By Elna Cain
Doodles and captions on your images?
Is there more to Snapchat than that? And, are young adults the only users who can benefit from this new platform?
Indeed, Snapchat may seem like an unlikely platform for advertising, but it’s looking to be a sensible investment for the future.
The first ad on Snapchat was for the film “Ouija” in October 2014, and since then, major corporations such as NFL and Taco Bell have joined the platform.
Snapchat advertising isn’t an option for businesses with small marketing budgets, but it is now an option for mid- to larger-sized companies. The platform has lowered the minimum spend from $700,000 to $100,000.
Advertising on Snapchat is an entirely different beast compared to most other platforms out there. You need to grab the attention of users, create a buzz, and be memorable – all within a short time – before your ad is deleted from their phone never to be seen again.
It’s a new medium, but it is possible to make an impact and to grow your business on Snapchat. Let’s take an in-depth look at how businesses can use this platform strategically to their advantage.
A Beginner’s Guide to Snapchat
Snapchat is a mobile-only photo and video messaging app that’s fast becoming one of the most popular platforms in the social sphere.
The app is relatively new. It was created in September 2011 by University students Bobby Murphy, Evan Spiegel, and Reggie Brown. It currently has 100 million daily active users. Eighteen percent of all US social media users are on it and 9% of all cell phone users. Even the White House has a profile.
The app has approximately 10 billion video views a day and is close to rivaling the views of Facebook. Fifty-four percent of users watch up to 30 minutes of video per day on the app. CEO Evan Spiegel even boasted, “More people are watching college football on Snapchat than they are on television.” This may not be entirely true but it could very well be in the future.
Who’s Using it?
Source: Pew Research Center
Snapchat is a young person’s game – the biggest age demographic is 18-29. One of the key features in Snapchat’s advertising program is its access to Millennials. Today, marketers are spending 500% more to reach this demographic group and they make up approximately 7 out of 10 of the platforms users.
The average income is skewed towards the higher end, which is good news because higher income equals more disposable income to spend on products.
How to Advertise
Snapchat users can send a photo or a video to other users that can be viewed for up to ten seconds, and then it’s deleted, or, they can join photos/videos together in a “story” that can be viewed for up to 24 hours.
There are a number of PPC advertising options available to businesses.
Live Story Takeover
Allows brands to use up to three spots within a user’s live story feed.
This is a relatively new feature that allows brands to share content in a specific section of the Snapchat story homepage. Brands such as Sky News and Comedy Central use this section regularly. The ads cost 2-3 cents per view and have a number of targeting options discussed later.
This is Snapchat’s premium service that allows brands to cover multiple live story spots and discover channels.
On-Demand Geo Filters
Brands can purchase an on-demand geo filter that can be added to users’ snaps either nationally or when they are at a specific location. The filter can be an extension of the company’s branding.
As of February 2016, these start at $5.00 each and are available to businesses and individuals. It was originally limited to a select few brand partners. McDonalds was one of the first companies to use the original Sponsored Geo Filters, allowing customers to add cheeseburgers, fries, and other fast-food items to their snaps when eating at their restaurants.
Similar to Geo Filters, Sponsored Lenses can be created by a company and added to snaps. They can be a logo or a stamp, and you don’t have to be in a specific location to use them. Compared to filters, though, they can be extremely pricey, around $750,000 during a holiday and $500,000 during the week.
With these ads, users can swipe or click to be taken to a download page for a brand’s app. Important metrics can be obtained about downloaders, making them an effective tool for marketing campaigns.
There are many different ways you can use Snapchat for advertising.
1. Product Previews
Snapchat ads are great for previewing new products. The time limit promotes exclusivity and is ideal for creating a buzz around an upcoming launch. Acura posted short teaser videos of its new NSX prototype to create chatter.
Release exclusive coupons for customers that can only be found on Snapchat. In 2014, fashion company One Piece launched a campaign for their Christmas calendar.
3. Raise awareness
The World Wildlife Foundation harnessed the fleeting nature of the platform to raise awareness with their “Don’t Let This Be Their #lastselfie” campaign.
4. Run a Competition
Mondelez ran a competition with a prize of $10,000 for the best snap of their chocolate bar “Timeout.”
5. Embrace the Time Limit
Bitly recommends that you “embrace the vanishing act” of messages on Snapchat as they “can be used to drive a sense of urgency and exclusivity.” Use this to your advantage. Post intriguing, short and sweet videos or images of new products that the user knows they will only be able to view for a finite amount of time.
6. Get Creative
Cyrene Quiamco, founder of The 11th Second says, “Push the boundaries when it comes to creating your content.” Popular Snapchat campaigns are those that inventive and original. Use a variety of content in your snap stories; make use of filters, text, and colors, and keep the user on their toes.
Justin Kan, Partner at Y Combinator warns, “Snapchat is not YouTube, Vine, Facebook or Instagram – don’t use it like it is. Don’t just post static pictures like Instagram, or boring, non-interactive videos that can also be posted on YouTube.”
As with any marketing campaigns, Snapchat ads should be A/B tested for full optimization.
8. Use Your Brand Voice
Snapchat advertising is another opportunity to portray branding. But make sure you keep with the nature of the app when you do so. Forbes says, “the language you use should be easy-to-understand, and your posts should have a sense of fun.
There are limited targeting options for Snapchat ads but this is actually a deliberate thing. CEO Evan Spiegel famously said he doesn’t want the platform to be “creepy.”
Hypertargeting is not an option when keeping the platform free of big brother type ads that seem to know your every move is a priority.
The following options are available:
- Location / Events – The mobile nature of the platform allows advertisers to target events and locations. Audi did this with storming success during the 2014 Superbowl.
- Age – This function is particularly useful for alcohol producers as it can be used to ensure their ads reach those over 21. Bud Light was among the first to pilot this during an event at Catalina Island
- iPhone or Android
Snapchat ads are still in their infancy, which means there are few metrics available to monitor a campaign’s effectiveness. The current options are:
Advantages of Using the Platform
Snapchat is currently valued at $16 billion and this figure is only going up – indicating it to be a sensible investment for advertising.
There are a number of advantages to using the platform:
- Human natured – Snapchat offers an opportunity for you to get personal with your brand and show fans that you are not just a faceless corporation. Harkable describes snaps as “a very lo-fi, warts-and-all level of content.” The majority are selfies and on-the-fly videos, so create content that fits with this and show off your personality. Jason DeMers recommends using the platform to show behind the scenes of your business, involving fans further.
- Transparency – It is clear on Snapchat which snaps are ads and which are not. This transparency helps to build trust with fans and potential customers.
- Unobtrusive – Snapchat targeting options are not as strong as other platforms out there but this can be seen as an advantage. Ads are not thrown in people’s face, hopefully making them more receptive.
- Urgency – Snapchats are short and fleeting. From a marketing perspective, these are great qualities to create scarcity and a sense of exclusivity around products.
- Vertical alignment – Snapchat videos are all displayed full screen in a vertical format unlike other platforms such as YouTube, which use horizontal video. Snapchat has found the vertical format to have a completion rate nine times higher than the horizontal format.
- Creative options – When using photos, Snapchat has a number of built-in features to aid creativity. You can add text, colors, filters and much more
- The Story function – Sprinklr describes the story function on Snapchat as the place “where brands can shine.” Story allows your ads to be seen for up to 24 hours, a lot longer than some competitors. But also it allows you to build up a relationship with potential customers with each short clip.
Case Study #1: Sour Patch Kids
Candy company Sour Patch Kids had roaring success with their “sour then sweet” campaign in 2014.
The brand teamed up with Logan Paul to produce a five-day series of stories. The stories included videos of Paul getting up to mischief with sour patch kid “blue kid.”
Snapchat was a perfect fit for the company due to its young demographic and the ability to share content in a fun and unique way. Farrah Bezner, Mondelez’s marketing director for the company’s candy division explained, “Snapchat is a quick, easy and fun way to communicate that provides a different kind of creative expression than other platforms.”
The campaign generated:
- 120,000 new followers on Snapchat
- Over 26,000 screenshots
- 583,000 impressions on the first day growing to 6.8 million on the last.
- Over 1,900 mentions on Twitter
Sour Patch Kids have since used the platform for Halloween, and Christmas, and plan to continue using the platform.
Source: Digital Training Academy
Case Study #2: Penguin Random House
Penguin Random House ran a successful campaign with Snapchat to promote their book series Girl Online. The pairing came about because the publisher wanted a real-time platform to engage with fans. The young demographic also matched the target audience of Girl Online. A range of engaging content was used including GIFs, sneak peeks, quizzes, competitions and much more.
Here are some of the snaps and responses.
Penguin Random House also used Snapchat to run the first ever Snapchat book signing where the best snaps sent were signed digitally by author Zoe Sugg and sent back. They also received a physical signed copy in the post.
The campaign generated:
- 35,000 new followers in 3 months
- A story engagement rate of 78%
Wrapping It Up
Snapchat advertising has a lot of potential already, and it’s on an upward trend. Azher Ahmed, Director of Digital Operations for DDB Chicago sums it up well, “The best and worst part about Snapchat ads is that it’s a growing platform.” There will be “growing pains” as the “purity” of content changes, which will change the way the platform works. Businesses will have to adapt. But at the same time, a newer platform brings with it a new and fresh audience.
The presence of the platform is going from strength to strength and looks to rival Facebook in the future. Couple this with its creative approach to advertising and young millennial demographic, Snapchat ads are an appealing option to add to your marketing arsenal.