Snapchat’s Context Cards turn Snaps into location-based search queries

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Snapchat continues to flip location-based search on its head. Earlier this year, Snapchat turned people’s Snaps into a spin on Google Maps’ Street View. Now the mobile app is converting them into queries.

On Tuesday, Snapchat rolled out a feature called Context Cards that enables people to access information about a venue tagged in a photo or video posted to the app. For example, a Snap may tag a restaurant, and a person viewing the Snap will be able to swipe up to get its address and directions, see reviews from Foursquare and book a reservation through OpenTable. Or a Snap may be included in a Snapchat-curated Our Story about a local harvest festival, and a person viewing it will be able swipe up to hail a Lyft ride to check it out in person.

Snapchat is working with several companies that will provide the information presented in Context Cards. Those companies include Foursquare, Goop, Michelin and TripAdvisor for maps, location information and reviews; Lyft and Uber for ride-hailing options; and Bookatable, OpenTable and Resy for restaurant reservations.

Snapchat will automatically attach Context Cards to people’s Snaps that carry a corresponding geofilter naming the venue, and Snapchat will also add Context Cards to Snaps submitted to company-curated Our Stories, which people can view on the app’s Stories tab or through its search results and Snap Maps feature. For now, Context Cards will only show up for people using Snapchat’s apps in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Snapchat will not insert ads within Context Cards, according to a spokesperson for Snapchat’s parent company, Snap. The spokesperson declined to say whether advertisers will be able to attach Context Cards to Snapchat’s other ad products, such as its Snap Ads and Sponsored Lenses.

“Anytime you can connect people with what interests them and connect them with more information and more opportunities, there’s usually a business there. But it’s just so early, I think there’s a lot of work to do first,” Snap CEO Evan Spiegel told the Financial Times in an interview connected to the launch of Context Cards.

While Snapchat may not yet be making money from Context Cards, it’s not hard to see how it eventually could. Since Context Cards are effectively a Geofilter, Snapchat could combine them with its Sponsored Geofilters. For example, a restaurant chain running a Sponsored Geofilter around its locations could have those filters carry a Context Card. Then, when a person adds the Sponsored Geofilter to their Snap, people viewing the Snap would not only be exposed to the brand but also be able to swipe up to get more information about the restaurant, and even book a table.

About The Author

Tim Peterson, Third Door Media’s Social Media Reporter, has been covering the digital marketing industry since 2011. He has reported for Advertising Age, Adweek and Direct Marketing News. A born-and-raised Angeleno who graduated from New York University, he currently lives in Los Angeles. He has broken stories on Snapchat’s ad plans, Hulu founding CEO Jason Kilar’s attempt to take on YouTube and the assemblage of Amazon’s ad-tech stack; analyzed YouTube’s programming strategy, Facebook’s ad-tech ambitions and ad blocking’s rise; and documented digital video’s biggest annual event VidCon, BuzzFeed’s branded video production process and Snapchat Discover’s ad load six months after launch. He has also developed tools to monitor brands’ early adoption of live-streaming apps, compare Yahoo’s and Google’s search designs and examine the NFL’s YouTube and Facebook video strategies.


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