Snapchat's latest feature isn't just another bell and whistle. By adding the ability to store images and videos, experts say it can not only increase time spent on platform, but ensure that people keep coming back.
"It becomes more of a destination if you were to access those photos," said Paul Munkholm, director of strategy and partner at digital agency Kettle. "It increases time spent on platform. Advertisers, that's catnip to them."
Snapchat said on Wednesday it was adding a feature called Memories that would allow users to save and search their previous snaps. Prior to this, the platform has been known for its disappearing photos and videos, which erase after they are viewed. The company said it added the feature after numerous user requests, and it would gradually be released to all users.
"You see the same feature happening across platforms from Google Photos to Facebook On This Day," said Paul Feiner, marketing lead at The Big Know, a marketing company. "It is about the product team at Snapchat wanting to create a long-term relationship."
Feiner sees Memories not only as a way to get users to continue using the platform, but as a way to get more people — especially older demographics — to use the service. The appeal of Snapchat's disappearing photos may have been lost on some, but Memories, which is much more like traditional digital photo apps, fixes that. The more that Snapchat gets referenced in news and culture, the more people feel like they should try it, he pointed out.
"They start to see it on TV and movies, and they start to get the sense of missing out," Feiner said.
Most importantly, increasing time on app and expanding the user base can makes Snapchat a stronger competitor with traditional leaders Google and Facebook for digital media ad dollars.
Kettle's Munkholm said what especially makes Snapchat a potential threat is that it's created a new form of advertising.
"I really see Instagram plummeting in the next few years," he said. "I don't know anyone who has engaged with ads on Instagram the way they have engaged with branded features on Snapchat."
Sponsored Lenses (photo and video filters) allow users to create their own snaps using marketer's content, which can be more appealing than a traditional ad because it is created by a friend. If users are able to save these branded snaps, Munkholm said, it can turn a fleeting picture into a lasting ad they'll look at over and over again.
"Instagram ads should feel like something so unique and special to Instagram," he said. "If they could crack that, they could definitely be great. [Instead], it went from a print ad to a banner ad to an Instagram ad. It's sort of all the same."
But, The Big Know's Feiner argues that Snapchat's Memories isn't unique to the platform. While Snapchat boasts a large millennial audience — it says the majority of its more than 100 million daily users are under 35 — Facebook and Instagram still have massive reach. Facebook has 1.09 billion users a day, while Instagram says 300 million use the app on a daily basis.
"Snapchat is following Facebook," Feiner said. "If something is really hooking people and working there, that's going to be something to follow. And, Facebook and also Instagram, if they want to reach millennials, they certainly still can."