Social Media

Snapchat GhostIn March 2014, we wondered about the potential of Snapchat as a marketing platform. Then, in October, we explored Snapchat’s first forays into advertising.

It’s now March 2015, and Snapchat advertising is here to stay. What’s more, it appears to be working, with around 60% of users reporting that they actually enjoy watching adverts on the ephemeral messaging service.

But what exactly is Snapchat advertising? Well, whilst any brand is free to use Snapchat to promote their products or services, only those who have already chosen to follow the brand will ever see their marketing efforts. Snapchat adverts, though, have the potential to be seen by all Snapchat users. For a period of 24 hours, they appear in every user’s message feed.

Whilst the user can simply choose to ignore the advert, Snapchat advertising still has the potential to reach a global audience of millions. So is it time to make Snapchat advertising part of your existing digital marketing strategy?

Probably not.

Why? Two reasons: Snapchat has a highly specific demographic and, for brands, Snapchat can be very, very expensive. Unless things change soon, only a handful of brands will ever see a good ROI on Snapchat advertising.

Who Sees Snapchat Advertising?

In July 2014, Snapchat released the following figures concerning their users:

Snapchat Demographic

So half of Snapchat’s users are based in North America, and 52% of them are aged 13-24. Snapchat advertising, then, surely has the potential to be a fantastic way for certain B2C brands with young demographics to truly connect with their target audience. And certainly, many brands have already started to do some truly remarkable things with Snapchat advertising – brands such as McDonald’s, Samsung, Electronic Arts, and Universal Pictures.

You may have noticed that each of these brands is a multinational household name. The problem is, this is no coincidence. It turns out that Snapchat advertising is so prohibitively expensive that only the most established of brands need apply.

Snapchat Advertising is Expensive

A few weeks ago, AdWeek reported that it can cost brands nearly £500,000 a day to advertise on Snapchat.

Snapchat have not verified this, as they do not comment on their ad prices. But if this is true, it seems that Snapchat are concerned with quality over quantity. Rather than flooding the inboxes of their users with scores of adverts from scores of brands, they want to gently and unobtrusively introduce a small number of adverts from the top level category leaders.

So what do brands get for this half-million a day investment? Well, over 100 million people use Snapchat every month, and most people check their accounts around 14 times a day. This means that every Snapchat advert has the potential to be viewed by millions of people. And given the way that these adverts are accessed – users have to physically hold down the screen to see the full thing, in the knowledge that the advert will be gone forever before long – people aren’t just seeing these adverts, they’re actively engaging with them.

Is Snapchat Advertising Worth It?

For established brands with large marketing budgets, Snapchat advertising really does seem to provide a fantastic means of reaching the teenage demographic. But I can’t be the only one who thinks that this large price tag represents something of a missed opportunity.

So far, most every other social media platform has served to level the playing field. With the right strategy, any brand, regardless of their size and their sector, had the potential to compete at the highest possible level. It’s great that Snapchat seem to have found a way to turn a profit without alienating their users, but it’s a terrible shame that the platform provides very limited opportunities for SMBs.

On the other hand, whilst this price tag does seem quite high, it’s by no means unusual. Instagram, the photo messaging app that attracts a similar demographic, apparently charges brands around £300,000 to place adverts.

So it seems that Snapchat advertising may never be a viable digital marketing strategy for SMBs. Luckily, there are many, many alternatives out there, even for businesses with similar demographics and significantly smaller budgets.

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