Is Snapchat considering an expansion into contextual search as a way to experiment with new promising features?
Snapchat is not ready to surrender from the continuous effort to stay competitive and although a battle with Facebook and Instagram may be hard, it is still examining new paths to expand, hoping to maintain its relevance.
Snapchat is buying Vurb
According to The Information, Snapchat is about to buy Vurb for more than $100 million, flirting with personalised mobile search.
The deal is rumoured to include both cash and stock options, leading up to $200 million for the purchase of the winner of TechCrunch Disrupt of 2014.
Although Snapchat doesn’t usually confirm all its moves, Business Insider has confirmed the deal, which means that it’s time to learn more about Vurb and why Snapchat paid this sum to acquire it.
What we need to know about Vurb
Vurb is a personalised search and recommendation app that compiles data from many different apps in order to facilitate the mobile search function for users in the most simple and personalised way.
It sounds like a mobile version of Google’s Knowledge Graph, but in a more appealing way, including more options.
Vurb is promoting its app with the phrase: “search less, do more”, which shows its focus on tailored searches full of rich content and personalised recommendations.
It’s an app that lets users read reviews before planning a movie night, get directions through Google Maps, request an Uber ride, or make a reservation to their favourite restaurant.
What’s more, it is also offering dynamic and shareable lists named Vurb Decks as a personalised curation of a user’s favourite places and interests. While Vurb Chat enhances communication and once again makes the sharing of any type of information easy and functional.
The focus on community is shown by the ability to follow recommendations from influencers and friends, while the Today tab that was recently introduced allows people to stay up-to-date with the latest worldwide trends, again depending on their interests.
Last but not least, search results are prioritised depending on the user’s personal preferences, the location, the time, or even the local weather.
It feels like a competitor for Google Now, or Siri, but now it’s up to Snapchat to decide how to use this technology.
How Snapchat could use Vurb’s concept
- Adding search: the contextual search function in Snapchat’s platform can offer numerous new opportunities and we’d love to see its evolution with such an addition
- Going local: the personalised search results based on interests, but also the location of each user may lead to further integration of localised marketing. How about snaps that activate “Vurbs” from local businesses?
- Improving chat: chat communication can become more interesting and certainly more functional, with the integration of Vurb’s concept, leading to further engagement among passionate Snapchat users, since they may be able to book any reservation directly from their favourite platform.
- Boost discovery function: new Snapchat users tend to complain about the lack of proper discovery among friends and celebrities, at least not in the way they may do in other social networks, and Vurb’s personalised discovery could contribute towards the improvement of this problem.
- Creating its own bots: what if Snapchat created its own bots, following Messenger’s plans, to integrate Vurb with its chat app to help both users and brands?
- Boosting engagement: Snapchat was already proud of its highly engaged audience that visits the app daily and this could grow even more if Snapchat users were able to perform more actions directly through the app.
- Increasing conversion: Snapchat is focusing on the Discover section lately, hoping it can attract more brands to its platform, while helping users find interesting snaps. Vurb may be a very useful addition for this direction, as it may increase the conversion rate, for example, blending the curation of snaps from a movie premiere, with the ability to purchase your tickets through the app. How does that sound?
- Geo-ads monetisation: We are unsure whether Snapchat is thinking towards this direction (at least for the time being), but it would be an interesting idea to see localised results featuring relevant advertising from nearby businesses. This could be very appealing for many business owners trying to approach a demanding target audience, enticing more brands to join the platform.
Snapchat gets serious
All the above suggestions on how Snapchat could use Vurb offer an indication of how such an acquisition may open new paths for the popular social platform, but yet, we are still waiting for Snapchat to make any official announcement, or even to present a new technology in the near future that could hint the integration of Vurb.
In case you’re still wondering whether the addition of Vurb was a good idea for Snapchat, here’s a title found on Vurb’s blog regarding its app, which I personally found as the best summary on what Snapchat sees in the particular app:
“The Next Step for Mobile Search: Community, Content, and Personalized Recommendations”
We cannot predict what the future holds for both the apps, but what we can tell is that Snapchat is probably heading in the right direction, trying to stand out with its own unique features while evolving them to maintain its relevance.
It won’t be easy in the next months (not even to mention the next years), but such acquisitions indicate that it is becoming serious about its future and its usefulness, both for users and brands. And this is a good sign.