Snapchat used to be the one social media platform on which users could enjoy freedom from advertisement bombardment. Then a few ads here and there started popping up. The reason Snapchat wasn’t immediately flooded with ads and struggled to gain traction with advertisers was because brands didn’t feel it was worth the cost considering there was limited targeting and no analytics to prove the ads were working. Snapchat was only ever used if someone had extra to spend in their marketing budget—they were experiment ads. Until this last year, Snapchat has stayed true to its belief in avoiding “creepy advertising”— the type that follows you around and watches your every move during your daily online life. While Snapchat has not gone so far as that as others like Facebook have done, they have implemented new ad targeting options to work within Snapchat. Snapchat ads will now be targeted and relevant rather than the previous random ads.
When Snapchat first began its advertising, ad targeting was limited to age, gender, and location. While it was better than no targeting at all, it just didn’t work. Not every 20-year-old girl is interested in cooking, and not every 23-year-old guy is interested in sports gear. That’s because people who are the same age and gender don’t all have the same interests. To target ads better, you need to know things like their demographics, socio-economic background, and interests—ultimately, you have to get creepy about it.
Why are Snapchat Ads Turning to the “Creepy” Strategy?
It all started when Snapchat decided to monetize themselves. It began with having sponsors and turned into displaying random general ads. Since more than 100 million people use Snapchat to watch 6 billion videos daily, Snapchat would appear to be a great platform to jump on. Even though Snapchat ads cost a lot to run, they still weren’t getting enough money to be a steady source of income due to the fact advertisers weren’t convinced it was working. Prior to the money, Snapchat’s founder declared that he believed targeted ads to be “creepy” and wouldn’t be used on Snapchat’s platform. That was the case until it became clear they would need to implement better targeting and analytics in order to keep the money coming in. The more targeted they can make an ad, especially with solid data like an email address, the more money they can make from advertisers. Following Snapchat’s policy changes at the beginning of the year, they are now working to find a balance between pleasing their advertisers without scaring away their users with a breach of privacy.
Why Target People at All?
While this is news for Snapchat, targeted ads are the norm for most platforms. These days, people may not even think twice about the creepiness of the ads; they’ll be more annoyed at seeing them all together as it disrupts them momentarily throughout their Stories and Discover channels. Targeting is also important for ads because it’s more inviting rather than forceful. The person is at least seeing an ad for something they might potentially be interested in.
How is Snapchat Targeting Their Ads?
Branching beyond targeting only age, gender, and location, Snapchat ads can now target things like people’s behaviors, types of videos they watch, what categories they follow, and similarities amongst other Snapchat users. They do limit their level of “creepiness,” however, by limiting their tracking within Snapchat only and not outside the platform. Its 3 new ad targeting options include: Snap Audience Match, Lookalikes, and Snapchat Lifestyle Categories. At the moment, there is no option for users to restrict Snapchat’s targeting. Targeted ads can run anywhere from people’s Stories to their Discover channels.
Snap Audience Match
The biggest targeting feature that will excite marketers the most is the Snap Audience Match, which will anonymously target users based on an email address or mobile device ID. Based on their current collection of emails or mobile device IDs, brands can match that data to that of Snapchat’s to retarget their customers with more ads.
The Lookalikes method is an algorithm that links users together based on their similarities. Thanks to other platforms like Facebook, brands can know exactly who their customers are, from their income to what movies they like. Using this information, they can find others on Snapchat who have similar interests and lives and target them.
Snap Lifestyle Categories
The third feature, Snapchat Lifestyle Categories, looks at what categories of videos users tend to watch. For instance, if one user tends to watch a lot of food-related videos, food-related brands would begin to target them with their ads.
So Is All This Targeting Good News or Bad News?
Marketers are excited, but users are already getting frustrated. Many Snapchat users would admit to not even watching the entire 10 seconds of the ad; they skip it after 3. However, that doesn’t mean businesses shouldn’t use Snapchat ads at all in their marketing strategy. The problem is that these types of ads are new and barely tested. New platforms take time to understand before effective ads can be written. So don’t shy away from Snapchat ads. Now that it provides the targeting ability, this platform should be explored and conquered. Just know your audience and utilize the features Snapchat has to offer an ad campaign.