It’s no secret that Snapchat has changed the social media game— it connects with young, millennial audiences and panders to our increasingly short attention spans in fun, engaging ways that other platforms with more permanent social sharing like Facebook and Instagram just can’t. After Snapchat declined Facebook’s $3 billion buyout offer, many copycat apps have sprung, including Facebook-owned Instagram’s ‘story’ feature. But none of these apps with 10-second photo-sharing features have the same reach as Snapchat, something that is evident from its whopping $18 billion valuation (according to Forbes).
What contributes to Snapchat’s net worth is its unique advertising mechanism. While on other platforms, users hate ads, on Snapchat, users can interact with ads, play with them, and even post it themselves on other social media platforms.
The app offers several advertising options. One option is creating sponsored lenses, which are engaging, playful, and interactive.
The next option is sponsoring a geofilter. Snapchat describes these as “tiny pieces of art” that allow the sponsoring brand to make an impression with thousands of snapchat users in the geographical area chosen.
The third option— a 10 second “snap ad”— at first seems more traditional compared to the other two, but it’s actually very unique. Snap ads are 10-second videos featured on Snapchat Discover. Snapchat Discover is a unique platform within Snapchat that features content from various media and publishing giants like Buzzfeed, CNN, National Geographic, and Mashable. (These content channels, so to speak, are themselves adverts for the publishing companies, and a per-day cost for them to appear on Snapchat is an estimated $50,000.)
What makes advertising on Snapchat Discover different from advertising on platforms like Facebook is that it doesn’t rely on complicated algorithms that match the user to an ad based on the user’s likes, friends, and search patterns. Instead, it directly connects a content channel on Discover to the kind of advertisement that would likely be attractive to someone visiting that particular channel. This also ensures that brands aren’t all competing for the user’s attention on the same space, but instead are positioned to attract their individual target markets.
As I swiped through the articles, White Castle’s advertisements appeared after every 3 swipes, for 10 seconds each. Since I didn’t grow up in America, I’d never heard of it before, but apparently it’s USA’s first fast-food chain. It was founded in 1921, and is famous for its small, square hamburgers.
White Castle’s adverts only showed up on Tastemade’s channel— a channel that already only features food-related content. It didn’t show up on any of the other lifestyle channels featured on Discover. So White Castle was positioned favorably to gain my attention, since I was already browsing a food page. And, it didn’t have to compete with brands advertising shoes or clothes, like it would have had to on my Facebook.
At first, I wasn’t impressed with the way a White Castle ad kept appearing after every 3 swipes. But Snapchat seems to have a found a way around that as well, something I realized when I noticed that each ad was different. Every ad had different images and content, to maximize the engagement potential of the user. This is entirely different from platforms like Youtube and Facebook, where the repetitiveness of advertisements can be infuriating.
And unlike Youtube, where you can’t immediately skip video ads, Snapchat gives users the options of skipping the ad immediately.
The entry cost for snap ads is estimated to be about $1,000, making it possible for smaller companies and brands to advertise on the platform. But brands also have the option to place better, more interactive ads by paying extra. While White Castle’s ad seemed to be the bare minimum offered on Discover, other (more expensive) options include swiping up to reveal more brand-related content like listicles, recipes, videos, and even an app-download page.
Snapchat’s user base might be lower at the moment than other platforms like Facebook and Instagram, but given it’s youth appeal and quick engagement, it’s bound to grow. The swipe-up rate on a snap ad is already 5 times the average click-through rate for ads on other platforms, according to Snapchat’s data.
Snapchat Discover is definitely a treasure trove for marketers who want to ensure that adverts for brands reach key audiences. With its 100 million+ daily users and a welcome emphasis on rich, engaging and interactive content, the social media giant definitely has an edge over its competitors, as long as it keeps innovating.