Snap – longevity as a social media and advertising platform
When Snap launched back in 2011 its popularity grew rapidly with a younger user demographic who engage with the concept of “capturing a moment”. By February 2018, Snapchat had 187 million daily active users. Whilst a highly engaged user base, Snap has seen a plateau in user growth figures and needs to avoid suffering a fate of decline after initial success.
Snap has continually sought new ways to develop the platform to keep and grow its user base, with Stories being launched in 2013 (and since adopted by social giants Facebook and Instagram) and Discover in 2015 – a true integration with partner publishing brands to ensure Snap became a destination for users to consume mainstream content, as well as user generated activity.
The devil’s in the data
As with almost all digital platforms, Snap’s business strength lies in the data its users share for advertisers to ultimately use to target their audiences.
The most recent launch of the Snap Audience Network highlights the pressure to build the advertising opportunity for brands outside of the Snapchat platform. The Snap Audience Network announcement follows recent developments such as Snap Games where users play mini-games, fuelled by advertiser revenue in the form of six-second ads, plus the incentivized element where users can watch advertiser content in order to earn game coins.
Similar to Facebook and Twitter, harnessing the power of their user data to target the Snap audience elsewhere with Snap ad formats makes a compelling opportunity for brands. The Snap demographic is notoriously hard to reach with traditional advertising channels e.g. TV, and whilst Snap is established in some senses, it remains relatively untested for some brands. Therefore, the extension of the Snap Audience Network does become a convincing proposition for advertisers to strengthen their media executions, power campaign targeting, and give the ability for sequential messaging.
Advertisers do need to be aware of the measurement of media executions, with the metrics sometimes being difficult to track back to business outcomes (e.g. swipe up). However powerful the data potential, a cost benefit analysis is required to assess the cost of the Snap data vs return on advertising.
The long and short of it
Snap is very much following the pattern of social networks gone before. Its potential seems powerful, with rapid growth since start-up – but now the pressure is on. Snap’s IPO was two years ago and investors are keen to see the business developing and making profit. The network needs to monetize its content without abusing the trust of its user base, so it can ultimately keep building what keeps Snap alive – its data.