Why advertisers simply cannot ignore Snapchat any longer

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When Snapchat landed in the social mediasphere in 2011, the platform was one of many young hopefuls, sniffing around for a slice of the action.

Spurred on by the excitement of the digital gold rush, Snapchat joined a long queue of tech startups, all clambering to be the next Facebook or Twitter.

In the rapidly evolving universe of social media and digital communications, we tend to see more shooting stars than permanent planets. But Snapchat has stood the test of time and is now attracting attention from advertisers who recognise the platform’s potential for reaching one of the most lucrative, most sought after and most notoriously difficult to crack target audiences – the youth market.

As young audiences drift further away from TV, and their enthusiasm for more established social media platforms (like Facebook) wanes, Snapchat is the latest beacon of hope for Fortune 500 advertisers struggling to keep their brands top-of-mind with young people.

A Snapshot of Snapchat

To the uninitiated, the underlying logic of Snapchat seems oddly fleeting and transient — users basically share brief video bites that disappear into the cyber ether shortly thereafter. In a digital culture where content is regularly heralded as king and data is thought to explain everything, it’s all very throwaway.

But let’s take a look at the Snapchat stats to better understand who’s using the platform and why they seem to love it so much.

  • More than 60% of 13 to 34 year-old smartphone users in the US are Snapchatters
  • Over 8 billion video views on Snapchat every day
  • Snapchat is home to more than 100 million daily active Snapchatters
  • Over 60% of people who use Snapchat daily create content every day
  • 93% of Snapchatters exposed to the Furious 7 Snapchat ad liked or loved it
  • Up to 8x US 13 to 34 year-olds view Live Stories (Snapchat) vs TV for similar events

More so than any of its social media predecessors, Snapchat is a platform almost exclusively inhabited by young users. As the chart below shows, only 14% of monthly Snapchat users are over the age of 35. Snapchat is overwhelmingly popular with Gen Y and Millennials.

Photo: Supplied.

An Overview of Snapchat Advertising

It is not a fully developed ad platform yet – but Snapchat has game-changing aspirations. Due to the nature of content distribution on the platform, brands can essentially cut to the chase and advertise to Snapchatters without first building up a following.

Advertising first appeared on Snapchat in October 2014, when NBCUniversal slotted a 20-second trailer for the film “Ouija” on the public Snapchat video feed. Since then, brands and entertainment companies have paid close attention to developments at camp Snapchat.

A New Format

Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images.

Unlike banner ads or typical videos, the Snapchat ad format is big and vertical. The unconventional format requires a creative investment that some brands and agencies are reluctant to make for a new, uncharted medium.

According to team Snapchat, that investment is well worth it because vertical videos are much more engaging than horizontal ones. The rationale here is that Snapchat’s user-friendly vertical viewing format is more conducive to full, uninterrupted viewing of ad content than traditional formats, which require users to tilt their smartphone or device on its side in order to view video content.

Known as 3V ads, Snapchat advertising appears inside premium and curated contexts. 3V ads are about more than views, the aim is to deliver high quality ads made for easy smartphone viewing.

On Discover, 3V ads appear in the context of rich media content from Snapchat partners. In Live, 3V ads appear in the context of exciting Snaps submitted by the wider Snapchat community and curated by team Snapchat.

Snapchat offers ad targeting in a way that also respects Snapchatters’ privacy. Depending on your campaign goals, Snapchat ads can be targeted by Live Story program, Discover Channel, location, and/or gender. For example, you could target the Cosmopolitan Discover Channel or the Father’s Day Live Story if they align with your brand. And the effectiveness of your campaign can be measured with a robust set of first-party post-campaign metrics. Snapchat works closely with industry-leading measurement partners to make it easier for advertisers to determine the reach and impact of their ads.

Snapchat in Australia

Photo: Evan Agostini/Getty Images.

There are more than 3 million daily active users, confirmed Snapchat as of March, 2016. Compared with the 15 million strong community of Australians who actively use Facebook, the Snapchat community may seem relatively small but its youthful composition is what makes it especially interesting to advertisers.

A recent survey of Australian Snapchat users revealed the following insights:

  • 47% of Australian Snapchat users are aged between 16 and 25
  • Funny videos are the most popular thing to post on Snapchat
  • 34% of 16 to 19 year-olds use Snapchat daily
  • 61% of Australian Snapchat users are female
  • 66% of Australian Snapchat users have less than 20 friends
  • 47% of Australian Snapchat users send both images and videos

Is Snapchat Poised to Revolutionise the Advertising Game?

With Snapchat’s advertising model still in its early experimental stages, it’s impossible to ascertain just how much impact advertisers can expect from the platform.

What is unquestionably clear is that Snapchat has cultivated and captivated a prized niche audience – namely, the youth audience. For Australian brands struggling to engage that youth market, Snapchat is a relatively untapped resource that certainly warrants exploration.

Nital is the founding director at Octos Digital Marketing Agency. He has served big corporate brands of Australia and has more than 10 years of experience under his belt with a profound level of expertise in search strategies, planning and management.