How To Advertise on SnapChat [A Guide to SnapChat Ads]

If you’re a brand that wants to advertise online, Snapchat is probably not the first channel that comes to mind. You are more likely to think about the more popular platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or Twitter, first.

However, your choice of social network really depends on the nature of your intended audience. There is little point restricting your advertising to the big social networks if your target market uses another platform, such as Snapchat.

This is particularly important for youth-oriented brands. Snapchat and Instagram are the platforms of choice for Generation Z and the Millennials. Sure, they may have Facebook accounts, but they rarely use them – that’s where mom and dad hang out. Today’s youngsters would rather send a Snapchat Snap or Instagram Story, which will disappear within a day.

How Can Brands Advertise on Snapchat?

Snapchat Advertising Uptake Has Been Slow

Snapchat was slow to accept advertising, and when it did in 2014, it focused mainly on large brands with deep pockets. Early Snapchat ads were prohibitively expensive for many businesses. However, things have changed. Snapchat has now made it easier and more affordable for brands to advertise on their platform now.

Despite Snapchat offering a range of marketing possibilities now, brands have been slow to invest heavily in advertising on the platform, much slower than they have been to take on Instagram Stories. According to eMarketer, Snapchat controls just 0.6% of the US digital ad market. In comparison, Google controls 37.1% and Facebook (which presumably includes Instagram in their figures) 20.6%.

A report from the Social Media Examiner shows that just 8% of marketers admit to using Snapchat in the first quarter of 2018. 72% stated that they had no plans for the platform in the next 12 months. Yet, 94% of marketers use Facebook, 66% Instagram, 62% Twitter, 56% LinkedIn, 50% YouTube and 26% Pinterest.

Nonetheless, Snapchat is seeing a growth in advertising revenues. Global revenue grew by more than 50% in the first quarter in 2018. In the UK, ad revenue is predicted to double this year. In the UK, ad revenue is expected to overtake that of Twitter’s UK division in 2019.

Snapchat is Essential for Brands Targeting the Youth Market

However, despite the slow uptake of advertising on Snapchat, the platform’s popularity with the youth cannot be ignored. It is the most popular app with users aged 12 to 17. Over the next four years, eMarketer expects Snapchat to gain 1.2 million new teen users. In the same time, they expect Facebook to lose 2.2 million users in this age bracket.

Millennials and Generation Z are important to marketers. They make up almost one-quarter of the US population and spend $200 billion per year. There are many young influencers, particularly in niches such as food, fashion, gaming, music, culture, and tech. And while these influencers don’t usually exclusively spend their social time on Snapchat, they still wield a large impact on their followers on the platform.

Snapchatters are also highly engaged. According to Gary Vaynerchuk, “If you have 1,000 followers on Snapchat, 900 of them will watch your story.”

If you sell a product that is of interest to Millennials and Generation Z, you should definitely consider advertising on Snapchat.

AR is Snapchat’s Key Point of Difference Currently

Snapchat has pushed the use of augmented reality (AR) with its platform. More than 250 million AR snaps are shared every day. Snap claims that more than 70% of its users play with AR each month.

This provides huge opportunities for marketers. According to David Norris, Snap’s UK creative director, “The majority of our users have sound on, the majority are used to engaging and playing through the camera. It creates a totally different opportunity for a brand to communicate.” Indeed, Snapchatters watch 60 percent of video ads on Snapchat with the sound on. In comparison, Facebookers watch 85 percent of videos on that platform on mute.

Adidas has begun to experiment with selling products via the platform’s new shoppable augmented reality technology. This allows advertisers to add a ‘buy’ button to their AR lenses.

Know Your Audience

As with most types of marketing, the key to advertising success on Snapchat is knowing your target audience. You have to be able to attract and engage with your potential customers. If you feel difficulty in doing this yourself, (particularly if you are on the wrong side of 30) you may prefer to work with a Snapchat influencer.

Snapchat gives you the ability to highly target your advertising spend. This is especially so in the US market, which offers more granular demographic data than is available for most of the rest of the world.

Don’t try to create slick ads. The Snapchat crowd doesn’t respond well to expensive looking ads, and you don’t have enough time to attract their attention anyhow.

Ads that look natural or normal win the crowd far more than anything that looks like professional content.

Ideally, your ad should show a way to solve a problem, preferably done humorously.

You are likely to see better results if you film your video on a phone than if you use expensive professional photographic equipment.

Ways Brands Can Advertise on Snapchat

Top Snap Only

These ads display a single piece of content at the top of users’ feeds. These are static and can be run as images, GIFs, or video. You can’t add clickable hyperlinks to these ads, although there is nothing stopping you showing specific URLs as copy on your ad visuals.

These ads are ideal for promoting events, sales, or other one-off activities.

Many advertisers opt for short-form videos here, to make an eye-catching impression. These can last up to 10 seconds. Snapchat recommends you limit your ads to five or six seconds. As with all Snaps, Snapchat video ads have a vertical orientation.

Brands often use these ads to drive people to a website landing page, to watch a long-form video, or to install an app.

Snap ads usually include sound, turned on by default by most users.

Long Form Video Content

Long Form Video ads can be up to 10 minutes in total length. They are ideal for bringing attention to even longer forms of content, for example, film trailers or snippets of other substantial pieces of content, such as a YouTube series. You can include a Call to Action with these types of ads.

Long form video content ads are primarily targeted at media companies or brands that have quality media to which they want to redirect Snapchatters.

Many ads also give users the opportunity to swipe up to see more information, such as long-form content or a longer video.

Web View

Snapchat’s Web View ads are particularly useful for introducing your brand to Snapchatters.

Web View ads are similar to Top Snap Only ads. However, there is an additional feature. With Web View ads, users can swipe up on the ad and go to a particular URL. It is important that the URL relates to the ad.

Deep Link

Deep Link ads are a variation on Web View ads. In this case, when a Snapchatter swipes up on your ad he or she is also given a link to a particular web-based content location. For instance, he/she may click on a link to go to the iOS App Store (or Google Play Store if on an Android device) straight to a particular app to download.

App Install Ad

An App Install app is similar to a Deep Link app, but it bypasses any additional URLs or content links. If a user clicks on an App Install app, he or she goes straight to the relevant page at the appropriate download store to download the app you are promoting.

Sponsored Lenses

Lenses allow Snapchatters to make fun modifications to their selfies and other images. Perhaps they want to make themselves look like the Devil or some form of alien.

The youthful users of Snapchat love playing around with lenses to get the strangest and funniest looks possible. One-third of Snapchat’s users play with this feature every day.

Larger firms can create custom filters, which gets their name before Snapchat’s many users.

If your sponsored Lenses are particularly successful you will even find Snapchatters sharing their creations on other social networks, such as Twitter and Instagram.

Sponsored Geofilters

A geofilter is a graphic overlay that Snapchatters can place on their snaps. Most Snapchatters use them, to the tune of 1 billion geofilter per day. Advertisers can create geofilters, based on where they are physically located. For instance, if you operate out of the USA, you would sponsor a geofilter that would only be available to USA users.

On-Demand Geofilters

These are similar to sponsored geofilters, but they are designed to be used in a localized area for a short period. You design and upload a customized overlay. Prices start at $5 for a small area over a short time. It costs about $45 to cover a small city block.

Snapchat permits cities, universities and other public institutions to create free community Geofilters.

The Snapchat Ads Manager

Snapchat provides a free way for brands to set up and manage their ads – the Snapchat Ads Manager.

To use this you first need to set up an ad account. Once you have done this you can go to Ads Manager / Get Started.

You can use Snapchat Ads Manager to

  • create a new campaign
  • choose your audience (geographically and demographically),  and set your budget
  • create your ads
  • follow how your ads perform

Snapchat users are young, fun, and cynical. They will respond, however, to short ads that pique their interest. They also respect the views of their influencers, so you might also consider working with influencers to spread your message to Generation Z and Millennials. However, don’t crowd their style. They know how Snapchatters think.

Snapchat can be a highly effective marketing tool for relating your message to youth. Just don’t bother, if your main target market sprouts gray hair, or has reached the grand old age of 30.

About the Author
With over 15 years in content marketing, Werner founded Influencer Marketing Hub in 2016. He successfully grew the platform to attract 5 million monthly visitors, making it a key site for brand marketers globally. His efforts led to the company's acquisition in 2020. Additionally, Werner's expertise has been recognized by major marketing and tech publications, including Forbes, TechCrunch, BBC and Wired.