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The Evolution of Snapchat Advertising

The Evolution of Snapchat Advertising

I’ll be the first to admit it- I’m a little obsessed with Snapchat. I’ve stuck with the app through all the updates: when the “best friends” feature was taken away, when “best friends” came back (but privately), when emojis were introduced, and when the interactive lenses (or filters) were rolled out. I proudly have snap streaks over 600 days, and it’s likely the app I spend the most time in.

I’m not alone in this either. On any given day, Snapchat reaches 28 percent of the American population (up from 11 percent in 2016), and 70 percent of 13-34 year olds (up from 41 percent in 2016). 6 in 10 Snapchat users are between 25 – 34, and it surpasses Twitter in users worldwide. It has an unparalleled hold on a highly desired market – millennials account for 70 percent of the user base, which marketers spend 500 percent more to reach than any other demographic.

The evolution

All this makes Snapchat advertising interesting for advertisers. The platform has undergone two major redesigns in the last three years that have affected their user base and advertising opportunities:

  • In 2016, they rolled out a “discover” feed for users to easily find celebrities and influencers, and added ads that played between users stories. While this initially wasn’t popular, advertisers saw massive value and the users adjusted.
  • In 2018, they rolled out a complete redesign that changed everything about the user experience. They sorted stories by algorithm, rather than chronologically (always a dangerous move for user satisfaction), changed the look and navigation of the Discover feed, and made all notifications look the same. Previously, users got different notifications for snap pictures, stories, and chat.

Both were major changes for the platform which had historically catered more to its consumers than advertisers and built its reputation on disappearing photos. But Snapchat’s sudden focus on advertisers and failure to listen to users feedback led to a 73% drop in user satisfaction.

They’ve since made tweaks and updates, and have mostly bounced back. From a marketer’s standpoint this was a step in the right direction. Though the growth has slowed and it now struggles to compete with Instagram stories, Snapchat still has a firm hold on younger demographics, lending itself to huge revenue potential. Advertisers wanted a better and more cohesive way to reach their audience, and now they have it.

The advertising opportunities

  • Snap Ads. These are the newest advertising option, and are either a mobile video ad or an interactive ad. The swipe-up rate for Snap Ads is 5X higher than the average CTR for other comparable social platforms. Take a recent Snap Ad campaign from Gatorade. When users swiped up, they could play an 8-bit version of a tennis game celebrating Serena Williams. The average time spent in this ad was over 3 minutes and it was viewed almost 30 million times.
  • In-Story Ads. Added in 2016, previously advertisers could only post within the Discover feature, which could get anywhere from 500,000 to over a million views in a day (with overall daily video views that beat Facebook’s by 2 billion). Now they’re able to place static or video ads while still giving the user an uninterrupted experience.
  • Sponsored Lenses. These are hands-down the most expensive ads Snapchat offers. Costs can surpass $500,000 for 24 hours during big holidays and events. But big cost means big exposure. Take the Taco Bell’s taco face filter, which received over 224 million views! On average, users play with sponsored lenses for 20 seconds. This gives Snapchat a clear advantage- not only do users not mind the ads, they actively play and interact with them.
  • Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority; their lens was viewed 41 million times and played with by 29 million users in just 24 hours.
  • Geofilters. A geofilter is a filter that appears within certain geographical locations. These filters and their respective locations are designed by any user, then approved and made live by Snapchat. Companies can design a geofilter and pay for it to be used where they want. Snapchat advertising also has a feature of on-demand (read: “short-term”) geofilters that can be used to promote a campaign, sale, or event for a very reasonable price.

The next steps

So what does this mean for businesses and attractions? You don’t have to be on Snapchat if it’s not right for you, but there are steps you can take to make sure you’re not missing out.

  • Make sure your location/ business is available as a location filter. You can check this by tapping through all available locations. If you find that you’re not on there, submit a ticket to Snapchat to be added.
  • Consider setting budget aside for a special geofilter for your events. These can be targeted down to square feet, and can last as little as a few hours. You’ll be able to track engagement and use even without an account.

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