"Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Today’s column is written by Stephen Blake, senior vice president of social delivery at Kinetic Social.
For years, Facebook and Twitter have tried to convince advertisers of the value of targeting consumers within their environments. Both are moving quickly and acquiring newer social apps, such as Instagram and Vine. At the same time, they’re essentially writing the rulebook for social advertising on desktop and mobile.
Now there is a new contender moving into the space. Snapchat’s rapidly growing app is showing high levels of growth and user engagement. But because the app looks and feels very different from Facebook and Twitter, Snapchat can’t simply borrow ideas and tools from traditional digital or social advertising.
As a result, Snapchat must now write its own standards and rules for advertisers eager to tap into this growing audience. As it does, it faces several unanswered questions.
How will Snapchat measure ad effectiveness? Measurement is essential to advertising, and Facebook and Twitter have evolved their ad products over time accordingly.
Facebook launched its ad products in a different, desktop-only era, using existing click-tracking technology to help advertisers capture their audience for downstream earned media value. Facebook has come a long way to demonstrate that value, to the point where its most recent earnings report shows that the company made 80% of its revenue from mobile ads.
Twitter, too, places ad impressions primarily on mobile devices and has shown strong results, particularly in real-time event marketing and video. Like Facebook, it has strong proprietary measurement tools for mobile.
Snapchat began as a mobile app, and while that mobile-centric approach grants it a small advantage in an increasingly mobile ad environment, the company is still far behind the other players in terms of ad product development. And even some of those established players are struggling to catch up to industry leaders Facebook and Google. These platforms do have some form of cross-device attribution model that uses unique IDs to link consumers. They also have a good amount of user data that can be leveraged to target and optimize campaigns.
This becomes a question of the kinds of data Snapchat has and how they make that available to brands. Will measurement be limited to engagement and view rates? Or will the product start with more detailed metrics, such as brand lift and reach, with the promise of premium placements?
A clear measurement strategy is the first step in earning budgets.
The natural follow-up to measurement is return on investment for advertisers. How do those metrics translate to sales and brand revenue?
Facebook and Pinterest are popular ad tools because they can demonstrate valuable conversion lift. Brands can easily see the value of the ad long after the ad has been served.
Snapchat needs to offer as much detail as possible about what user activity looks like. This is a very different channel from Facebook, Twitter or any other social platform we’ve seen. The company will have to show that it can prove the value of its users during and after ad exposure.
Will Snapchat users ignore advertising? This question is perhaps the most important and a common problem for social engagement platforms.
If engagement is low, ROI will be low. Snapchat needs to figure out the best method to get users to engage with the ads they see. That will require carefully examining ad formats, the types of engagement prompted and the way users flow after ad exposure.
The answers to these questions are evolving for each platform so it benefits Snapchat to address them as soon as possible. The app is growing fast and in the unique position of launching ad products in our current mobile-first environment.
Advertisers understand the value in growing audiences and deep engagement, but it’s up to Snapchat to demonstrate how its ad products will deliver results to marketers.