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Snapchat says its weaknesses are actually strengths for advertisers

Matt Kapko | Nov. 14, 2014
Many social media platforms collect any and all data they can on users to help sell targeted ads. Snapchat says that strategy is 'rude' and 'creepy,' but the reality is the company can't deliver targeted ads even if it wants to.

Of course, as Snapchat attracts more brands that are willing to pay for ads, those engagement numbers could significantly decrease. The company is young and just beginning to evolve into an ad-supported network, and determining performance is a challenge. Brands that consistently attract engaged audiences, however, could want to strike while the iron is hot.

Snapchat also appears to be focusing on linear TV-like ads, which have always fallen under the "spray and pray" category of big media advertising. The 20-second Snapchat spot for "Ouija" is similar to a traditional movie trailer. Measuring accountability for these types of ads isn't easy, but Snapchat brings one clearly unique feature to the table.

Touch as a Game Changer for Snapchat Ads
Snapchat users must keep their fingers on mobile device screens to view snaps in their entirety, and the company's ads work the same way. "The fact that you have to touch the ad to watch it does give a higher indication of engagement," Kleinberg says. "If you don't want to see it, you can just let go."

By eschewing data collection and targeted ads, Snapchat could also solve digital marketing's reach issue, according to Kleinberg. 

"Marketers want to reach large audiences and they want to target as specifically as they can," he says. "The problem with that is as soon as you start honing your target, you reduce the size of the audience you reach. By eliminating the capability to target, marketers can buy larger audiences without feeling bad about 'going too broad.'"

For what it's worth, Universal Pictures told MarketingLand.com that views for its first ad were "in the millions," and it doesn't worry about Snapchat's lack of targeting because the vast majority of its users are coveted millennials. Unfortunately, this approach won't work for many brands, and big media campaigns may be the only way Snapchat can drive the revenue needed to justify its reported $10 billion valuation.

 

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