POV: Snapchat Advertising

Mindshare Point of View: Last week Snapchat, the mobile app enabling users to send each other pictures and videos that disappear after a few seconds, launched its advertising service with Universal Picture’s latest horror flick, Ouija. The popular app, which famously rebuffed a $3 billion acquisition offer from Facebook last year, claims over 100 million monthly active users who send over 700 million Snaps and view over 1 billion Stories per day.

Over a year ago Snapchat introduced “Stories”, a new feature that enabled users to send an image or a video to their contacts, which would remain accessible to the recipients for twenty four hours from the time it was initially posted. Additionally, new photos and videos could be added to the stories within the twenty four hour period, allowing for sequential story telling.  This new function was intended to increase general usage, as users were now permitted to repeatedly view content at their own convenience.

In this old model, brands could post stories to their followers, similar to making a Facebook or Twitter post. The big change is that brands can now move beyond organic posts and now pay to get wider distribution beyond followers, similar to Facebook advertising or Twitter promoted tweets.

Immensely popular amongst the teenage demographic thus far Snapchat has struggled with advertisers and brands due to a somewhat questionable reputation, targeting difficulties, recent data safety concerns, and frankly the fact that most marketers simply don’t use the app.


Advertisements in Snapchat will sit in the recent updates section of a user’s inbox and are opt-in/user initiated, so ‘no biggie’ for the users as the official company statement reads. Highlighted as ‘Sponsored’ there is no targeting options and no publically released data on cost models (please contact us if you are interested in learning more).


Snapchat, will most likely never match the targeting of Facebook and Twitter or the direct response of Google and Pinterest. However it could become a powerhouse for branded storytelling to an engaged and specific audience. User initiated advertisements is a powerful statement of intent from Snapchat and a warning shot to other social networks who are delving deeper and deeper into newsfeeds and interrupting the user’s social experience. The advertisements will be non-targeted, to begin with, so will lend themselves to mass market products targeting a younger demographic.


Whilst other platforms have better reach and targeting the power of Snapchat is active engagement and has the complete attention of the user during the advertisement. The fact that you have to touch and hold to view the advertisement means each impression owns real attention. The product corrects the issues of over (or under) posting on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter whilst adding an element of urgency to engage with the content. Used correctly Snapchat could become a powerful and unique tool for some innovative branded storytelling.  Look out for potential future enhancements to attract more advertisers, which may include better targeting and sharing capability to generate more earned media.