APOS: Perspectives on the advertising economy & role of video

APOS: Perspectives on the advertising economy & role of video

This session explores a one-on-one conversation with Snap Inc president APAC Ajit Mohan.

APAC Ajit Mohan

Mumbai: APOS, the defining voice and global platform for the Asia Pacific media and telecoms industry, took place from 26-28 September 2023, at the Ayana Estate in Bali, Indonesia.

Created & curated by Media Partners Asia, APOS is the ultimate destination for deals, partnerships and thought leadership with a focus on content, connectivity and commerce sectors.

APOS was established in 2010 and is attended by global, local, and regional industry leaders.

In a one-on-one conversation with Snap Inc president APAC Ajit Mohan on ‘Perspectives on The Advertising Economy & Role of Video’, here are his views on the same.

On the topic of significant changes, Mohan said, “I believe that Snap represents a major shift in how people, especially younger generations, communicate. It's evident in the creative world and the essence of authentic and private communication it offers, which is increasingly valuable in today's world.

Snap is currently at a pivotal stage in its journey as a 12-year-old company with a substantial and rapidly growing community of around 750 million users. This community predominantly consists of younger individuals who grasp the value proposition. However, we haven't yet built a business that matches the scale of this community.”

When asked about the exciting opportunities, Mohan replied, “I see an exciting opportunity in this part of the world, where I believe the next phase of innovation for the company can originate. Asia holds great potential, and I'm enthusiastic about what lies ahead for both Snap and our community.

On APAC, Mohan said, “Our focus on APAC over the past four to five years has primarily centered on Australia, India, and Japan, with limited exposure to China. However, we are now gaining traction in countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia. As a relatively smaller company competing with tech giants and media conglomerates, my priority over the next 12 to 18 months is to ensure the sustained growth we've witnessed in these regions.

For instance, in India, we've gone from zero to 200 million users in just two and a half years once the community grasped the visual, fun, and highly private nature of our platform. It's clear that when our proposition resonates, and we achieve a certain scale, growth takes off.”

On the other markets in the world, Mohan said, “My objective is to replicate this success in regions like Europe, the US, Southeast Asia, and North Asia. Much of our current efforts are focused on product localization and tailoring our approach for the specific needs of each community. Deeply localizing our proposition, while challenging, is a crucial step in our journey. This approach sets us apart from other tech companies and aligns with our commitment to delivering value to diverse audiences across the globe. Exciting developments are unfolding in Asia as we work towards these goals.”

On revisiting the fundamental essence of why Snap makes sense, Mohan said, “It all begins with our unique concept—the app opening to the camera, enabling users to authentically express themselves within a close-knit circle of friends and family. This emphasis on privacy and authenticity sets us apart and was conceived as a counterbalance to traditional social media.”

He went on to add, “This starting point has spurred much of our innovation around cameras and lenses. Younger generations use the camera as their primary mode of communication, creating lenses and augmenting their visuals to engage throughout the day.”

Earlier this year, we introduced an AI Chatbot experiment, My AI, in the messaging context. Surprisingly, over 150 million users quickly embraced this service. It revealed that people not only desire interactions with friends and family but also value conversational AI that harnesses the potential of advanced language models.

On venturing into the AR, Mohan stated, “We've also ventured into the realm of dreams, where Augmented Reality (AR) takes center stage. With approximately 250 million Snapchatters actively using AR, we possess one of the world's largest AR communities. Recent developments in AI have presented exciting opportunities, such as creating stylized images of oneself and collaborating with friends in this creative process.”

He further added, “In this context, it's essential to understand that AI and machine learning have evolved beyond mere content matching. While technology and media companies have historically used tech for content recommendation, we've reached a stage where we're redefining the conversation. Our innovation revolves around enhancing the user experience within our beloved community, leveraging advances like conversational chatbots and general AI capabilities to keep the conversation authentic and engaging.”

Snapchat's AR features have revealed an interesting trend, particularly among our younger user demographic. Many of them use AR to virtually try on clothing and shoes, suggesting a strong appetite for this kind of interactive experience. Consequently, numerous brands are engaging with our community to bring these try-on experiences to Snapchat.

Our decision to explore taking these capabilities beyond the platform aligns with our ongoing investments in AR. We recognize that this opens up various possibilities for us to explore.

We've reached a significant milestone in terms of the size and loyalty of our community. With a strong focus on privacy and authenticity, especially catering to the younger demographic prevalent in this region, we've established ourselves as an innovative platform. However, we acknowledge that we've been somewhat less successful in building a robust monetization engine around it. Over the past two years, we've been working diligently on improving performance and optimizing the platform for advertisers. We've seen early positive results, and given the rapid innovation happening in this region, we're optimistic about the growth opportunities.

Our strategic approach involves diversifying our revenue streams. The launch of Snapchat Plus, a subscription service offering early access to products and features, has exceeded our expectations, recently surpassing five million subscribers. Additionally, we're exploring opportunities in the ever-evolving retail and e-commerce landscape. Our community, primarily aged 30 to 34, is open to discovering new categories and products, making us well-positioned to tap into the thriving retail and e-commerce industry catering to millennials.

Our key priorities and pillars of growth for 2024 are as follows:

Maintain Momentum: We aim to sustain the impressive momentum we've achieved in countries where we've rapidly gained traction, such as India and Australia. This includes continuing to scale up our business, which is part of our global agenda.

Focus on APAC Agenda: The Asia-Pacific (APAC) region presents unique opportunities and challenges. We have a specific agenda for APAC, recognising its importance in our global strategy.

Learning from Industry Leaders: We see valuable learning opportunities from experts in both the media and tech industries, many of whom are present in this room. Collaborating and gaining insights from industry leaders will be instrumental in our growth strategy.

Expanding to New Territories: With a strong foundation in place, we intend to carefully select new markets, such as Indonesia, Vietnam, Korea, and the Philippines, where we can introduce the magic of the Snapchat community and grow our presence.