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With more than 166 million daily active users watching 10 billion videos per day, Snapchat has a highly engaged audience that’s simply too big to ignore.

In this complete guide to Snapchat advertising, we’ll look at some key ways to use Snapchat ads to connect with fans and build your brand on this powerful network

Bonus: Download a free guide that reveals how to easily create and use a custom Snapchat geofilter to promote your business for as little as $5.

Why advertise on Snapchat?

Snapchat is a particularly important platform for brands whose target market aligns with Snapchat’s core demographics.

Consultancy Millward Brown found that 88 percent of the users who saw Snapchat ads from a campaign for men’s deodorant fit into the target 13- to 34-year-old demographic. That should come as no surprise as 86 percent of U.S. Snapchat users fall into that age category. The network reaches 41 percent of all 18- to 34-year-olds in the United States every single day.

And research conducted by MediaScience found that Snapchat video ads delivered more than two times the lift in purchase intent compared with TV and other popular social platforms.

The various Snapchat ad formats allow brands to place their messaging in Discover content or in between Snapchat Stories. (If you’re not sure of the difference, check out our Beginner’s Guide to Snapchat.) Interactive options like Sponsored Lenses and Geofilters become a seamless part of the Snapchat user experience, encouraging users to share branded content with their friends, and even across other social channels.

If your ads have a great audio track, there’s one additional reason to advertise on this particular network: 60 percent of video ads on Snapchat are watched with the sound on. That’s an especially impressive figure when you consider that 85 percent of videos on Facebook are watched on mute.

Types of Snapchat ads

Snap Ads

A Snap Ad is a (maximum) 10-second video ad that includes the option to provide more information to users who swipe up from the ad.

The additional information can be more in-depth content, such as longer videos (up to 10 minutes) or articles. Or it can be used as a way for Snapchatters to interact with your brand (or even buy) directly via an app install page or mobile website that users access without leaving the Snapchat app.

Snap ads can appear in between Stories from a user’s friends, or within premium content that appears within Discover, including Our Stories, Publisher Stories and Shows.

Snapchat also offers “sequenced messaging,” a bundle of 10-second Snapchat ad video segments that run back-to-back within Discover to mimic a longer video.

Sponsored Lenses

From puppy dog ears to rainbow barf, Lenses are a big part of what makes Snapchat so fun. And one-third of Snapchat’s daily users play with Lenses every day.
Sponsored Lenses show up alongside all the other Lenses in the menu, making it easy for users to share and post with.

Sponsored Geofilters

A Geofilter is a graphic overlay that Snapchatters can place on their Snaps. As the name implies, Geofilters are usually tied to a specific geographic location, ranging from individual store to an entire country.

On average, Snapchatters view 1 billion filters every day, and a national Sponsored Geofilter typically reaches 40 to 60 percent of Snapchatters in the United States. That’s a lot of opportunities to reach your audience.

On-Demand Geofilters

On-Demand Geofilters are the entry-level Snapchat ads option, allowing any business to get started with Snapchat advertising for as little as $5.

They’re just like Sponsored Geofilters, but available for areas as small as half a city block and time commitments as short as one hour—perfect for a small business or a special event.

Bonus: Download a free guide that reveals how to easily create and use a custom Snapchat geofilter to promote your business for as little as $5.

Snap to Unlock

This Snapchat ad uses Snapcodes on physical media such as billboards, receipts, and even coffee cups to entice users to interact with brands by accessing “secret” features within the app. Taking a picture of the Snapcode or scanning it with the Snapchat app unlocks a Sponsored Geofilter or Lens for a set period of time.

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Universal Pictures Girl on the Train Snapcode

Have you seen the mysterious billboards for The Girl on the Train in subway stations across the country? This first-to-market contextual activation for Universal Pictures unlocks custom geotagged Snapchat filters. This campaign is a prime example into Kinetic's "active journey” approach, where we leverage our knowledge of spaces and smart environments to offer location-based services that contextually activate moving audiences through mobile and social in order to create value for consumers to connect and act.#contexthacker

Posted by Kinetic USA on Friday, October 7, 2016

How to advertise on Snapchat

Self-serve Snapchat ads

On-demand Geofilters

For this advertising option, you can upload a custom Geofilter, or use Snapchat’s templates to create one in only a few clicks.

For detailed step-by-step instructions, see our post How to Create a Custom Geofilter on Snapchat.

Cost: On-demand Geofilter Snapchat ads cost as little as $5, with the price increasing based on how much territory you include and how long you make the Geofilter available. We found that a two-day Geofilter cost about $13 if we restricted it to the immediate area around our office, $45 if we expanded it to our full city block, and nearly $3,000 if we expanded the area to the maximum 5 million square feet (about 70 city blocks).

Bonus: Cities, universities, and other public locations can create free community Geofilters. Brand logos are not allowed, but this is a great opportunity for cities to highlight the work of local artists.

Take a look at this Geofilter in Houston created by local graffiti artist Gonzo247 (notably share on social media by DJ Khaled).

@djkhaled posting that #houston snap! #snapchat

A post shared by gonzo247 (@gonzo247) on May 6, 2016 at 2:25pm PDT

Snapchat Ads Manager

Of course, on-demand Geofilters are no longer the only self-serve option for brands. In June 2017, the social app launched a new platform that allows businesses to buy video Snap ads without going through Snapchat or one of its ads partners.

The new Ad Manager allows Snap advertisers to create, optimize, and manage campaigns. It offers the option to choose an objective, maintain a creative library and edit target audiences, among other features.


Ad Manager is much more accessible than previous advertising options on the platform (apart from on-demand Geofilters). Businesses simply have to sign up to use Ad Manager and the tool itself is free to use (apart from any advertising costs, of course). The tool also offers the ability to pay with a credit card.

And there’s more in the form of three additional new tools for advertisers. The mobile dashboard lets advertisers preview ads, track performance, edit and pause campaigns, and receive notifications about key metrics.

Business Manager, on the other hand, lets brands configure roles and permissions for ad team members, manage different accounts, and change billing contacts.
And finally, Snap Publisher gives advertisers the opportunity to import existing brand assets to use in Snapchat ads, convert horizontal videos into vertical ones to make them a better fit for Snapchat’s mobile format, use templates for different campaign objectives, add motion to static images, A/B test ads, and purchase ads through Ad Manager in a single click.

Snapchat ads placed through Snapchat or a Partner

If your approach to advertising is a bit less DIY and a bit more leave-it-to-the-professionals, Snapchat has advertising options for you too. There are two primary methods to choose from.

1. Work directly with Snapchat

When you work directly with Snapchat to create ads, you get access to the same creative team that designs the brand’s consumer products. You can connect with Snapchat’s ad team on their website.

2. Work with Snapchat Partners

Snapchat works with two types of partners, both of which can help brands develop Snapchat ads and place them on the network. Ads Partners develop Sponsored Geofilters and Lenses, while Creative Partners develop ad campaigns. Snapchat also has a few select Certified Partners who have received additional training and take precedence in referrals.

Cost: They aren’t cheap. Adweek reported that Sponsored Lenses cost between $600,000 and $750,000 per day in the summer of 2016. The average price has since dropped to around $330,000. Meanwhile, Snap Ads video offering range from about $40 to $60 per thousand impressions—on par with a TV ad. AdAge reported that Snapchat also recently introduced “goal-based bidding,” where advertisers can pay per swipe rather than just per view.

Snapchat ad targeting

Snapchat offers over 300 preset audiences, based on things like what Snapchatters care about, buy, and watch as well as where they go.

Advertisers can break audiences down further by age, location, device, household income, parental status, and more.

In addition to targeting by age (for instance, to ensure 13-year-olds don’t see beer ads), Snapchat also offers comprehensive targeting options:

  • Snap Audience Match: Targets Snapchatters based on email addresses and mobile device IDs
  • Snapchat Lifestyle Categories: Targets Snapchatters based on the categories of content they engage with on Snapchat
  • Lookalikes: Targets Snapchatters similar to a brand’s existing customers

These targeting options are available for Snap Ads. This includes those created using the self-serve Ad Manager tool as well as ones purchased through Snapchat or its partners. Geofilters can be targeted by geographic area (“geofence”) only.

Snapchat has also partnered with Oracle Data Cloud to target Snapchat ads using Oracle’s approximately 100 audience segments based on purchasing behaviors both on- and offline.

Snapchat ad tips and examples

Snapchat is a highly engaging, vertical format which means that ads created for this platform may differ somewhat from those your business runs on other social networks.

As with anything, be sure to test, test, test to find out works best for your audience. Play with things like timing, ad type, and video format. Don’t be afraid to try live vs. animated videos, GIF-style clips, stills, or even cinemagraphs.

Make the content fun and interactive

Snapchat is an interactive medium, where users are accustomed to engaging with filters and Lenses to create fun, shareable Snaps. Snapchat ads that embrace this playful feel give your creative the best chance of resonating with Snapchatters.

When Universal Studios brought its launch campaign for The Secret life of Pets to Snapchat, the studio created a Snap Ad that allowed users to swipe up to create a Petmoji using a movie-branded tool. Snapchatters spent an average of 72 seconds interacting with the movie’s content and characters through the ad and the Petmoji creation tool.

Gatorade took things even further to create an old-school 8-bit game featuring Serena Williams as she worked towards her record 23rd Grand Slam win. Snapchatters accessed the game by swiping up on a Snap Ad and spent an average of more than three minutes (196 seconds, to be precise) interacting with the game.

Go for highly shareable filters and lenses

Give Snapchatters the chance to create a fun, souped-up selfie with a Sponsored Lens, and chances are they’ll post it to their Story and maybe even share it to other social networks, like Twitter or Instagram. That means they’re doing your Snapchat advertising work for you, expanding the reach of your branded content while encouraging friends and followers to seek out your Snapchat account so they can play with the Lens themselves.

When 20th Century Fox launched X-Men: Apocalypse, they replaced all the Snapchat Lenses for a day with X-Men Lenses that let Snapchatters turn themselves into X-Men characters. Users spent an average of 109 seconds playing with the Lenses.

Kraft added a fun twist to its Sponsored Lens by adding a score count tallying how many falling macaroni noodles users could virtually catch in their mouths while using the Lens. Since everyone likes to show off a high score, it was a natural way to boost shares. Snapchatters spent an average of 20 seconds playing with the Lens, which reached nearly 20 million users in 24 hours.

Keep it short and snappy to hook viewers quickly

While Snapchat’s video ads can be up to 10 seconds each, the app itself recommends keeping duration closer to the five or six second mark. The company also suggests providing an offer message within the second or third second of the ad’s runtime.

With these shorter timeframes in mind, Snapchat also recommends establishing a “brand moment” before the two-second mark to maximize awareness. But they caution against opening ads with a solid frame featuring a logo or product shot. Instead, it’s best to open ads with dynamic footage to catch viewer attention right from the get-go.

If you’re not sure you’re ready to commit your advertising budget to Snapchat, but you want to start marketing on the network, check out our posts on the basic and advanced tactics of Snapchat marketing for some organic Snapchat marketing ideas.

Hootsuite’s on Snapchat! Click this link on mobile to go directly to Hootsuite’s profile or scan the Snapcode below to add Hootsuite as a Friend on Snapchat.


With files from Kendall Walters.

The post Snapchat Ads: The Complete Guide for Business appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.