June 18, 2015

Taking Over Advertising Ten Seconds at a Time

With all of the different platforms and outlets we can now access, our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. Wait, what were we just talking about?

Snapchat hopes to capitalize on the limited attention span of its 13-34 year old audience by advertising to its 100 million daily users in under 10 seconds. Yet with the introduction of advertising on the platform, many marketers are beginning to question its potential effectiveness. Photo courtesy of Financial Times

Snapchat, an app that allows you to send pictures to friends for a set amount of time, has taken off in the last four years.  The platform, created by Evan Spiegel and his fraternity brother at Stanford, now has 100 million daily users and is valued at more than $15 billion. Inherently, the app is not just for sharing selfies for five seconds, but is a way for friends to communicate where they are and what they’re doing.

Snapchat as a means to advertise

In terms of what advertising on Snapchat would actually look like, the platform has multiple ways for brands to share their messages. Geofilters, or location-specific overlays, allow users to easily share where they are. Numerous airports nationwide, big cities and even small towns have geofilters that are accessible to users in that location. Recently, companies like McDonald’s have created a geofilter for Snapchatters to use while at their establishment. A Snapchatter can then send this picture to friends, or even share it to all friends at once by adding it to “My story.”

The app has special live stories, where users at a certain sporting event, music festival, or even college campus can add their own pictures and share with thousands of viewers in the same region. After the Warriors won game six of the 2015 NBA Finals, a special live story called “Warriors Win It” could be viewed nationwide.

Additionally, the app has a “Discover” section where eleven brands, including Cosmopolitan, People, ESPN and National Geographic, can share short articles and visual content. Cosmopolitan, for example, has featured sponsored content from Maybelline and reaches 1.82 million users a day. The content shared by these big media brands creates a unique, interactive experience, specifically for mobile, that is curated for short attention spans. Spiegel has also discussed the importance of “thinking vertically” when it comes to creating ads for Snapchat. He emphasized that viewers are nine times more likely to watch a complete video if it is vertically oriented and takes up the entire mobile screen.

Some pitfalls

While many brands wish to stay ahead of the curve and explore Snapchat as an advertising option, many others believe that there are too many issues with the platform as a means of advertising.

Snapchat initially over-gauged advertising interest and wanted to charge $750,000 for a 24-hour campaign. The price has now dropped to 2 cents per view, or $20 per 1,000 views. When the “Discover” page first came out, the content was extremely popular. This has since dropped off; however, the page is still a way to reach a mass audience on the platform.

Many marketers are skeptical of advertising on a platform that has not been widely tested and is extremely hard to target and track. Snapchat is designed with anonymity in mind, the complete opposite of what most marketers want: campaigns with very visible targets.

Snapchat’s unique layout would force brands to create specific content for the app, which could not be reused on other advertising mediums. Advertisers question whether the platform is worth the energy and money.

Photo courtesy of LA Times  

Young audiences have gone mobile

The bottom line: Snapchat utilizes word-of-mouth in a whole new way and targets a young audience. Word-of-mouth is at the core of most campaigns and is vital for the success of a brand. Introducing this type of word-of-mouth campaign encourages brands to think differently, explore the world of mobile marketing and tap into a young target.

This app has the potential to be a successful advertising platform, contingent on carrying out Spiegel’s idea: that if marketers integrate ad content into the system of Snapchat, it will no longer seem like a burden to consumers. But will brands want to create the content? Will Snapchat be able to prove itself as a viable option in comparison to other platforms, like Facebook and Instagram? Or will others follow in the footsteps of McDonald’s, BudLight, Coca-Cola and Macy’s and try out Snapchat advertising?