July 8th 2016

Snapchat and Marketers.

Posted by Will Shadbolt

These days, it's not rare for social media apps to turn to advertising to make their companies more sustainable. What is rare is for the young CEO of one of these to receive top billing at Cannes, arguably the advertising industry's biggest event. Last year, 25-year-old Evan Spiegel gave a talk there about Snapchat, an app that allows users to send messages and pictures that disappear after viewing. And ever since then, the ad buzz surrounding the app hasn't lessened at all. 

There are a few different ways to advertise using Snapchat. Brands can buy ad space in the "Discover" section, which allows people to browse ads from various companies, ranging from IGN and ESPN to Cosmopolitan. They can also see snap stories from people in nearby areas or events on this page, and ads are inserted into these rolls. Additionally, when viewing stories that friends have posted, ads sometimes sneak in between the videos and pictures.

Another way of advertising on the medium is to make sponsored Lenses or Geofilters. Snapchat has a number of normal filters that let users change the coloring or look of their photos, but brands are welcome to be more creative. Examples include: a filter that added a cooler of Gatorade to be poured on the user, implemented for the Super Bowl; one created in-house by Taco Bell for Cinco de Mayo that turned peoples' faces into giant tacos and poured hot sauce down on to them; and a filter from Sony that made people look like mutants to hype up the movie X-Men: Apocalypse. All of these generated millions of views. The Taco Bell filter broke Snapchat records by netting 224 million views in a single day. 

But brands are still getting used to the app. Creating a good Snapchat page involves a lot of planning, coordination and original content, whereas on Instagram, companies can fill their pages with user-generated content for a lot less effort. As such, although some brands have started moving towards Snapchat, Instagram still has more active company pages. Of the companies who do use Snapchat, they tend to put up more posts on there than they do on Instagram, but post more regularly on Instagram. 

Still, for videos, Snapchat vastly outperforms its rival, and brands are slowly catching on and using the platform in inventive ways. Warby Parker uses Snapchat to tell "stories" in as many as 20 snaps. General Electric Appliances, meanwhile, directly engages with users. For instance, they encouraged viewers to send snaps to the company page in order to help them name a hot sauce. So while for now Snapchat is nowhere near the biggest social media marketing platform, and the company is expected to continue growing. 

For this year's Cannes show, besides a major digital ad, Snapchat was thought to be notoriously absent. The company, however, held a secret party for agency execs, including a number of important Snapchat executives, like Evan Spiegel. While it is not quite clear why the company took this quiet approach—theories vary from Spiegel not enjoying public speaking to the company wanting brands to come to them to reinforce their cool image—Snapchat still generated a lot of talk this year at the show. Who knows what they will do next year at Cannes? 

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