Tuesday, September 20th, 2016 | 11 min read
Last holiday season, Apple, Beats by Dre, and Drake came together to launch the first-ever Sponsored Lens campaign by a consumer product brand. In an effort to boost Black Friday sales, the headphones retailer invited users to modify their Snapchat selfies with a trippy animation that included floating bubbles, bulging eyes, orbs of light, and Drake’s song, “Big Rings.”
By using the lens, Beats fans got to make some fun videos for friends, and the brand got to expand its reach across Snapchat before the biggest US shopping day of the year.
Since then, Sponsored Lenses have become popular among brands looking to tap into Snapchat’s pool of 150 million daily users. But that’s not the only option for advertisers who want to try their hand at snapping. The chat app also offers opportunities to launch Snap Ads and Sponsored Geofilters.
If these don’t sound like your typical ad formats, that’s because, well, they’re not. In the world of digital advertising, Snapchat is a bit of a unicorn. For one, all of the app’s content is presented vertically. This means brands can’t just take videos from Facebook or YouTube (where audiences favor widescreen formats) and repurpose them. In fact, it almost forces you to create distinct content for its platform.
What’s more, all Snapchat posts disappear after 24 hours, meaning brands can’t rely on a lot of repeat impressions; they need to get their message across quickly, make it memorable, and then get out. This can be particularly suitable for holiday advertising, when marketers are hustling to promote time-sensitive sales and seasonal deals.
Snapchat may be a bit of a black sheep, but it’s also an incredibly dynamic ad platform. With 41% of 18-34 year-olds reached every day, 10 billion videos consumed in the same time frame, and a newly-opened API, there is a ton of potential for reaching new audiences with fun and distinctive messaging.
Here’s how you can make the most of advertising on Snapchat this holiday season.
Snap Ads are full-screen vertical videos that last up to 10 seconds and always appear in the context of other Snaps. This means they can pop up between regular Snap Stories (collections of images and videos that users publish for their friends), Live Stories (which revolve around special events), or Stories on Discover (Snapchat’s platform of curated news from major media outlets like CNN, ESPN, and Vogue).
As of this summer, brands can also invite users to swipe their Snap Ads to see more. For instance, by swiping, viewers can see a longform video, text article, app install page, or mobile website. As Snapchat reported, the swipe-up rate for Snap Ads is 5x higher than the average click-through rate on other social platforms.
This is a perfect opportunity for brands to launch ads promoting holiday sales and include an option for users to visit their online store or app where they can make purchases.
Sponsored Geofilters are custom-made frames and images that users can lay over their Snaps when they’re in a certain location. For instance, last year Starbucks launched geofilters that popped up whenever people were in or near the company’s stores. Made just for the season, the content featured Starbucks’ iconic red holiday cups clinking together.
These filters provide people with a fun and easy way to show their friends where they are and what they’re doing, while also giving brands an opportunity to reach new audiences. As Adweek reported, Snapchat Geofilters are viewed 800 million times per day.
This season, you might consider using geofilters at in-store sales, city landmarks, or holiday events where you know a lot of people will be congregating. You can even try to pinpoint certain places people use your products and launch geofilters for those locations.
For example, last December, General Electric created a filter designed to reach people traveling for the holidays. Spread across 50 US airports and 25 train stations, the filter was customized for each transit stop to look like a boarding pass or train ticket. To let family and friends know where they were and where they were headed, users could plug in their location and future destination.
Where does the GE brand fit into this whole message? As Business Insider reported, the company created the campaign “to spread awareness amongst young people about how much of the travel industry relies on its technology.”
Sponsored Lenses, like the one from Beats by Dre, provide an opportunity for brands to embrace their creative and experimental side. Just think of the most popular Lenses on the platform, like the one that lets you vomit rainbows or the one that turns you into a slobbery puppy.
By creating their own Lenses, marketers can invite users to interact with their ads through wacky animations and facial triggers (like opening your mouth so an orb of light can come out). Maybe your holiday-themed lens will feature a Santa hat, for instance, or a giant Thanksgiving turkey. You might even include an animation of someone opening your product as a holiday gift—so they can drop a not-so-subtle hint about what they want this year.
For your holiday campaigns, you might be trying to drive website purchases, in-store purchases, email signups for special offers, or other forms of engagement. While Sponsored Geofilters and Sponsored Lenses mostly generate brand awareness, Snap Ads’ new swipe feature holds a ton of potential for you to collect consumer data and direct users to specific conversion pages.
Still, measurement is a different issue. It’s well known that Snapchat is a bit cagey about its official ad metrics. To ease advertiser’s concerns, however, the app has recently partnered with companies such as Nielsen, Moat, and Google in an effort to provide more robust metrics. Additionally, we can see from Snapchat’s case studies that they’re capable of measuring impressions, views, and plays.
Social Media Today’s Shawn Ryan reported that, after running a Sponsored Geofilter, he was able to measure views and uses. With those numbers on-hand, he calculated cost-per-view and views-per-use to get a better idea of how hard his dollars were working.
Whether you’re working on Snapchat’s API or partnering with the company directly, brands should make sure to gain a solid understanding of their campaign metrics. From there, you can better see how these ads feed into your lead-generation strategy.
Snapchat’s content is unique in that it’s entirely mobile-based and vertically laid out. This is probably a change for marketers who are used to creating videos for Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. As such, it’s important to get comfortable with vertical video before you figure out how to create your own.
If you’re new to the platform, take some time to browse user content, check out how media outlets are creating videos on Discover, and think about how your brand can take advantage of this format.
Brands can target Snapchat ads by age, gender, location, device, and mobile carrier. However, they can also distribute their messages among Discover channels that are most relevant to their content. Say, for instance, you’re marketing a cosmetics brand. Your ads might be placed in the Vogue and Cosmopolitan channels, so you can reach people who are most likely to be interested in what you have to say.
That’s why it’s important to get familiar with the Discover network and get an idea of which types of stories are being told on it. From there, you can better understand the people who might read this content and brainstorm how you might be able to reach them with your holiday ads.
Users are going to be bombarded with ads during holiday time. You might consider getting your message across by partnering with influencers who already have their attention. Because the platform is still new to many advertisers, influencer marketing is a great way to test the waters.
Say you’re a fashion retail brand looking to drive holiday sales. Find Snapchat users who are authorities in the fashion world and work with them to offer special promotions to their viewers. You can even set up a plan to take over their account for an afternoon or a day when you’re having a major sale or event. Then, you can give a behind-the-scenes look at your products, answer questions, and direct people to your online shop and retail stores, all while building valuable new relationships.
Consider Snapchat’s ad tools an early holiday gift for your brand. With Snap Ads, Sponsored Lenses, and Sponsored Geofilters, marketers have their pick of distinct and dynamic formats through which to reach Snapchat’s millennial audience.
There’s more where that came from, too. As Snapchat continues to refine its ad products (and even slash prices), it should only become easier for brands to get their messages to the right people at the right time. Behavioral targeting, for example, is expected to launch later this year, while the invaluable “swipe-up” feature is still in its infancy. Meaning, there’s still room for your brand to become a pioneer of Snapchat advertising by finding the most exceptional ways to use these new tools.
‘Tis the season to drive sales, and there’s never been a better time to make your mark on one of the most unique platforms out there.