Snapchat’s Context Cards Extend Digital Presence Information From Outside Apps

The introduction of Snapchat’s Context Cards represent the clearest way for brands that manage their online listings to get in front of the image sharing platform’s 173 million daily users.

The company bills Context Cards as a “new way” for Snapchatters to learn about what they’re viewing via information from third–party app partners including Foursquare, TripAdvisor, Michelin, and Goop. Context Cards also offers connections to ride-hailing apps Uber and Lyft, as well as reservation platforms Open Table, Resy, and Bookatable.

Context Card in action: Using Snap’s own “Knowledge Graph” and tools like Snap Map, users can find information about places — and then make a reservation or hail a ride all without leaving the Snapchat app.

Context And Engagement

In a larger sense, Context Cards shows the expansion of the “Knowledge Graph” concept promoted by Google that aims to meet consumers’ demand for specific answers and information instead of a list of links from a search.

The Snapchat feature is similar to the mix of personalized news and place-based information that Google Now app users see via “smart cards.”

In the case of  Snapchat Context Cards, when a user sees an image of, say, a place that serves pancakes in a Snap, they can swipe up if that Snap says “More” at the bottom to see more information likes reviews about that business from partners like TripAdvisor or Foursquare, for example.

Once within the Context Cards for a specific location or venue, a user can then locate the restaurant on Snap Map, contact the restaurant directly or make a reservation (if it’s available) via Open Table, Bookatable, or Resy, and even get an Uber or Lyft to take them there — all without leaving Snapchat.

Snapchat Context Cards showcase location information and provide access to apps that will connect the user to a physical place.

It all adds up to the way Snapchat has gone from bewildering publishers, agencies, and brands as marketing partner two years ago to being an essential part of practically all major brands’ app engagement and Digital Presence Management by linking together places and related real-time information) to online/offline strategies.

No Ads, Only Organic Connection

The advent of Context Cards comes as other platforms seek ways of aligning with complementary apps. Two weeks ago, as an example, Walmart signed on to Button’s Marketplace, an app engagement and payments platform that connects matches mobile content with the ability to access related transactions without having to juggle multiple apps at once.

The Context Cards also follow the path set by previous Snap features like Geofilters, which initially allowed only users to add an image overlay telling friends their location,  and Snap Map, which debuted in June and lets Snapchatters position themselves on a map of the world while displaying crowd-sourced images and videos shared from specific locations.

Like Snap Map, ads will not appear within the Snaps found in Context at this time — that includes Snap Ads and Sponsored Creative Tools. In general, it’s worth noting that in the interest of preserving its unique user experience, ads still do not appear between Snaps in Search or Snap Map today either.

Location At The Center

The feature also puts a spotlight on the importance of location technology that Snap has relied on.

Foursquare is noted as a particular partner in Context Cards, thanks in part to its personalized discovery tools based on its location intelligence as well as its connection to a wide range of brands. But it’s not the only provider of geospatial information to Snap.

In addition to its purchase of online-to-offline attribution Placed this summer, Snap Map is also powered by navigation and geo-data visualization players Mapbox, OpenStreetMaps, and DigitalGlobe. On the advertising side, Snap also works with geo-data specialist Factual and location-based ad targeting and analytics provider GroundTruth.

Overall, Snap relies on a sophisticated combination of internal and external signals to determine relationships between venues and locations. Together with location intelligence from its partners, it been able to build a strong knowledge graph, the value and accuracy of which will continue to grow stronger.

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Uber Brings Back Uber Offers As ‘Visa Local Offers’

Uber has reintroduced its Uber Offers program as Visa Local Offers, allowing users to get 10 percent back on Uber rides for using the Visa card linked to their Uber account at select local merchants — a move that both deepens the tie between brick-and-mortars and on-demand providers and stands to boost foot traffic to local businesses.

The program offers clear benefits for Uber, local businesses, and Visa: Businesses boost discovery through Uber’s vast user base; Uber stands to increase rides by betting that the resulting 10 percent discount will encourage riders to choose Uber over a competitor; and Visa gets cardholders to spend more at both businesses and on Uber rides in order to unlock the promotion.

“You don’t even have to Uber to the location,” Uber said in a statement. “Just use your card around town like you usually do.”

Uber’s Visa Local Offers merchants for August include Walgreens, Denny’s, Petco, and others.

On-Demand Boosts Brick-And-Mortar

In addition to being a potential driver for local store visits, the program looks likely to appeal to brands due to the “captive audience” element: When people are on a car ride, they can’t get up and leave, and they are (most likely) looking at their smartphones. Showing them participating merchants and offers then — as Uber does — makes them more likely to be responsive, especially considering that the offer is going to translate to a discount for an app they (clearly) already use.

The main question after the reintroduction of the program might be this: Can local SMBs — who live and die by local foot traffic even more than major chains with a web presence — participate as much as the Walgreens of the world? And, if they do, will it make a significant difference in the age of competing with Amazon?

Uber didn’t respond to a request to comment at this time. But promotions of this variety remain a smart bet for retailers looking for a low-cost way to further bridge the online and offline worlds — even as the extent of the impact on physical sales remains to be seen.

In any case, as brands realize the local discovery advantages conferred by on-demand services, a great deal more of these “pay to play” offer partnerships are likely to emerge. It is also continued reminder that Uber’s transformation from an on-demand app to a full-fledged marketing platform has finally taken place — and the company will continue to invest its energy there in the future.

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General Motors’ Maven Gig Arrives In San Fran To Support On-Demand Economy

Maven Gig, the offshoot brand of General Motors’ multi-city shared-mobility, subscription-based project Maven, is moving into its second city to provide cars for independent freelancers who need wheels.

The first Maven Gig service was launched in May in San Diego. The primary Maven car rental service has been operating on-demand ride-sharing rentals in San Francisco since August 2016. More than 20 million miles have been driven under the Maven brand in San Francisco and nearly 1 million rides have been given.

In February, Atlanta became the 17th city to host GM’s experiment in car-sharing conjunction with Lyft Express Drive, the ride-hailing platform’s rental car business. Since then, Maven has expanded its presence in New York City and Baltimore.

As concepts from self-driving cars to connected cars, along with the expansion of ride-hailing programs from Uber and Lyft, become more mainstream, automakers like GM have been racing to explore new business models.

Maven Gig is available in San Francisco and San Diego. Drivers can sign up online.

Supporting The Gig Economy

The rise of on-demand services from ride-hailing to food delivery to even laundry and dry cleaning pick-up has made freelancing viable for many people seeking part-time work or trying to support themselves in between full-time jobs.

Naturally, the nature of work in the gig economy has also multiplied the challenges for independent contractors. For one thing, a car is a necessity not easily supported by the wages most delivery people make.

That’s where GM’s Maven Gig has stepped in. The Maven Gig has formal partnerships with food-delivery platforms like GrubHub, Instacart, as well as courier and shipping service Roadie, along with ride-hailing services Lyft and Uber.

The company is working on expanding its list of on-demand partners as it seeks to ramp up the program.

“By 2020, an estimated 43 percent of the U.S. workforce will be made up of freelance workers,” Maven Gig says. “The nature of employment is changing, and Maven Gig is a nimble platform that will grow and adapt with the shift.”

Freelancers who subscribe to Maven Gig in San Francisco are offered access to a Chevrolet Bolt EV on a weekly basis starting at $229 per-week — plus taxes (including insurance, maintenance and free charging at EVGo stations for a “limited time”).

“Gig drivers typically drive for more than one app throughout the day,” GM notes. “Maven Gig is platform agnostic to allow drivers to switch between several brands, services and gigs.”

Other GM cars available in the SF Maven Gig program include the Chevrolet Cruze ($189/week plus taxes), Malibu ($199/week plus taxes) and Trax ($209/week plus taxes).

The program is particularly aimed at those Gig Economy workers who juggle several platforms for their assignments. GM is positioning Maven Gig as “a low-risk way to test the freelance economy and maximize earning potential by transitioning between multiple on-demand services.”

The company also says its continuing to experiment with pricing and will adjust offerings based on the gig economy and driver needs.

As restaurants increasingly rely on on-demand delivery apps to provide a new revenue stream and supplement in-dining experiences, GM is betting that companies will rush to find ways to make it easier to build constant sources of delivery people.

“Freelancers in the sharing economy want flexibility and Maven Gig is a seamless way to maximize opportunities,” said Rachel Bhattacharya, director of Commercial Mobility Strategy for Maven. “If the driver has a lull on one service they can easily flip to another and keep hustling.”

 

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