Wednesday, February 10th, 2016 | 7 min read
Since Snapchat launched its first ads in October 2014, the app has been changing the face of mobile marketing. Just last year, Snapchat launched its Discover platform, 3V ads, and sponsored lenses, providing new ways for brands to reach its largely millennial base of over 100 million daily users.
As Snapchat continues to experiment with ad formats, there seem to be two main tenets of the platform’s approach to advertising:
1. Snapchat’s commitment to supporting unique types of content—like vertical videos—that are specifically designed for smartphone viewing and disappear after 24 hours.
2. The values of its 25-year-old co-founder, Evan Spiegel, who is actually opposed to most kinds of online advertising, and is committed to creating editorial, non-intrusive ads.
These qualities are expected to continue driving Snapchat’s advertising efforts in the year ahead. In fact, we’re already seeing news of major developments, with talks of partnerships with Spotify and native election coverage.
Here’s what marketers need to know to stay on top of their Snapchat advertising game in 2016.
According to Digiday, Snapchat is the latest major social network to discuss offering an application programming interface (API), following Instagram’s API launch last year. With this development, brands will be able to set up their own campaigns on Snapchat instead of having to go directly through the platform’s sales representatives. The API could also potentially offer new options for ad formats and targeting.
As Digiday notes, it could be several months until this new feature launches, but once it does, expect the Snapchat ad space to get a lot more crowded pretty quickly.
Advertisers haven’t always been happy with Snapchat’s pricing model. In early 2015, Snapchat started out by asking brands to pay upwards of $750,000 a day for ads that show up in users’ live feeds. Not only is that price much higher than other social networks’ ads, but Snapchat didn’t offer comparable advanced targeting options or analytics data (features Spiegel has said he is against).
Thankfully for marketers, Snapchat has since not only lowered its prices as a response to the feedback; it also launched new, more affordable ad formats. For instance, as of May 2015, brands can purchase 10-second video ads at two cents per view. These ads run natively between videos and articles on Snapchat’s Discover platform.
In the coming year, marketers shouldn’t be surprised to see new pricing models that entice businesses with tighter budgets to try paid media on Snapchat.
In January 2015, Snapchat started creating original content for its own “snapchannel” when it launched Discover. It even debuted its own web series, “Literally Can’t Even,” and hired a Head of Original Content. Months later, however, this internal content team was scrapped, and Snapchat went back to the drawing board.
Now, the mobile app is back at it. At the tail-end of 2015, Snapchat launched a new music channel on Discover. Sponsored by Spotify, the channel features original videos and articles produced by an in-house content team. For instance, an article titled, “The Year of Jack Ü,” was written by former Billboard staff writer, Megan Buerger, and profiles how Skrillex and Diplo are taking over the electronic dance music space.
While Spiegel used to say targeting consumers was “creepy,” it looks like he’s starting to pull back on that statement and offer marketers options to target their desired audiences.
According to Business Insider, Snapchat advertisers can now target users based on gender, age, device, location (as specific as a certain venue or campus), live events, and context (advertising with a certain publisher on Discover).
As Digiday noted, brands can also buy “audience bundles” on Discover. These bundles allow marketers to display their ads across multiple publications according to certain themes, such as world news and entertainment.
The upcoming election will see all social platforms fighting to be consumers’ one-stop-shop for news. But many think Snapchat could come out on top.
Why? Well, the company has already begun staffing for it. Last year, Snapchat hired CNN political news reporter Peter Hamby to lead its news division. The mobile app also put up job postings for “content analysts” to help compile Stories around the presidential race. Not to mention, candidates have also taken to the platform to reach younger audiences. For instance, Jeb Bush announced his campaign on Snapchat, Ted Cruz trolled Donald Trump with a Snapchat filter, and Bernie Sanders joined in November. Still, perhaps the biggest sign that Snapchat could be a hub of political news is the app’s new filters that tracked the Iowa Caucus results in real-time.
Evidently, Snapchat is trying to position itself as a news source for young voters. If the platform can pull it off, it will serve to solidify Snapchat’s reputation as the place reach Millennials—especially for brands that can tie their products back to politics or current events.
Snapchat’s ad program may still be in its infancy, but it’s growing rapidly, and Spiegel is working hard to differentiate it from its competitors. New ad features, like vertical video that takes up the whole screen, are appealing to mobile users, and they should therefore be intriguing to brands, too.
If 2015 was any indication of how much Snapchat is willing to shake up the mobile ad space, 2016 will be full of even more surprises. From a potential API launch and better pricing options to new content initiatives we probably don’t even know about yet, brands may have their pick at how to use the mobile-only app to reach Millennial audiences.
About the Author: Amanda Walgrove writes about content marketing, social media, and online entertainment. She has written for Advertising Week, The Huffington Post, Tablet Magazine, and The Content Strategist, among others.