Snapchat’s ‘Crazy Engaged’ Users Can’t Resist a Message From Taco Bell

Brands see success despite marketing in the dark

Taco Bell’s Nicholas Tran said Snapchat followers are “crazy engaged.” When the brand sends a Snap, 90 percent of friends who open a message view it in its entirety, and these can be five-minute-long digital photo-video collages, he added.

Taco Bell has more than 200,000 friends on the app, but it doesn’t know the exact amount, which speaks to the fact that brands are still marketing in the dark there. 

Taco Bell was among the early brands to join and test the potential for reaching its young crowd, almost 30 million users strong, according to the latest reported figures.

“The platform is one of the most engaging places for us to play,” Tran said. He estimated that up to 80 percent of Taco Bell’s followers open its Snaps (90 percent of whom view them in their entirety). Snaps can be simple photos set to self-destruct within seconds or they can be Snapchat Stories, an amalgam of messages, photos and videos that run for minutes and are available for rewatching over a 24-hour period.

It’s this kind of exposure that is bringing brands to Snapchat and other messaging apps like Line and Kik, which are energizing marketing teams with the ability to directly inject content where users are spending more of their time.

Funny or Die recently said it gets a 10 percent click rate on its promoted messages on Kik, compared to a 0.5 percent rate on posts to Facebook and Twitter.

MTV said it has about 225,000 Snapchat followers—similar to Taco Bell—and this month released its Video Music Award nominees on the app.

Taco Bell will lean on Snapchat—among other channels like Facebook and YouTube—to promote its new $1 menu with a campaign that kicks off next week.

Brands testing Snapchat have developed close relationships with the Los Angeles startup. A report this week said Snapchat would build ad and news delivery services into the platform to help spread media and marketing material.

Some marketing insiders have said such tools are desperately needed because there are still drawbacks to the platform. For now, brands can’t easily access data to measure the reach of their Snaps. Also, it’s hard for users to find corporate accounts and follow brands because there is no search capability. Like Tran says, they don’t even have an exact count of friends.

“We never know how many we have,” he said.

Marketing teams are looking for at least a basic layer of support. Brands want to know how many fans and impressions they accrue.

“From a brand perspective, they need a robust back end with more control and visibility into campaigns on Snapchat,” an executive at a rival messaging company said.

For now, accounts like Taco Bell and MTV get some reporting from Snapchat, which essentially hand delivers any data it cares to share. Tran says Snapchat is very responsive, and marketers expect the company to become more brand-focused as it matures from the user growth phase to the moneymaking stage.

“We’ll see a paid media model from Snapchat in the next six to 12 months,” one marketing insider said.

A number of ad and media industry executives have said they are in close talks with Snapchat about plans to commercialize the platform.

“All indications are it’s very legit,” one agency executive said. “There’s been some documentation that the number of Snaps per day is comparable to tweets per day.”