In just three short years, Snapchat has become one of the most popular and widely used apps, largely thanks to the younger generation. The picture messaging app allows users to take and send picture or video “snaps,” and send them to friends, who may then view them for up to 10 seconds before the snap disappears. That description probably was not necessary, however, as I am sure that all of us have, or are at the very least familiar with the app. In the short time it has been around, it has become something of a cultural phenomenon among teens and young adults, and is currently the #6 most downloaded free app on Google Play, ahead of apps like Netflix and Spotify. Snapchat has proven to be a great way to market and has spread past friend-to-friend communication with new features like “Our Story,” which compiles snaps from various users that all pertain to a single, common event that users are attending. Our Story has become hugely popular at sporting events such as the World Cup, as well as other large gatherings like music festivals.
Despite its success and wide range of users, Snapchat has never had any source of revenue; until now. Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel announced that the app will start to incorporate advertisements for the first time, but will be doing so in the spirit of the app’s “disappearing” messages. Snapchat’s ads, like the photos sent on the app, will come with a timer. Spiegel plans to execute this new plan by inserting advertisements into the Snapchat Stories feature, where users compile photos and videos they have taken in a 24-hour period to form one “story.” These ads will appear in Snapchat Stories in between the photos and videos shared by users. Furthermore, Spiegel says these advertisements will not be targeted to individual users based on their taste.
I think this is a very interesting strategy that could prove beneficial for Snapchat. Advertising successfully through an app can be very tricky due to the fact a lot of people simply do not like ads. I am sure I’m not the only one who eagerly taps the “Skip Ad” option on YouTube videos as soon as the first five seconds are up. While incorporating ads into the app is sure to bring in new revenue for Snapchat, there is a good chance it will upset and annoy many users as well. I think Snapchat realized this, and built this advertising strategy with that in mind. This method is laid back and doesn’t make the user feel as though they are having the ads shoved down their throat. The ads being untargeted is a big part of this, as targeted ads can sometimes overwhelm consumers. However, the best part about this new advertising strategy in my opinion is the fact that they stay true to the overall theme of Snapchat: disappearing messages. The fact that the ads will appear like any other picture in a Snapchat Story makes them blend in almost seamlessly, and makes them feel more natural. “We’re cutting through a lot of the new technology stuff around ads to sort of the core of it, which I think has always been telling a story that leaves people with a new feeling,” Spiegel said. “They’re not fancy. You just look at it if you want to look at it, and you don’t if you don’t.” What this means is that if a user does not want to see a particular ad, they can skip past it to the next picture in the story by tapping their screen.
I feel like this is a very safe way for Snapchat to transition into having ads without changing the integrity or functionality of the app, which is something users are sure to appreciate. Spiegel did not specify when these new ads will start appearing in Snapchat, so keeps your eyes open for the next update.
How do you feel about this strategy? Is it a good or bad idea that the ads are going to be untargeted?
Macmillan, D. (2014, October 9). Snapchat CEO Spiegel Says Untargeted Advertising is Coming Soon [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2014/10/09/snapchat-ceo-spiegel-says-untargeted-advertising-is-coming-soon/