Thursday, May 21st, 2015 | 12 min read
We’ve said it before: advertising on Snapchat Discover isn’t quite like anything else out there.
First, while on most social platforms, publishers, brands, and users all vie for attention within the same space, Discover takes a different approach, putting content providers – and the brands that advertise with them – front and center.a
Second, Snapchat Discover creates a truly immersive experience with full-screen graphics, text overlays, animation, and sound; there’s nothing static about it.
Then there’s the question of ad buying – rather than purchasing ad space through existing ad-buying partners, brands interested in creating a campaign on Discover must go directly through Snapchat or contact a Discover channel partner.
And because Snapchat users don’t attach detailed demographic data to their profiles, sophisticated audience targeting isn’t available through Snapchat ad products.This means that advertisers need to take a close look at each Discover channel — including content, target audience, existing ads, and current advertising partners — to decide which one is the best fit for their brand.
We’re here to do the hard work for you! In this post we’ll take a deep dive into three Discover channels that are particularly active with advertising – CNN, the Daily Mail, and Cosmopolitan – and examine which types of audiences can be reached through each one. We’ll also dissect ads found on other channels, and we’ll explore which types of brand advertisers would be the best fit for each channel.
CNN occupies the prime top-left position on the Discover home screen. While it may be the most traditional brand of the bunch (it’s the only mainstream news content provider), CNN’s Discover content aims to appeal to the app’s millennial demographic through an informal, personal tone of voice. They cover cultural trends such as the rise of the “rental lifestyle”, news about social issues, travel, and life after college.
CNN experiments with a mix of short and long-form articles, infographic-style lists, and video, and the final Snap is always an inspiring fun fact or quote. All content is repurposed from the CNN site with added images and graphics.
Here’s CNN’s Discover content from launch day:
BMW is the primary sponsor of CNN’s Discover channel in North America, which means that users see a BMW logo in CNN’s Discover intro animation.
The sponsorship also includes video ads that appear between CNN’s Discover content. This advert for the BMW i3 has been adapted to fit Snapchat’s portrait screen:
CNN’s Snapchat programming is in line with the media company’s overall shift towards creating content that appeals to a more diverse, younger audience (and captures the attention of a wider range of ad partners). Going forward, it would make sense to see brand advertisers on its channel that have even more synergy with the millennial demographic, such as mobile phone operators (Sprint, AT&T) or consumer product brands (like Coca-Cola).
The Daily Mail’s Discover channel is pretty much what you’d expect: a mix of tabloid news stories with articles on life hacks and viral videos.
Nearly all Daily Mail Snaps swipe down to a long-form article peppered with images.
There isn’t much animation on their channel, and most of the Snaps are are free of sound (except, of course, for the videos). Overall, the design mimics that of a tabloid magazine.
Confirmed advertisers for the Daily Mail channel are T-Mobile, Stride, Macy’s, and Oxygen. It’s also reported that Starbucks, Sony, and Specsavers have struck Snapchat Discover advertising deals with the publication.
T-Mobile has experimented with Snapchat Discover advertising more than most of the other early advertisers, producing a series of spots specifically for Snapchat.
The campaign features mock live reports that poke fun at various clichés like a gym addict, a hipster cyclist, and a folk band. They are short and snappy at 10-seconds long, and the acting is deliberately poor in a self-made Vine video style.
In each spot, something dear to the subject vanishes suddenly. This ties in with the T-Mobile slogan “Don’t lose what you don’t use” — referring to their DataStash promotion that lets users roll over their data. The storyline for each T-mobile spot is split into two video ads that appear on either side of Daily Mail content. So, a user first sees a video ad, swipes left to see a Daily Mail Snap, then when swipes left again to see the conclusion of the story.
Click through to watch the video on Vimeo
Technically, it feels like T-Mobile has found the sweet spot with its Snapchat ads: they speak to the Snapchat demographic, the campaign is about losing things (which relates to the ephemeral nature of Snapchat), and the video is shot in a rugged style. Clearly, the platform lends itself to this kind of approach, and it will be interesting to see if other brands push this direction further. Something similar to the Old Spice campaign, The Man Your Man Could Smell Like, would be a good fit.
This campaign demonstrates that the Daily Mail is moving more quickly than most of the content providers to arrange ad partners and deliver Snapchat-specific ads. Mail North America Chief Executive Jon Steinberg said, “We’re out in the market bringing this to advertisers. We’re now offering this in every package.”
Including Snapchat in its other advertising packages is a great unique value proposition. Snapchat is hot property right now, and there are only a few media partners who can offer brands an ad spot. If you have an interesting idea for Discover, the Daily Mail looks like a good place to start.
Cosmopolitan is the only channel that caters specifically to the social platforms female audience. In fact, Snapchat’s audience is approximately 70% female, so it makes perfect sense to include a popular woman’s magazine as one of the 12 Discover channels.
The content is classic Cosmo: relationship advice, style tips, empowerment, and horoscopes. It’s delivered as short articles and listicles, and feels right at home in Snapchat.
Cosmopolitan’s design style feels original, making good use of full-screen images and sensitive plain type overlays.
Cosmo has collaborated with boating shoe brand Sperry to create contextual ads on Discover. Sperry’s video ad, which features young people on vacation, follows this listicle with tips on packing for a vacation (full list here on the Cosmo site):
Click here to see a full animation of the ad
Sperry also has a very Snapchat and social media-friendly slogan: “The best stories are written with your feet.”
This ad is an adaptation of Sperry’s existing 30-second TV ad, seen below.
Cosmo is a good fit for Snapchat. Its content and style feel at home, and the largely-female audience on Snapchat should translate into lots of impressions. It makes sense that clothing and footwear brands gravitate to Cosmo’s Discover channel to reach the female millennial audience. We’d also expect to see cosmetics and aspirational sportswear brands like Nike perform well.
There’s also an opportunity here for Cosmo to feature advertorial content, a staple promotional technique for cosmetics brands in print magazines (and something that has been successfully used in the Cosmo magazine for years). For example, a series of short video ads featuring a popular YouTube makeup artist using Revlon products would work well.
Cosmetics brands should be banging on Cosmo’s door advertise on their Discover channel, as the initial campaigns of this type could generate extra PR in addition to the expected exposure from ad impressions.
Other brands have also run a variety of campaigns on Snapchat. Here’s a quick run-through of a few that stand out.
Intimates brand Victoria’s Secret promoted its Victoria’s Secret Swim Special TV show on CBS. The ads worked as a kind of teaser campaign for the TV show, airing on Snapchat on the same day as the TV Special. These ads fit perfectly with the style of Snapchat content, as they were merely a few seconds long and sandwiched between organic content. Presumably, the goals was to catch Snapchat users prior to the show and get them to tune in.
Images via AdAge
The Universal Movie Seventh Son sponsored ESPN’s channel. This included a logo and release date on the ESPN bumper and a short trailer of the movie between its sports content (it’s been widely reported that ESPN is selling one-day sponsorship of its Discover channel for more than $100k).
The GoPro ad (Dude BMX’s Down Slope) merges seamlessly with the Bleacher Report’s organic content. It looks just like the channels’ other videos or articles in Snapchat Discover; the only difference when you swipe down to play the video is the GoPro branding.
Discover ads are both a throwback to oldschool-style advertising dynamics and, at the same time, something entirely new. They blur the lines between ads and content, incorporating elements of magazine and TV advertising. Unlike ads on other social platforms, they don’t link back to Snapchat brand accounts, and they don’t invite interactions, engagements, likes, or shares. As with magazine ads, if you don’t like the ad, you can just flick past it.
It’s still early for Discover advertising, but the platform is clearly gaining traction and generating interest from big brand advertisers. At this stage, it looks like a win-win for users, brands, and media channels. Snapchat users get a non-invasive ad product (if you don’t like it, swipe right!) that leaves the core functionality of Snapchat untouched, brands get a new and exciting rich ad format, and media channels get to own a piece of the platform and strike advertising deals directly with brands.
And it just got even better for advertisers: Snapchat has announced it’s new, simplified pricing structure for 10-second Discover video ads dubbed “Two Pennies” (the ads will cost just 2 cents per view). There is little official detail on the new offering right now, but this new product assuages the understandable concern that Snapchat ads are too expensive. Snapchat is getting serious about offering competitive advertising products, and the “Two Pennies” ad format could give every brand an opportunity to get involved.
All that’s missing is data that proves these ads really work; it’s not clear yet if advertising on Discover is moving business metrics like awareness or sales. We’ll let you know as soon as results are out.
About the Author: Jamie O’Brien is part of the Sprinklr content team and is based in Singapore. In a previous life, he was a digital art director in London. He likes to get away from the city as often as is humanly possible to snowboard, dive or hike.