Mar 1, 2020
Snapchat advertising has gone through a quiet revolution. For years, Snapchat was one of the most expensive advertising options on the market. With its array of unique features and raw, behind-the-scenes feel, the platform was carving out its own niche.
It did things differently, and advertising was no different; the platform relied on human curators to pick its advertising, rather than relying on the auction system many other social media platforms use.
That’s recently changed, though. Over the past couple of years, Snapchat has brought more and more of its business over to the programmatic side, automating its process and opening up its APIs to would-be advertisers eager for data.
That’s had some downsides (among them the well-known feud with Chrissy Teigen over a false ad using her likeness). Bad actors have been able to leak through the cracks more easily than when Snapchat relied on human curation. Other platforms have had those issues as well, but Snapchat’s recent move has it going through some growing pains.
Despite the issues, Snapchat is an effective platform for advertising, and your brand can take advantage of it. There are some things you need to keep in mind with it that you wouldn’t with other platforms, though. Snapchat isn’t for everyone, but in the right hands, it can be a highly effective tool.
Dominating the Youth Market
Compared to the biggest players in advertising, Snapchat is miniscule. In revenue and in reach, it comes out well below Facebook, Google, and just about every other online advertising platform. The app comes in behind even Pinterest in share …
However, though Facebook is doing its best to poach Snapchat’s user base with its new Instagram features, Snapchat still holds a dominant position with one group: youth.
Youth between the teens and late twenties are significantly more likely to use Snapchat; with nearly half of this age group using the app. They have been early and ardent adopters of the platform.
Finding ways to get messages to this demographic will be key moving forward, especially as they begin to grow and mature and have more income. Getting a foot in the door on Snapchat is a great way to get started.
We’ve all had the experience of conducting an email campaign and watching the open rates with a little bit of sadness. Advertising often gets swiped by, scrolled over or left unread, no matter what the platform.
Snapchat, at least to this point, has been very different. Nine out of ten people who follow Gary Vaynerchuk on Snapchat watch his story. Eight out of ten open Taco Bell’s snaps. And these aren’t outrageous outliers.
The audience is engaged and attentive, and they want to hear what you have to say.
Simplicity of Use
Snapchat’s ad platform is one of the simplest and cleanest out there. It’s easy to use and understand, and has some features like time-gated ad runs that are really useful for short campaigns.
With Snapchat’s video ad features on their website, it’s easy to create video ads with few or no tools outside of their own. You don’t have to have a huge editing suite, which can be great if you want to put something together quickly.
Behind the Scenes
When you’re trying to give people a sense of behind the scenes, Snapchat is one of the best platforms you can use. Its users respond well to advertising that doesn’t have the slick, polished look that you’d expect from something like Facebook or Instagram.
Snapchat’s original premise is short, user-generated content that’s very much in the moment. Polish runs counter to the ethos. Especially for the demographic that you’re going to be hitting on Snapchat (Millennials and younger), too much polish will come off a little fake.
In some ways, that can make Snapchat harder to fit into a complete advertising strategy, because you can’t easily repurpose content from somewhere else. Often you have to create something completely new, and that takes time and effort that most companies don’t want to spend on a small platform.
Snap has definitely had its success stories, though …
If you’re willing to invest the time and you have a younger audience, its robust targeting tools will let you grab attention in a way you can’t on the more saturated channels.
How Do You Succeed?
Neil Patel took a walk through the Snapchat ecosystem and discovered that there was a common thread among many of the success stories: B2C companies with big advertising budgets. Those companies are using things like sponsored lenses that cost multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars a day.
However, if you want to dip a toe in the water, you’re well placed to do so. CPMs can be high, depending on what you’re doing—and they can fluctuate a fair bit—but overall, you can expect to see dividends in engagement over what you might on a platform like Facebook or Google that has more competition and less interested eyeballs.
What’s the takeaway for Snapchat advertising?
• Don’t make your creative too polished. If you make it too polished, it won’t look right on Snapchat’s less-formal platform. Save that for Instagram or Pinterest. It shouldn’t look like found footage, but it should be more raw and real than your regular creative.
• Use the targeting tools. You’ve probably used Custom Audiences with Facebook—you can use them here too. Snapchat’s ad platform is robust enough to allow you to target your customers with good detail.
• Keep the youth market in mind. For some businesses, Snapchat advertising just doesn’t make sense. Though it’s starting to make inroads into older generations, the bread and butter will still be teens and young adults for the foreseeable future. It’s a hard platform to learn for older people and one that’s geared for younger eyes.
Your brand may or may not be right for Snapchat, but it’s worth taking a little time to experiment and see what happens. Snapchat’s sky-high engagement and easy-to-use advertising manager are benefits that any organization can use.
You may find that this small social media app turns into a hidden gem.