Snapchat may have shortened its parent company’s name, but the platform is ramping up its ambitions. As Snap Inc. prepares for its IPO, the company has rolled out more sophisticated ad targeting tools, begun a push for Madison Avenue partnerships, and even waded into wearable tech with Spectacles.
What do marketers need to know about Snap’s latest evolution? And what’s in store for the company post-IPO? Nick Orsini, J. Walter Thompson’s resident Snapchat savant, tells us why he’s bullish on the platform.
What about Snapchat’s platform attracted you to working with it? What excites you about it?
I was personally really late to the Snapchat game. Gradually, for me, Snapchat has replaced a lot of other social media applications on my phone and in my daily life. It’s become the preeminent way I take pictures. You’re able to photograph, but also then to add this extra level of personality to your photos. Snapchat offers group texts and a lot of the same features as Messenger or iMessage, even though they may not be as robust.
Snapchat does a lot really well, and it is a really powerful tool. Gradually, in my opinion, the flaws in Twitter, Instagram and Facebook have started to come through. Facebook and Twitter I think suffer from a lack of curation. In Snapchat, you can control your environment: who’s seeing your material, where you’re getting your information. Instagram is definitely a powerful tool for photo sharing and editing, but some of the social aspects aren’t done as well as they are in Snapchat. When you can figure out how to bring it into the marketing space, it’s a huge asset.
For marketers, how does Snapchat fit into the digital ad landscape?
To reach the 18–34 demographic, Snapchat is the premier platform. I talk to young people who say that Snapchat is exclusively what they use. You can have an IM function on it, you’re sharing content, and that’s how they’re getting their news and information.
Even though the Stories feature on Instagram has replicated a similar experience, brands seem to be staying with Snapchat. Snapchat’s ad offering is really robust, and it gives you an opportunity to create whole campaigns in the platform. It could be a lens that goes with a game that you’re launching that goes with ads in the Discovery section. You can do Snapchat takeovers in a lot of different ways.
With so much creativity and flexibility available, does that also make it more challenging for marketers?
Absolutely, and I think the real challenge is in content production. You’re moving to a totally different way of shooting video. The 9:16 aspect ratio for vertical video is a new format, a new deliverable. With Snapchat, they’re almost forcing marketers to optimize for the platform. With the exception of a movie trailer, or something like that, they really encourage the use of vertical video.
Often it’s also meant to be a really simple six-to-ten second piece that mimics the Snapchat experience. Really quick hit, simple creative works. Google is now coming to terms with just how short these pieces have to be. Google has unveiled a six-second bumper ad. So people are moving into this space. In digital we’ve seen that shorter has become the new norm, for example with the Tasty videos on Facebook. The longer pieces of content are, the more likely people are to tune out.
What makes a good Snapchat campaign? Is it different from what would make a good ad on other platforms?
A lot of times, the case study of a good Snapchat campaign is a sponsored lens, for example the Taco Bell lens or the Gatorade lens. Those were huge spends for one day, but got an insane number of impressions.