Is Snapchat good for advertisers?

Brands will only be able to share content on the app with followers, but potential reach is enormous, asks David Benady.

Snapchat, the mobile app enabling users to send each other pictures and videos that disappear after a few seconds, is paving the way for advertising. The social network’s chief executive, Evan Spiegel, told a Vanity Fair conference last week that ads would launch on the three-year-old service "soon".

So long as it navigates itself out of a hacking scandal – more than 100,000 images have reportedly been leaked –  Snapchat has huge potential.

With a reported 100 million monthly users worldwide sending 700 million Snaps a day, and a strong appeal to teenagers (half of whom in the UK claim to have used it), Snapchat could help brands communicate with tech-savvy young people.  

Spiegel said the ads would not feature in the disappearing message service but in the Snapchat Stories feature, which allows users to bundle a series of Snaps and send them to friends (the content is automatically deleted after 24 hours).

He said the platform would not give advertisers any user data – which is erased with the messages – leading some to describe any advertising as "untargeted" spam.

His announcement followed speculation that Yahoo was poised to invest $20 million in Snapchat. Meanwhile, there have been reports that it is planning to launch a service called Snapchat Discovery, enabling brands to show news snippets and short videos.

Last year, MTV promoted its Snapchat account for the reality series Geordie Shore on Twitter and Facebook, and sent exclusive pictures from the show to its followers on the app. It also uses the Our Story feature, through which users in the same location can contribute Snaps to the same "story".

Channel 4 has a Snapchat account for Hollyoaks and The Co-operative has used it to send out promotional codes, while Lynx has also experimented with the app. Users must follow brands to receive promotions and opt in for ads.

So brands will not be able to make an unannounced interruption and will have to earn the respect of users and give them strong reasons for following them. This is considered to be an essential step given the susceptibility of young digital natives to rejecting unsolicited brand invasions. But is it enough?

Take part in our poll below...

 

YES Charlie Palmer, group marketing manager, Channel 4

"But only if used in the right way. When talking to a younger audience, for whom friendship and connection are everything, humanising your brand is invaluable. Snapchat can provide a unique, non-traditional insight into a brand."

 

MAYBE Tim Pritchard, head of social media, Manning Gottlieb OMD

"There is limited opportunity now, but brave advertisers will be queuing up to leap on board. Advertisers will have to be willing and open to having their message judged, remixed and pulled apart. This would not be for the timid."

 

YES Iain Matthews, head of strategy, Jam

"There is a huge opportunity for brands on Snapchat but, if they view it as another channel to push ads, they’ll fail very quickly. It demands content that can connect brave brands to individuals, rather than highly crafted ads."

 

YES Jo Bacon, vice-president, marketing and creative, MTV UK

"But only if brands have desirable content and are comfortable being authentically communicative and ‘in the moment’ like regular users of the app. It is a user-to-user storytelling tool, and brands should tread lightly."

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