Mobile Marketing Social Media

Snapchat Update: 4 Paid Media Opps & How Marketers Can Best Utilize Them

November 23, 2015

Over the past year, Snapchat has become an increasingly desirable space for digital marketers. New advertising options, coupled with the platform’s rapid growth, are presenting new opportunities for brands on the platform, and making Snapchat a ‘platform to watch’ as it grows and evolves its paid media capabilities.

As recently reported by the Financial Times, Snapchat is now delivering up to 6 billion daily video views on the platform. This is particularly notable when compared to Facebook, which is currently touching 8 billion daily views. While there are many questions around how Snapchat measures views (which will be touched on in greater detail in this post), when considered as part of Snapchat’s meteoric growth, this is a noteworthy statistic for a platform that is still in its infancy.

In this post, we’ll take a deeper dive into Snapchat’s growth and evolution, and the paid media opportunities for marketers looking to grow their reach on the platform.

Why Snapchat? Why now?

Snapchat’s rapid growth is indicative of a larger industry shift towards content consumption on smartphones, with the platform seeing more than 100 million daily active users mostly representing Millennials and Gen Z. It is also suggestive of changes in how users create content. Unlike the highly curated content and personas of Facebook, Instagram, and even Twitter, Snapchat serves as a space for users to share ephemeral in-the-moment content with their followers.

While Snapchat’s reach and numbers have strong appeal for brands, it should be noted that there is some industry discussion over Snapchat’s methods for counting a video view. Currently, a “view” on Snapchat is measured as any period of time that a video is on screen, in comparison to Facebook and Twitter which count a video view at the 3 second mark on screen. Industry wide, social platforms have faced questions regarding the measurement of video and ad views, so marketers can expect the measurement and viewability of ads to become a higher priority for paid social tactics in 2016.

Paid Social Opportunities

As Snapchat continues to grow as a platform, it has rolled out a series of paid media offerings to amplify the reach and performance of branded content.

Live Stories: One of Snapchat’s longest running advertising capabilities is the insertion of paid videos within the Live Story – a content stream that lives in a user’s dashboard. A Live Story may feature videos of exciting events around the world – ranging from major sporting events to Diwali in India. Although paid videos in the Live Story stream can see high view numbers, it’s important for brands to understand they are also skippable.

To combat the skipping of a video, the creative used in the first few seconds of the ad is critical. The video should start with an attention-grabbing moment to keep users’ interest, and marketers should also consider the video experience should a user be viewing the video in public without sound.

Sponsored Filters: Filters are sticker-like elements that can be applied to a user’s videos and photos. In contrast to Live Story placements, users engaging with a Sponsored Filter actively choose to participate in the branded experience by selecting the filter and sharing the content with their followers.  The content stands to receive more views and authentic backing because the filter’s reach extends beyond a single user and is amplified once shared with followers or posted to a personal story – where it is then viewable for 24 hours.

There are two filter options for Snapchat – Geofilters and National filters. Geofilters can be targeted to hyper-specific locations like stores and public places, and are a natural fit for brands with physical locations or for brands that are sponsoring events. National filters, which are available to all U.S. Snapchat users during a given period of time, offer premium reach along with a higher price tag. National filters are often recommended for large branding and awareness pushes.

To encourage users to apply branded filters, marketers should develop filter creative that would be desirable regardless of if it were branded or not. For example, a filter with the text “Joe’s Optical Shop” would be much less appealing to a user than a filter with a pair of glasses that can be applied over the user’s face and text at the bottom of the frame noting that the filter is sponsored by Joe’s Optical Shop.

Sponsored Lens: Snapchat’s more recently released Sponsored Lens offering for advertisers is similar to Sponsored Filters, but utilizes facial recognition technology to create a branded image. The Peanuts Movie was the first advertiser to partner with Snapchat to create Sponsored Lenses, but given the highly engaging and shareable nature of Lenses, it’s expected that many advertisers will come to take advantage of Sponsored Lenses on the platform.

Creative considerations for this new feature will be very similar to those for a Sponsored Filter, but the additional element of recognizing users’ faces opens up even more creative opportunities for brands. A Sponsored Lens can turn a selfie into a snippet of the user turning into a monster from a horror film, or can transform a user’s surroundings into an entirely different world.

Discover Channels: Discover Channels are quick snippets of news and information from Snapchat’s publisher partners. While less popular than Stories and 1-to-1 Snaps, publishers like Buzzfeed and CNN are finding value in making video and editorial content available to Snapchat users. Typically, the opportunities for paid media within Discover Channels are video insertions within the channels’ content feeds. Advertisers are able to purchase spots across all channels, or run their ads within specific categories (for instance, entertainment-focused channels).

Many big budget advertisers are making Discover Channels work for their campaigns in creative ways. Notably, the film Spectre recently partnered with Snapchat to create a channel entirely dedicated to content about the film.

While these paid media opportunities show promise, it’s important to note they are not as mature as other platforms and have some limitations. For example, targeting capabilities remain quite broad, and marketers can be limited to gender or geotargeting only. Therefore, if the campaign objective dictates specific demo targeting, Snapchat’s current offerings may not be the right fit at this time. However, the current paid media offering is well suited for branding and awareness campaigns.


Snapchat has made great strides this past year in expanding its paid media offering. It is fully expected that Snapchat will continue to develop and build out these offerings as the platform grows and becomes more refined.

New developments are introduced on an ongoing basis, so marketers should continue to keep an eye on Snapchat’s progress and periodically re-evaluate its viability for media spend for their brands.