American Marketer


More Snapchat advertising opportunities are coming fast

October 31, 2014

Lisa Burdige is creative director at Rosetta Lisa Burdige is creative director at Rosetta


By Lisa Burdige

Recently as I was developing big ideas for a customer relationship marketing program for a major over-the-counter wellness brand, I started to think about Snapchat.

A global community, nowadays people are sending more than 700 million snaps and viewing 500 million "Stories" daily on the platform. Snapchat is a quick way to create brand affinity, especially in the under-30 market.

Watch out Facebook and Instagram
It is not news that Snapchat is easily the fastest-growing social media platform out there, especially in the youth market.

But recent stats from comScore and CivicScience report that Snapchat’s penetration is now at about half of 18-24-year-old smartphone users, up from less than one-third a year earlier. This puts Snapchat at the third-most-popular social media channel, but just barely.

While Facebook is still ranked number one, Snapchat has almost caught up to Instagram’s 54.6 percent penetration. I would say that makes it a contender.

Despite the sensationalized headlines around “the Snappening,” Snapchat’s recent leak, Snapchat is not a dirty-picture application.

In fact, according DMR, while 77 percent of college students use Snapchat daily, only 2 percent percent use Snapchat to sext.

But what is really intriguing is what they are doing with the content from Snapchat in the real world.

According to DMR, 58 percent percent of college students would likely buy a product from a brand that sent them a Snapchat coupon. Wow.

Initially I was interested in Snapchat as a way to extend a brand story. But with that kind of targeted market engagement and potential ROI, it put recommending Snapchat into a whole new light – not just as a tool to build brand awareness, but as a strong way to get the customer journey started.

Plus, when you build brand affinity when a consumer is in college, you are setting the groundwork for a life-long relationship.

What is the story?
As a brand storyteller, the Stories feature of Snapchat has a lot of potential.

Like a Facebook wall, a Snapchat Story strings pictures together to create a narrative. While a single snap will not last very long after the recipient views it, a Story lives for 24 hours before it disappears.

Geofilters are another interesting advertising opportunity.

On Snapchat, with an easy swipe you can change the filter on a photo or add a Geofilter.

Depending on where you are, Geofilters become available. These designed visual tags name the location a picture is taken. So, if you are at Disneyland or, say, Venice Beach, CA, you can tag your picture before you snap it.

Again, this feature was only introduced in July and already there is a culture around saving out and collecting Geofilters.

Snapchat’s potential advertising limitation – the fact that the content you create disappears – also has a benefit.

“Catching the Story” drives immediacy, urgency and drama. And not all snaps disappear.

With Geofilters, photo captions and doodling functionality it is easy to customize photos and more desirable to save and share them out on other social channels, which people do.

At the end of August, Snapchat expanded the Story product with its Live section – users can contribute snaps to Stories of live events.

In less than two months, we have seen Live Stories create compelling social content around such notable events as New York’s Fashion Week and Cupertino Live in honor of the Apple Watch launch. Earlier this month, I really enjoyed the Albuquerque Balloon Festival Live.

It is no surprise that during this month’s Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel revealed that soon Stories will have ads.

“We’re cutting through the new technology around ads to the core of it, which is telling a story,” Mr. Spiegel said. “People are going to see the first Snapchat ads soon. They’re going to be around our Stories products.”

What is the time frame? “Soon” was all that Mr. Spiegel would disclose.

TRUE, THERE ARE brands using Snapchat – youth market brands, food and beverage brands such as MacDonald’s, Taco Bell and Heineken, and fashion and entertainment brands including HBO’s Girls and Free People clothing.

But all in all the percentage of marketers who use Snapchat is – are you ready? – just 1 percent.

The opportunity to stand out in this space is huge. But at the rate Snapchat is moving I would bet that the opportunity to grab the competitive edge in Snapchat is likely to disappear as quickly as your latest selfie.

Lisa Burdige is creative director at Rosetta, New York. Reach her at