Why Snapchat Would Face A User Revolt If It Tries To Sell Advertising

Snapchat spiegAP Photo/Jae C. HongSnapchat CEO Evan Spiegel

Facebook shocked the tech world Wednesday when it
offered to buy Snapchatfor $US3 billion (that’s three Instagrams), and Snapchat shocked even more when it refused. Then
Google was rumoured to have considered a $US4 billion offer.

This suggests Snapchat, the app that allows users to send photos that are deleted after viewing, believes everyone is underestimating its ability to create value out of its fast-growing user base.

But if Snapchat’s plans include advertising, it might fundamentally betray those users, argues David Berkowitz, CMO of New York agency MRY, in an Ad Age op-ed.

“People using Snapchat have entirely different values from how most marketers would want to use it,” he wrote. “The crux of this is that Snapchat users value privacy, while marketers value publicity.”

As of now, Snapchat has access to users’ email addresses, phone numbers, age, timestamps and the frequency of chats. It doesn’t keep the content of Snaps, according to its terms of service.

If Snapchat began targeting ads against information such as the location of users, their gender and interests, etc., the app would no longer be perceived as the (mostly) private haven of young people alienated by office managers and family who find incriminating photos and statuses on Facebook and Twitter, Berkowitz believes.

Instead, he thinks Snapchat needs to consider paid upgrades, subscription services, and the like if it hasn’t already, because advertising is not for the brand.

Read his full column here.

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