Innovative Tech Entrepreneur Looks To Monetize Social Chatting Innovative Tech Entrepreneur Looks To Monetize Social Chatting While it seems virtually every screen we interact with has become fodder for advertisers, tech entrepreneur, Vivian Rosenthal, found white space somewhere obvious, the chat box. “People are already spending all their times in messaging channels, and now brands are playing catch up to put themselves into the conversation,” says Rosenthal, a forward-thinking tech entrepreneur with a background in architecture. “We are providing technology for brands to enter a channel where there are already billions of users.” Rosenthal’s platform, Snaps, is billed as the first brand marketing platform for mobile messaging. She asserts that with Snaps, everyday people who are chatting with friends can become brand ambassadors simply by sending an emoji. Since 2014 Snaps has been making branded stickers and emoticons for more than 100 brands like Nike Jordan, Coca Cola, Viacom, L’Oréal, Coach, Burger King, Toyota, Dove, Dunkin’ Donuts, Sephora, and Macy’s, as well as celebrities like Kevin Hart, looking to get into the branded emoji game (a la Kim Kardashian’s Kimoji line, which famously crashed the app store when it was released. “For us it’s really about being the go-to solution for brands that need to find a compelling strategy and tech platform to reach millennials in the messaging space,” says Rosenthal. “We are looking to drive powerful experiences for clients and consumers and exploring further investment from different verticals in different brands.” “When we decided to make KEVMOJI, all I knew is that we had to do something no one else was doing,” says Kevin Hart about his move into the branded emoticon space. “So here we are, literally changing the face of iMessage by creating a real experience through emojis and stickers, rather than in animation. With the launch of iOS 10, my production team, HartBeat Digital along with Snaps, is revolutionizing the kind of content I’m able to share with my fans.” With a combined network of more than 2 billion global users and over 120 keyboards in the market to-date, Snaps has three different product suites; a branded keyboard, branded stickers, and Facebook Messenger chat bots on Slack and Kick, Imessage. Because of the nature of sending branded emojis, Rosenthal says the overall affect for advertisers is surprisingly effective, as it opt-in for consumers. Rather than bracing for or ignoring a pop-up ad you might see on Facebook, customers tend to engage more authentically in the messaging space. “It’s very different than traditional social ads,” says Rosenthal. “You will not see ads like in your Instagram feed. Instead, you unlock your sticker pack and opt to send a Starbucks emoji to a friend. It’s someone raising their hand saying ‘I want to be a brand ambassador.’ The engagement has been so meaningful because it’s opt-in, peer-to-peer sharing. Because of that it’s [a recommendation that has] been vetted, pre approved.” There has been much discussion as to whether or not social media ads are successful, and the overall belief is that in order for them to work there must be authentic engagement. In addition, ads that work on mobile tend to be even more effective. While there has been some question as to whether or no branded keyboards are working to increase sales for brands, there is no shortage of corporations trying their hands at it. In 2016 alone almost 300 companies launched their own versions of emoji keyboards. “There has been a huge movement away from the traditional broadcast model of social into a more private messaging channel,” says Rosenthal. “With chatbots, the opportunity out there is really powerful. One-to-one marketing in scale can reach millions, but it’s still a personal experience. It offers the ability to reach out and touch someone in a way you can’t do in social.” Since this is still relatively virgin territory in terms of monetization, Rosenthal says the long-term goal is to eventually bring shopping directly into messaging. “One one hand you can look at it as pure brand engagement and on the other hand, we are seeing some clients looking to drive commerce,” says Rosenthal. “Going from conversation to commerce is the promise of messaging. That’s the direction we’re going in.” Rosenthal, who originally started her company as an AR platform, said she realized she was ahead of her time in terms of customer understanding and usage. She says the idea was originally centered on virtual pop up stores and geosense, which were very appealing to brands and retailers but premature for consumers. “One of the things that I learned through this whole thing is that there’s this thing called product market fit, which means, is the timing in the market right for what you’re trying to create,” says Rosenthal. “The AP platform was really early. We saw it come to live with Pokémon Go and that was four years later, goes to show you can have a good idea, but it could be too early to market. It was a great lesson and I ended up pivoting the action into the messaging space, as data supported that’s where people are spending all their time. I learned first-hand what it meant to have something too soon for customer adoption.” “And then we pivoted into messaging, which is the opposite,” says Rosenthal. “The consumer adoption is already there.” “We’ve seen brands on our platform use the messaging space in an impactful way to drive ROI, which depending which vertical, has different key metrics,” says Rosenthal. “Because the messaging space is quite fragmented, they need to have a strategy for each different one. They need to do a lot of things concurrently. We saw this in social. Now we are seeing the same kind of thing happening in the messaging space.” Belisa Silva Belisa is an editor with more than 10 years of experience. Prior to SWAAY, she worked as freelance writer, covering lifestyle, fashion and beauty industries. Belisa was a Market Editor at Women's Wear Daily for five years, where she interviewed rockstar business women like Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Lopez and Iman. Belisa also contributes to Cosmetic Executive Women, where she highlights female executives making an impact in the beauty industry.