For the most part, people hate ads. They perceive them as noise getting in the way – a notion exasperated on a mobile screen. The explosion of messaging apps – for now, an intimate, commercial-free setting – can be attributed to people looking to distance themselves from promoted this and sponsored that in lieu of one-to-one engagement on a personal level.
Enter the meteoric rise of Snapchat, who is rewriting the rules of mobile communication and personal expression. It should be no surprise that users are worried about Snapchat’s new advertising push.
But advertising itself isn’t the issue – bad advertising is the culprit. And Snapchat has a real opportunity to finally fix the long broken mobile advertising ecosystem once and for all.
Advertisers have looked at Snapchat for years now and drooled at the richness of its creative canvas. A native advertising medium unlike any other that is ripe for innovation, the initial ad offerings allowed for limited targeting, even less measurement, and huge price tags. But what once was a platform reserved for the biggest brands with the biggest budgets will soon be an open auction that advertisers of all sizes can compete in.
Like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and others, Snapchat has decided that a programmatic based ad environment will be the future of their revenue model, and this should come with applause from advertisers and its users. While the amount of ads and advertisers on the platform will surely increase, Snapchat has promised (fingers crossed?) that the ads will become more relevant for the user.
Snapchat has the power and product to get brands to finally invest in ad creativity that is consumer friendly, entertaining and valuable to both brands AND consumers.
To do this, it will be key for Snapchat to do four things:
- Extend the integrity built into the Discover platform. Consumers opt-into connect with publishers because Discover can surface branded content in a way that is completely immersive and engaging.
- Keep their promise to approve ads before they deploy. This certainly doesn’t stifle advertiser creativity, and Snapchat moderation should be done to ensure the most authentic experience. For the platform’s own longevity in a crowded marketplace, Snapchat will not only need to generate advertising revenue, but they will need to protect their user base.
- Continue to invest in Snapchat Partners. By inviting more partners on both the serving and creative sides, they’ll be able to grow their advertiser base, who can reach their consumers in a highly authentic and immersive way on the platform.
- Don’t just release an ads API, make it great. As we’ve come to learn, not all APIs are made the same. The functionality currently available through Google & Facebook APIs compared to Twitter and LinkedIn are night and day, and it will be up to Snapchat to decide how much control they want to give their partners.
Snapchat has a huge opportunity to improve the platform’s experience for everyone, as they can set the stage for a more effective, more inclusive method of advertising. Even consumers who “hate ads” can’t ignore the volume of favored ads that lead to great conversation, wide-spread distribution, and ultimately business success.
For the first time, it appears that Facebook and Google have some legitimate competition in the race to the top of mobile advertising.