Snapchat is a simple platform that’s proven vastly popular with millennials. It now boasts about 100 million monthly users (some even suspect it’s closer to 200 million), who share about 700 million messages a day.

On Snapchat, users share images and videos that can be viewed by their friends for 24 hours. They can also add text and doodles to their creations. Users can also create a story—a collection of snaps that any of their followers can view for 24 hours. 

Last June, Snapchat debuted “Our Stories,” crowd-sourced stories created around an event or location.  While Stories document personal experiences, Our Stories showcase a collective perspective. 

The bulk of Snapchat users are 16 to 24-year-olds, but this demographic will likely expand as more age groups adopt the platform. So what’s this mean for marketers?

Snapchat advertising: An overview

Snapchat introduced advertising last October. Marketers run brief videos or images that show up as snaps in users’ Recent Updates feed. As Snapchat explains on its blog: “An advertisement will appear in your Recent Updates from time to time, and you can choose if you want to watch it. No biggie. It goes away after you view it or within 24 hours, just like Stories.”

For a “no biggie” ad, it comes with a hefty price tag. AdWeek reported the service is asking for a commitment of $750,000 per day. That’s not keeping large players like Macy’s, McDonald’s, Samsung and Taco Bell from trying out the service. On the plus side, there are certainly benefits to being an early adopter of such an innovative, relevant marketing channel, especially if your target audience is millennials. 

Criticism of the advertising program often focuses on its reporting and targeting capabilities, which are said to be limited.  Many brands simply cannot justify the resulting return on such a large investment.

“Discover,” the publisher play

Snapchat launched Discover earlier this year to help draw publishers to the platform.  Cosmo, Vice, CNN and People are just some of the publishing juggernauts that have established channels, where they share images and videos that last for 24 hours.  Publishers can even sell ads on their channels via a revenue sharing program—at a fraction of the cost of advertising directly with Snapchat.  

Many brands that aren’t ready to launch paid advertising campaigns are still establishing a presence on the platform.  Users can follow companies the same way they do friends.  Taco Bell, MTV, Glee and Acura are among the brands that have been praised for their Snapchat approaches. 

Snapchat may be free, but it still takes time, resources and creativity to create an effective strategy and relevant content with which your audience will want to engage.  Be sure you have a sustainable plan in place before getting started.

The potential of Snapcash

Through a partnership with Square Cash, Snapchat allows users to add a debit card to their account and make payments to friends.  This has tremendous ecommerce potential and could help solve the ROI/analytics issue.  If brands could deliver a coupon via a snap that drives a purchase made with Snapcash, they’ll have undeniable proof of a conversion. 

To learn more about Mediaplanet’s approach to social media marketing, contact us today.