A year ago it would have been a ridiculous to think that Snapchat would be a serious player in content marketing, but today that notion could become a reality.
For an app that began its life as a way to send naughty pictures to other users that disappear after being viewed, there’s always been a lot of buzz about Snapchat, but until recently it was hard to say why.
They’re still such a small company when compared to giants like Twitter and Facebook. Their app has only slightly developed from its original concept of disappearing pictures, expanding to videos, and adding its “stories” feature, where multiple videos are stitched together in a single stream. And, only recently did it add a new “Discover” feature showing daily content from publishers like CNN and Vice that disappears after 24 hours.
But hold on. It’s that last fact that really is the game changer. Content that disappears after 24 hours. Content that disappears after you let go of the play button. Content that is practically live.
Remember when the word “live” meant you had to watch there and then or you’d miss the show?
You’d have to sit through the show at the same time each week, and more importantly you had to sit through the ads played during programming.
Thus we stumble upon Snapchat’s opportunity to monetise.
Brands love advertising against live content, and the fact that Snapchat’s biggest audience is 15-25 year olds -the demographic most coveted by advertisers- is a point of difference to its biggest rivals.
Ever since adults have infiltrated Facebook and Instagram, teens have fled, looking for alternatives. Snapchat’s ephemeral nature is therefore attractive to them, plus there’s less pressure as a user. No follower count, no likes and generally less judgement.
Being full of “friends” willing to judge your latest DP, or the ‘like’ count of your latest status deeming your rate of relevance, Facebook -while having the biggest user base- can be an awful experience as a user.
Instead Snapchat is still small, simple, with very few functions and endless potential. Brands haven’t ruined it yet.
Do I hear you say, “It’s only a matter of time”?
Well, that’s true. But the very nature of how one consumes a ‘snap’ assures that the stigma that comes with other forms of online ads won’t be as destructive as we’ve seen in the past.
Because the content is different.
Vanity Fair’s Oscars party story stream is a fantastic example of how Snapchat content separates itself from amateur videos on YouTube. In the case in point the publisher is taking you beyond the red velvet carpet and into a party full of the biggest stars on the planet. Not in a stale staged way, but instead in an intimate more personal way where you feel the stars are being their true selves as they party down following the biggest awards night of the year.
The NFL have done something similar before games, and numerous publications and commentators have created videos behind the scenes at fashion week.
The content’s form is targeted and more importantly, the user -who has to hold a button down to watch- is 100% engaged.
Therefore, imagine if the videos of the Oscars party had a ten second ad for “The Theory of Everything” in front of them. Or if videos for fashion week were preceded by an ad for “Ralph Lauren”. Are you getting it?
Both Facebook and Twitter’s forms of advertising are accidental encounters. Snapchat’s users instead have to opt in. You want to view the content, you have to view the ad. And the ad has to be relevant to the content. Pretty fair.
The user is targeted more easily. They’re guaranteed to engage with the ad as they’ll have to see it before the content they want to watch, which will expire once they release the button. Simple.
While this may seem like wishful thinking on how Snapchat could capitalise on its points of difference, it’s likely they’ll implement most of these suggestions as -like each new feature the service has introduced- they are iterative and intuitive moves. They’re not a huge jump, and with the discipline of making ads relevant to the content they precede, there’s less chance of gravely annoying the user base.
Furthermore, audience figures have shown how great the potential to monetise this content is.
Engagement on Snapchat during NFL games often exceeds 24 million people, which is bigger than the audience actually watching the broadcast. And with the “Discover” content from providers like MTV, Vice and Daily Mail already gaining millions of views each day, Snapchat now has the leverage to attract brands looking for effective ways to invest their ad dollars in a year when video ads are set to grow more than ever before.