Snapchat and the Rise of Mobile Advertising

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Snapchat’s “Our Stories” feature now has some crowdsourced images and videos (or “snaps”) generating significantly more than twenty million views. For context, the average viewership for the most-viewed shows on American television is about 17 million.

Could it be because disappearing user-generated content is better than NCIS and the Big Bang Theory? Yes, but that’s not the whole reason. Snapchat currently has around 200 million active users, with 50 percent penetration among users 18-24. What’s more, these users are very active. Due to the functionality of Snapchat, users must hold their finger on the screen to view images or videos which allows the platform to know exactly how long they are engaging.

Large media players are now involved, especially with Snapchat’s Discover feature. Discover operates as an a la carte media system in which users can select from a series of outlets that range from established channels (CNN and ESPN) to up-and-comers that have flourished in the digital age (such as Vice). Users then consume as much or as little as they want, along with non-intrusive advertising. The format lends itself to higher quality productions; Snapchat’s blog describes it as “built for creatives.” The end result is an experience that is mobile, specific to a user’s interests, free of obtrusions like preroll video ads.

So what does this mean for marketers and advertisers? In the quest to reach target audiences, specifically trend-setting millenials, Snapchat has emerged as the place where they not only gather, but actively engage (as opposed to say, passive scrolling on Tumblr or streaming TV shows to avoid commercials). Mobile advertising is not necessarily new, but between activity tracking, location targeted ads, and a single app running a $40 million ad campaign, it appears that dollars are beginning to flow away from television and desktop screens and towards the screens in hands and pockets. Snapchat has set itself apart by cultivating a young user base and an engaging platform.

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