The erasable messaging app, Snapchat has irked digital marketers ever since its cheeky ghost face appeared in 2011.
While big brands such as Audi, MacDonalds, Heineken have had some success with Snapchat, most seasoned digital marketers still doubt its potential as a serious advertising platform.
However, that may be about to change with Snapchat’s latest update which gives branded news and advertising priority over content from users’ personal contacts.
While this move has already proved unpopular with some of the app’s fans, it indicates Snapchat’s intention to direct more eyeballs to promoted content (and justify its recent $16 billion valuation).
So, what does this shift in focus mean for brands? Is it time for marketers and advertisers to stop treating Snapchat like the social media underdog? Well, that depends on your brand and your target market. Before jumping on any new digital marketing bandwagon, consider the following:
- Who are its primary users?
- Do they match your target audience?
- How many are using it and how often?
- How easy is it to target this market elsewhere?
Youth marketers - ignore Snapchat at your peril!
As the stats suggest below, young people love using Snapchat. Any brand keen to tap into the minds and wallets of young consumers might want to consider including Snapchat in their marketing mix:
- Snapchat now has 200 million users averaging 14 visits a day. Most of these are between 13 and 25 years of age.
- The fastest growing messaging app in 2014, 75% of the instant-messaging traffic on Vodafone’s UK network is generated by Snapchat.
- Once a cool hangout for young people, Facebook now has an average user age of 40. Recent studies show that teens are leaving Facebook to play with the new kids on the block - Snapchat and Instagram.
- According to Snapchat, over 2bn videos are viewed via the app every day. Not bad for a platform that describes itself as ‘not social media.’
It would seem that Millennials are embracing erasable media like no other demographic. So, if your brand is targeting the elusive generation Y, advertising on Snapchat would appear to be a no-brainer. As Cnet’s Jennifer Van Grove says:
Apps like Snapchat are the opposite of Facebook: simple, seemingly secret, and fun. Around schools, kids treat these apps like pot, enjoyed in low-lit corners, and all for the undeniable pleasure and temporary fulfillment of feeling cool”
In this sense, Snapchat offers brands a rare chance to earn some street cred and hang out with the young crowd. With a user-base that prefers instant engagement, Snapchat's 10-second ad format is the ideal way to connect with digital natives.
This all sounds great! What’s not to like?
Actually, there are still some very good reasons to be wary of Snapchat. From a brand perspective, Snapchat doesn’t offer the control and campaign visibility marketers rely on. Here are some of the drawbacks:
1) Digital marketing is nothing without analytics
As it stands, basic support levels are still poor. For now, brands can’t easily measure the reach of their ads or find out how many fans and impressions they’ve accrued.
2) No data-driven targeting - a mundane proposition
Your target demographic may be all over Snapchat, but you can’t precisely target ads to a specific audience. The quick deletion of content means that data-driven targeting capabilities are limited.
3) If you build it, they might not come
So you set up a branded account but how will users find you? With no search capability, it’s still hard to find and follow corporate accounts.
4) Kids don’t want advertising - unless you’re offering cheap fast food
Adverts could easily flop if they are perceived as intrusive. While brands like Taco Bell have been successful promoting special offers and food discounts, not all brands will be able to create such desirable content.
5) Wandering eyeballs
Snapchat users' attention span is very short. User content posts range from one to 10 seconds so brands need to adapt their creative content to a super short format or risk being ignored.
Snapchat’s CEO, Evan Spiegel, has made it clear that data-driven re-targeting is not an option as he desperately wants to avoid ‘creepy’ advertising. He's also claimed that Snapchat users, who despite their ad-avoiding reputation, do actually like advertising as long as the creative is engaging.
So how will digital marketers and advertisers adapt in this unfamiliar territory? As always, the best place to start is with the content. In order to reach a highly mobile, 'switched on' youth market, content must be: mobile–friendly, shareable, engaging and accessible. If you get the content right, you’ll go a long way to securing your first successful Snapchat campaign.