Recently Snapchat the self-destructing messaging app launched its first live advertisement. The advertisement was for the upcoming horror movie Ouija by Universal Pictures and has had millions of views. This is a huge step for Snapchat because until now the messaging platform has had tens of millions of users but no strategy to monetize their traction. According to reports, Vice President of Digital Marketing at Universal Pictures Doug Neil is satisfied with the results of the advertising campaign so far. Snapchat was previously used by Universal Pictures to promote movies but only in a way that was organic which means it took time to build up real followings to view their promotions. However, the new paid advertising allows for Universal to get their advertisement in front of millions of targeted people. Most of the users on Snapchat are teenagers to people in their early twenties which is the perfect demographic for this new movie.
One of the reasons Snapchat’s ads have so much potential is because users actually have to intentionally press on the ads and hold their finger on the video in order for it to play. The result is that users are actively engaging in viewing an ad so they are paying more attention to it instead of subconsciously dismissing it. Doug Neil was quoted saying that “It was a lean-in experience. The people who watched the ad were ones that pressed to play so they were focused on actually viewing the content.” Additionally there were many people who shared the ad on other social platforms which only means more views and impressions for Universal Pictures. It is likely that there will be many more sponsored ads on Snapchat and this is just the beginning. As Snapchat continues to be polished it could become a very profitable advertising platform for marketers who are looking for a focused and effective way to reach their audience.
Snapchat has over 100 million active users on its video and messaging app, a good chunk of which has viewed Universal’s 20 second trailer for Ouija. In a blog post Snapchat explained that it’s the first time they have launched a sponsored ad and that it feels weird but they are taking the plunge. Snapchat continued on to say that they believe the best advertisements tell you more about stuff that actually interests you and that’s what they hope to do. Many companies spend a lot of time collecting data about you to figure that out in a way that is quantified but Snapchat has a much more simple way. In users “Recent Updates” an advertisement will pop up from time to time and if you choose to watch it you can but if you don’t Snapchat says it’s no big deal. The advertisements go away after 24 hours just like their Stories feature.
They promise not to put advertisements in your personal communication such as your Snaps or Chats, saying that it would be totally rude. However, they want to see if they can deliver an experience that is informative and fun, the way that advertisements used to be before they got so targeted from huge collections of data. Snapchat is a free app but as pointed out in their blog the reason they’re introducing advertisements to their service is to make money. The advertisements allow Snapchat to support their service and they will use the money to make more great products for the Snapchat community. For now the advertisements are only available to U.S. users who make up the majority of the services user base anyway.
No one knows how much Universal is paying for the advertisement, but the reason they decided to advertise with Snapchat in the first place is because they “Like to select media platforms that are appropriate for their audience,” adding on that they have been closely following Snapchat and how it has been adopted into the social networks and that it seems to be right in the core of their target audience for the movie Ouija. Universal Pictures believes Snapchat has been talking to all of the studio and entertainment companies and brands for a while now but that they just haven’t had the opportunities previously. Universal Pictures says they have been having conversations with them for a long time and was just waiting for the right opportunity to present itself to advertise on the platform.
Snapchat picked up Instagram’s Emily White, the executive responsible for introducing advertisements to Instagram, in December 2013 to become the company’s chief operating officer. Doug Neil also says Snapchat specifically requested them to do a video advertisement and that Sony edited the trailer to fit in the 20 second time frame by using small video bursts the way a Snapchat story would be created. Snapchat has been growing rapidly in the last few years with the Wall Street Journal reporting in August that two thirds of Snapchat’s 100 million monthly active users using the messaging app every day. Snapchat was valued at $10 billion in its last funding round despite having no revenue. The company famously declined a $3 billion dollar acquisition offer from Facebook in 2013 so they could remain independent.
Snapchat’s appeal to huge brands, teenagers, and people in their early twenties is becoming increasingly popular. Research firm comScore reported in August that 32.9% of 18 – 34 year olds in the US use the app. This is also the demographic that does the most online shopping, so when it comes to affiliate marketing for example there’s a lot Snapchat can potentially offer. There are a number of ways Snapchat can be used to help boost affiliate marketing profits. Since Snapchat is a messaging app that implies having a sense of urgency, this can be used to make limited one time offers for an online store for example. An affiliate marketer could send a snap with a coupon code to use immediately and an explanation of what it can be used for. They can provide recipients with an expiration code for the coupon and watch to see how users react.