Of the thousands of images and videos that will digitally flow out of New York Fashion Week, some of the most valuable to brands are vanishing — by design. Snapchat might have gotten its start as a platform to exchange seminaked selfies that then disappeared in seconds, but it’s morphed into an increasingly important outlet for fashion biggies such as Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton and Burberry who use it to tell their brand stories.
This story first appeared in the February 12, 2016 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The secret is engagement and a very broad appeal. Hollister, Rebecca Minkoff and Carolina Herrera — each from a very different wing of fashion — all have Snapchat initiatives planned this week.
“You dive into these stories — it’s not in reverse chronological order. You are not scrolling back. You tap in and whether it’s your friends or a Live Story, you see it as it happens,” Juan David Borrero, Snapchat’s senior partnerships manager.
Unlike its peers, Snapchat is not a feed-centric app. When a user opens the app they don’t start off in a feed, they start off with a camera. And from there, a user can opt to view friends’ Stories or any of the Live Stories, including the NYFW Live Story, which will collect and present pictures and videos submitted by thousands of Snapchat users at the shows that will remain live for 24 hours.
Borrero, who handles partnerships across the app’s products — from Live Stories to official accounts to Discover channels — worked with Dior to create a Live Story surrounding the brand’s elaborate destination cruise show in Cannes this past May. He called this an “editorial decision,” explaining that neither this nor the Live Story dedicated to Louis Vuitton’s resort show in Palm Springs were sponsored partnerships. But for Burberry, which had its own Live Story during London Fashion Week in September, the collaboration was part editorial and part sponsored as Burberry joined Snapchat as an advertiser within its story.
While cagey with fashion-industry specifics, the company has said in the past that Live Stories can get 10 million to 20 million views over the 24-hour period they remain viewable on the app. An industry source told WWD: “When Louis Vuitton did their resort show in Palm Springs, that Live Story — in 24 hours — had 13 million views. That’s more than the finale of a Simon Cowell show.”
Those views came from users who are actively engaged. Tech companies make a habit of throwing around stats detailing huge numbers of users, clicks and impressions, but Snapchat’s audience has an unusually direct link to the content, this source said. That makes it particularly valuable to brands trying to get their message to consumers — and an ideal medium for a visual event like a fashion show.
When a Snap or Live Story is seen by millions, that means that millions of people actively chose to view that video. On Instagram, a user might easily scroll by a post. On Snapchat, they must opt to play a Live Story to be counted as a view, similar to YouTube.
Borrero said fashion-related stories are on the rise. Among the heaviest users are Rebecca Minkoff, Burberry, Nasty Gal, Victoria’s Secret, Dior and Louis Vuitton.
Nick Bell, head of content at Snapchat, attributed the popularity of fashion content to Live product allowing users to see events from many perspectives. Now New York Fashion Week can be viewed from the lens of the photographer, the makeup artist, the model, the designer, the publicist, the buyer, the journalist, passersby on the street and more if they post a snap and submit it to the NYFW Live Story.
Bell said Snapchat overlays filters and text beside Live Story content to provide extra context for viewers.
Minkoff, who was one of the first brands to embrace the app, worked with Snapchat to create a dedicated Fashion Week filter this season.
“There’s a migration to the images being raw, it’s really now,” said Minkoff of the pictures on Snapchat. “We love Instagram and it’s our most successful platform, but there’s something to be said about capturing something in the moment that’s only visible for 24 hours.”
Minkoff said the ephemeral nature of posts and stories is a draw, something akin to limited-edition fashions or accessories.
Snapchat has 100 million daily active users viewing more than seven billion videos a day, up from two billion videos in May. More than 60 percent of U.S. smartphone owners ages 13 to 34 identify as Snapchatters and 60 percent of daily users create content every day.
There are three advertising opportunities for marketers. The first is buying ad space within any the platform’s Live Stories, which chronicle live events, or Discover channels, a hub of dedicated channels for content publishers such as MTV, People, Buzzfeed, Vox, Cosmopolitan, CNN, Vice, ESPN, National Geographic and more.
The other two advertising products are sponsored geo filters and sponsored lenses. For instance, Gatorade launched a Sponsored Len on Feb. 7 for 48 hours that allowed users to experience a Gatorade Shower and capture it via photo or video. Snapchat also counts Coca-Cola, GE, Samsung and the NFL as advertisers, and this week just revealed a multiyear deal with Viacom.
Snapchat declined to reveal how much an ad costs, but it’s rumored that an ad on, for example, Cosmopolitan’s Discover page can cost $1 million for an advertiser. And while percentages vary, parties are paid via a revenue share model where Snapchat and whoever owns the channel get a cut. The same goes for Live Stories — IMG, Snapchat’s official partner for NYFW Live Story, will split advertising revenues with the messaging platform. Confirmed advertising partners for Fashion Week’s Live Story, which will run on Saturday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, include Maybelline, Tory Burch and Neiman Marcus.
Snapchat is also lucrative for the influencers who have active snap accounts. According to a source with knowledge of the industry, bloggers can be paid anywhere from a few thousand dollars to $50,000 for featuring a brand in Snaps or taking over a brand’s account for the day. The upper end of that range is only on the table if the blogger is getting at least one million views per story.
With that kind of money in play, Snapchat, unlike it’s content, seems to be here to stay.