Snapchat’s new Context Cards use Snaps for spontaneous discovery


Snapchat is introducing a new feature that will transform the experience of using the apps at a fundamental level. They’re called ‘Context Cards,’ and they’re new ways to find out more info about any Snap shared by users, providing access to things like restaurant reviews, reservations, Uber and Lyft ride hailing, contact information and more.

This is where Snapchat has a chance to turn its every day user engagement into a real world discovery and marketing platform that could potentially rival Yelp in terms of serendipitous discovery, and driving marketing value for restaurants, venues and destinations starting from a place of true interest, rather than approaching it from the perspective of providing a resource only to people already seeking that kind of info.

The new Context Cards work similar to how Snapchat’s marketing tools work for existing paid campaigns now, which can do things like offer up links to stories for publishers when users swipe up in their stories. You’ll see the same “More” link at the bottom of stories you’re watching, but when you swipe up, they’ll have info automatically populated from Snap’s partners on Context Cards, which include TripAdvisor, Foursquare, Michelin, Goop, OpenTable, Uber, Lyft and more.

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This isn’t going to appear in every Snap, however, lest you were worried that Snapchat was turning every single post on its platform into a marketing tool. Instead, it’ll include those that have been tagged with the company’s venue-specific Geofilters, or with any Snap that’s been submitted to the public ‘Our Story’ feed and that appears in Snap Map or Search.

Context Cards appear in a feed-like waterfall, with the first providing basic info including the name and category, as well as ratings sourced from partners including TripAdvisor and Foursquare. Other cards include more detailed user reviews, directions, operating hours, phone numbers, ride hailing options, reservations and additional Snaps from the same area submitted by other Snapchat users.

Snapchat’s Context Cards are bound to be a big deal for the company and the platform – they’re a new way for Snap to drum up business, for one, and they’re also just starting out, with plenty of potential to grow in future. Snap has positioned itself as a ‘camera company’ in the past, and this turns its camera into a visual-first contextual marketing platform.

It’s almost like Google’s contextual search-based advertising but for the visual world. How successful it will be, however, will rely a lot of Snap’s ability to grow its platform and deepen this product without distracting too much from the appeal of its core product to users.