"On TV And Video" is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in advanced TV and video.
Today’s column is written by Patrick Hanavan, co-founder and chief client officer at Extreme Reach.
Snapchat became the darling du jour of the media and advertising world after its recent IPO.
While I’m not yet convinced it’s the TV replacement that some media executives make it out to be, it does have an innovative approach that pushes the boundaries of advertising with its deep knowledge of users’ viewing habits, interactivity and unique targeting options. It’s time for TV advertisers looking to invigorate their own campaigns to sit up and take note of Snapchat’s playbook.
Snapchat’s ability to offer a mobile-focused “TV-like” consumption experience is one of the many ways it drives consumer engagement. Swipe over into the company’s “Discover” feature and it’s easy to see why this feels like a full-screen, smartphone-based version of channel surfing, allowing mobile users to cycle through an appealing range of content at the flick of a thumb.
The most interesting feature of this TV-style experience for advertisers is how users navigate between clips with screen taps and swipes. These gestures provide Snapchat with granular, second-by-second knowledge of who’s watching and for how long, data that the company shares with partners to improve future creative efforts.
This highly specific understanding of viewing habits is what TV advertisers have longed for. This data is increasingly available via TV thanks to addressable TV, over-the-top broadcast apps and cross-device advertising tools that provide advertisers with better options to understand how consumers engage with their campaigns.
Another interesting aspect of Snapchat’s TV-style experience is the interactivity option it provides to advertisers. Snapchat offers a feature where users can “swipe up” during ad content to immediately buy products from a sponsor’s website, and the company’s sponsored lenses create a fun, participatory tool for users to insert themselves into marketing campaigns.
While some interactivity options do already exist for TV, more offerings in this area will be well received by brands. Advertisers like BMW are testing interactive ads on connected TVs that let viewers customize car features using their remote control. It’s a great example of the kind of creative possibilities that brands would undoubtedly like to see across more TV ad inventory.
Snapchat’s mobile-first platform blends the aforementioned TV experience with a growing range of digital targeting options. While digital advertising has long excelled at targeting, it has struggled to match the scalability of TV. With Snapchat, the best of TV and digital advertising are starting to come together in one ad platform. Digital competitors like Facebook and Google can still beat Snapchat with the granular goal-oriented features of their ad targeting tools, but Snapchat is among the first to blend the engagement of a TV-style consumption experience with the precise targeting of mobile devices.
Snapchat advertisers can target based on factors such as user location, age and gender. The company also offers new features like Audience Match, which lets advertisers get more granular with behavioral targeting and device ID matching.
For TV advertisers, more sophisticated targeting tools are coming to market that offer similar Snapchat-style opportunities. New techniques give advertisers much more control to make buying decisions based on target audiences. And as major media players like AT&T, NBC and Fox get more involved in the programmatic space, opportunities to buy data-driven, targeted TV are expanding rapidly.
Although Snapchat is making headlines, this upstart competitor shouldn’t have a monopoly on innovation. The same features that make Snapchat interesting, including deep insight into user viewing habits, more interactive ads and new forms of targeting, are all increasingly available for TV advertising as well. As TV becomes more like digital and vice versa, it’s only natural that the lines between these two approaches will continue to blur.