Snapchat’s World Lenses allow users to place 3D objects in the real world and interact with them. The augmented reality lenses are updated by Snap’s developers on a regular basis, similar to face lenses, which creates a sense of novelty and excitement that promotes further stickiness.

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AUTHORS

  • Diana Gonimah, Senior Content Strategist