Is Snapchat the Next Big Frontier for Ad-Targeting?

Author: Robert Scott

Category: Blog Posts

Snapchat, one of the fastest growing mobile apps and social media, is to push its advertising further into the digital ad targeting world, bringing it in line with competitors such as Facebook. Snapchat for much of its infancy was an ad free platform and has only recently introduced ads to its offering. So with Snapchat now taking their first steps into digital ad targeting, is this the future of social media advertising?

It’s fair to say that Facebook were the trailblazers with targeting ads at their users. Their promise to keep the platform free to use had to be subsidised somehow and the most obvious way to do that was through allowing companies to advertise on Facebook. Companies could advertise based on first and third party data, reaching their audience through timely and relevant messages. This has now evolved so that these retargeted ads are included within people’s timelines so they feel more natural and part of the Facebook interface, rather than an intrusive ad which the user doesn’t want to see.

This is where Snapchat may fall down. Serving a Snapchat user an ad will not be as fluid as it is for Facebook; there will always be an air of intrusiveness about it. From personal use, I have noticed ads starting to creep into my daily use of Snapchat, being shoe horned in between friends’ stories. I’d be viewing a friend’s story, looking at their selfie of them in the gym to suddenly thinking “I didn’t know they knew Kevin Bacon?” - Oh no wait it’s an EE ad that automatically plays after their story.

Up until now these ads have been blanket ads, based primarily on geography and age. However, Snapchat have announced what many marketers have been waiting for – they are opening up the platform for targeting through different options. The first, which they call ‘Snap Audience Match’, is your typical targeting fare; marketers can take lists of existing anonymous email addresses and mobile device IDs and match these with Snapchat’s data to target ads. The second is called ‘Snapchat Lifestyle Categories’, which allows companies to target people based on the videos they consume on the platform; for example brands can choose to target people who are more likely to watch fashion videos. Lastly is an option which Snapchat refer to as ‘Lookalikes’, where brands can target consumers that exhibit a set of characteristics that are similar to existing consumers.

It can easily be argued that what Snapchat is doing is not groundbreaking in the slightest. These targeting options are being used already by the majority of companies using ad targeting, and it appears that Snapchat is merely playing catch up to the Google and Facebook, as well as other social media platforms like Twitter, Pinterest and Linkedin. On the other hand, we could argue that a new entrant into the world of ad targeting is a good thing in order to restrict the duopoly that is currently forming with Google and Facebook, with these two online giants currently control around 75% of the online advertising market. Now it would be a bold statement to say that Snapchat has a chance to take a chunk of this 75% away from Google and Facebook, but with 150 million daily users, it isn’t unfeasible for this to happen.

So to sum up, Snapchat aren’t necessarily making waves in the online advertising world and it would seem that they are just playing catch up to the established players. However, given their uniqueness and the possibilities that they offer to marketers, it is not without reason that Snapchat could be a big player in the online advertising world in the near future. Watch this space...


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