At the beginning of September, Snap Inc appointed Jake Thomas as the Head of UAE operations. This comes as the company rapidly expands its local partner ecosystem and seeks to deliver more opportunities to consumers and brands than ever before. Communicate spoke with Thomas to understand how he plans to grow the company’s vision in the region.
You joined Snap when they had just set up base in the UAE. Could you illustrate your journey with the brand in a few words?
I’ve been in the MENA region for the past eight years. I joined Snap three and a half years ago as one of the first hires in the region. The scale and depth of engagement with Snapchat across MENA and the opportunity to help build a business for one of the most innovative and creative brands in the world were the key drivers for me joining Snap. My role has been focused on building the Snap MENA advertising business and working with agencies and brands to unlock the potential of Snapchat’s audience. Snap has successfully created many of the current standards in mobile communication, including vertical video, stories, and AR tools. However, we’re still only scratching the surface when it comes to unlocking the power of mobile storytelling, brand building, and commerce for brands in the region.
How do you plan to grow the company’s vision moving forward?
Over the last few years, we have been thrilled to grow our presence across the MENA region from the UAE, which remains our business hub for many regional clients and agency partners. We have built a fantastic team, which we will continue to grow and develop.
With our highly engaged audience of Snapchatters in the UAE, we see a significant opportunity to grow that audience even further by empowering people to express themselves, live in the moment, learn about the world, and have fun together.
In addition, we will continue to develop and advocate for best-in-class mobile advertising solutions. Working with brands and agencies to develop creative campaign concepts and innovative planning strategies that match the behaviors of the audiences they’re looking to engage [with.]
What challenges do you expect to face on the road ahead?
We believe the camera represents the greatest opportunity to improve the way people connect and communicate in the UAE. We will continue to focus on innovating in this space, providing our community with the fastest and most creative way to stay connected with their friends and family.
With regards to our brand and agency partners, we have seen a tremendous amount of change and uncertainty over the past six months and this is likely to continue. Our role is to ensure we work with our partners to help them understand the shifts in consumer behavior and the adoption of new technologies, whether that be; an increased focus on e-commerce or how brands can utilize AR to replicate or replace in-store experiences. We have seen brands who are quick to react to these changes, building new and meaningful relationships with consumers in this new normal we’re living in.
How has Snap reacted to the current ongoing crisis?
Keeping our community healthy, aware, and well informed is a priority for us. This is why we are taking a proactive approach to ensure Snapchatters have access to credible, fact-based information on our platform. Our content platform, Discover, is curated and we work closely with only a selected set of partners, including some of the most trusted news organizations around the world, like NBC News, The Telegraph, Sky News, Al Arabiya, and other reputable media publishers. In parallel, we’re working closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure Snapchatters have all the latest information from the experts themselves.
Snap has also harnessed the power of AR, producing widely adopted Lenses to help myth-bust common inaccuracies by separating coronavirus facts from fiction.
We have also launched a feature globally called “Here For You” that provides proactive in-app support to Snapchatters who may be experiencing a mental health issue or an emotional crisis, during this period. In addition, we launched Headspace Mini, an in-app feature that provides Snapchatters with expert resources related to emotional and physical well-being, while offering daily meditations and tools to help them check-in with their friends and stay healthy.
Snapchat is the platform that brings people together and, now more than ever, is the time for people to be connected and to support each other.