Snap cashes in as grads cel­e­brate with ge­ofil­ters

Pur­chases of the Snapchat graphic fea­ture have surged.

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS - paresh.dave@la­times.com

Ann Bev­erly had eyed a set of golf clubs as a col­lege grad­u­a­tion gift for her son. In an im­pulse buy dur­ing com­mence­ment, though, she just had to tack on some­thing else.

She was brows­ing on her smart­phone — not on Ama­zon.com or Face­book, but on Snapchat — when up popped a small graphic con­grat­u­lat­ing some other Chico State stu­dent on grad­u­at­ing.

Bev­erly, a Snapchat user since her chil­dren in­tro­duced her to it three years ago, knew that the mes­sag­ing app of­fered graphics to dec­o­rate pho­tos and videos. But she hadn’t known that she could up­load her own artsy stamps. Bev­erly im­me­di­ately wanted to make a graphic that would cel­e­brate her son Parker that day and be avail­able for any­one nearby to af­fix to their Snapchat mes­sages. It ended up cost­ing her $27.

She was far from the only one this grad­u­a­tion sea­son to re­al­ize the briefly avail­able graphics, which Snapchat calls ge­ofil­ters, can be a prize for a gen­er­a­tion of young adults who’ve grown up com­pet­ing for so­cial media likes, hash­tags and friend­ships. To them, vir­tual nov­el­ties are as es­sen­tial at grad­u­a­tion as posters, funny caps and pur­ple or­chid leis.

In the year since Snapchat be­gan wel­com­ing ge­ofil­ters, paid sub­mis­sions have in­creased to tens of thou­sands per day. Graphics tied to wed­dings and birthdays are the most pop­u­lar. But graduations, with 15% of the pur­chases, claimed the No. 2 spot from birthdays last month, ac­cord­ing to data from Snapchat’s tem­plate li­brary. About half of users de­sign from tem­plates pro­vided by Snap Inc., with the rest turn­ing to their own skills or con­trac­tors found online.

Busi­nesses use ge­ofil­ters to at­tract cus­tomers. But it’s a form of ad­ver­tis­ing of­fered to or­di­nary users too, giv­ing peo­ple a chance to call at­ten­tion to them­selves or loved ones.

“He’s 23 and was thrilled,” Bev­erly said of her son. “It was heaven for him to have his own fil­ter. We got so many com­ments from friends and fam­ily who viewed it say­ing, oh my gosh, how did you do that?”

Some plan ahead. Lili­beth Tor­res started on a

Snapchat graphic to sur­prise her grad­u­at­ing friend a week out. It fea­tured a draw­ing of her friend Ar­turo, adorned in cap and sash, with a di­ploma and cash float­ing about. Tor­res, who is study­ing graphic de­sign at San Jose State, spent about four hours craft­ing the look.

“I wanted to do some­thing cool, but not over the top,” she said.

Buy­ers must set the time-and-lo­ca­tion avail­abil­ity for sub­mis­sions, with greater vis­i­bil­ity in­creas­ing the cost to about $500 for an en­tire town for an evening. Tor­res’ ge­ofil­ter cost $10 for five hours over three small ar­eas. The graphic drew more than 1,000 views.

Gabriella Per­alta or­dered a ge­ofil­ter for her­self the night be­fore grad­u­a­tion when she re­al­ized she had de­vised a great tag line, “Grad and Bou­jee,” a play on her nick­name Gab and the ti­tle of a hip-hop song. In the Cal State Stanis­laus grad’s eyes, that ge­ofil­ter cre­ated a way by which peo­ple could re­mem­ber her.

“It’s cool to have the spot­light on you,” she said. “I spent four years at Stan mak­ing a name for my­self and it felt fit­ting to do that at grad­u­a­tion too. I like to leave my mark on the world.”

Per­alta, who re­ceived a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in com­mu­ni­ca­tion stud­ies and works at the cam­pus gym, ac­crued 86 uses of her ge­ofil­ter over five hours last month. More than 7,700 peo­ple saw the graphic, ac­cord­ing to Snap data.

She com­mis­sioned it for $10 from de­signer Snap­pyDaysCo through the crafts app Etsy. It cost an ad­di­tional $6.65 to make it avail­able at the school’s arena and a nearby Ital­ian restaurant where she held a party.

Bev­erly, who learned of cus­tomized ge­ofil­ters as she sat through nearly 2,000 stu­dent names being an­nounced, searched on Google for how to make one. It led her to Snapchat’s web­site be­cause the app it­self doesn’t have a sub­mis­sion tool. She logged in through her iPhone, chose a con­fet­ti­filled tem­plate and, with some as­sis­tance from her daugh­ter, had a “Con­grat­u­la­tions, Parker” sticker avail­able long be­fore the fi­nal stu­dent’s name was called. All de­signs must be approved by Snap, and Bev­erly’s got the OK within 15 min­utes.

The Los Gatos, Calif., mother said she would have spent as much as $100 to honor her son on Snapchat, but set­tled on $27 to run the ge­ofil­ter from 6 p.m. to mid­night in the Chico nightlife cor­ri­dor where they barhopped. They slyly sur­prised the grad­u­ate by tak­ing a pic­ture and then hav­ing him browse the ge­ofil­ters. It was used 190 times in all.

Bev­erly’s only re­gret: not buy­ing an ex­tra hour.

By the time the fam­ily made it to the wa­ter­ing hole known as the Bear, the ge­ofil­ter had ex­pired and her son was dis­ap­pointed he couldn’t add it there.

It’s un­clear how much revenue Snap de­rives from users’ ge­ofil­ter or­ders be­cause the Los Angeles com­pany doesn’t break down sales by cat­e­gory. But at 10,000 or­ders a day at a min­i­mum of $5, the fea­ture would bring in more than $18 mil­lion, or about 2% of the $992 mil­lion in revenue an­a­lysts ex­pect Snap to gen­er­ate this year.

Snap has the market cor­nered for now. In­sta­gram, its main com­pe­ti­tion, de­clined to say when it might launch a sim­i­lar fea­ture for users to sub­mit fil­ters.

Mean­while, Snap is expanding its tem­plate li­brary to pro­mote ge­ofil­ter cre­ation for beach par­ties, Fourth of July gath­er­ings and bach­e­lorette and bach­e­lor es­capes.

It’s also sign­ing part­ner­ships to get the word out about its fea­ture. Event­plan­ning ser­vices in­clud­ing Wed­dingWire and Event Farm re­cently be­gan of­fer­ing ge­ofil­ters as part of their pack­ages, pro­vid­ing tem­plates de­signed by brands such as Domino’s pizza and Lilly Pulitzer.

Buy­ers say ge­ofil­ters aren’t a fad. Tor­res, for ex­am­ple, al­ready looks for­ward to some­one mak­ing one for her grad­u­a­tion next year.

Lo­gan Lorenz and Payal Pa­tel, a pair of Santa Mon­ica tech in­dus­try workers who married this month, said they spent about $250 on two ge­ofil­ters for their trop­i­calthemed wed­ding. They also had ge­ofil­ters for smaller events be­fore the wed­ding, in­clud­ing an en­gage­ment last year, and they have no plans to stop.

“We’ll prob­a­bly do them for ev­ery party,” Lorenz said.

But there may be a point where it be­comes all too much, some worry. The fil­ter op­tions are al­ready be­com­ing over­whelm­ing at pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions.

What’s cer­tain is they don’t re­place tra­di­tional gifts. Bev­erly says she’s still work­ing on get­ting her son those new golf clubs.

Gianna Luc­chetti By Paresh Dave

GABRIELLA PER­ALTA, left, and Haylee Crews in a Snapchat post with a ge­ofil­ter Per­alta de­signed.

Ann Bev­erly

PARKER BEV­ERLY, cen­ter, with Kel­lie Naples, left, and sis­ter Lau­ren in a selfie with his ge­ofil­ter.

Brenda Martinez

LILI­BETH TOR­RES de­signed a ge­ofil­ter for friend Ar­turo. “I wanted to do some­thing cool,” she says.

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