Snapchat Advertising – Scary but not Creepy?
On Friday, Snapchat announced they were placing an ad in their Recent Updates section for American users of the app.
The advert they are running is for new movie: Ouija from Universal Pictures. Neither the app creators nor movie studio have divulged the price of the placement.
Using Snapchat to promote a movie with the theme of spooky unwanted communication, was an inspired idea and Universal clearly gained their desired result; people are talking about it.
From Topsy we can see a spike in mention on Twitter around the movie title. The spike not only correlates with date of the Snapchat advertising but mention of the movie title in conjunction with the term Snapchat.
Some US users were intrigued:
— courtney (@runawaywithit) October 18, 2014
Some were scared:
— Grant Kraus (@G_Easy5) October 18, 2014
Oh hell no. Ouija on my snapchat? About to throw my phone across the room and drown it in Holy Water pic.twitter.com/WcvxY4gfKp
— Ivan Acosta (@ItsIvanAcosta) October 19, 2014
When snapchat puts Ouija on your updates pic.twitter.com/uHCnQd4dDZ
— Beau King (@tweetlessbeau) October 19, 2014
And some were just annoyed:
Why is this Ouija stuff on my snapchat fam… They've gone too far pic.twitter.com/IglZomeuNo
— Carrie Bradshaw (@JasSoSweeet) October 18, 2014
Why is Ouija on my snapchat I screenshotted it and it disappeared. no thanks don't want to see it anymore pic.twitter.com/suwSRyAxra
— bethany martin (@bethmartinnn) October 18, 2014
WHY THE HECK IS A OUIJA SNAPCHAT STORY ON HERE WHAT pic.twitter.com/BjdXy5JM0Z
— dev (@devynwhitesides) October 18, 2014
when 'Ouija' popped up in my Snapchat stories. pic.twitter.com/4fC9dR5gwd
— Donovan (@_MisterDaily) October 18, 2014
It is natural for users, especially early adopters, to feel slightly betrayed by the app for allowing advertising onto the platform.
This is always the case when a platform takes the plunge into the depths of monetisation, consumers feel their personal space is being infiltrated, it happened with Twitter, it happened with Facebook, it happened with Instagram and YouTube and it would be naïve for any modern consumer to think that Snapchat would somehow be exempt, brands have already embarked on organic Snapchat strategies.
Snapchat’s official word on the issue can be found in their update post, which explains their stance but is slightly apologetic in tone:
“It’s going to feel a little weird at first, but we’re taking the plunge.”
“We won’t put advertisements in your personal communication – things like Snaps or Chats. That would be totally rude.”
On reading, it seems that Snapchat are trying to appease an audience in advance of a decision that is, in their own words, unavoidable:
“Understandably, a lot of folks want to know why we’re introducing advertisements to our service. The answer is probably unsurprising – we need to make money. Advertising allows us to support our service while delivering neat content to Snapchatters”
The picture-sharing app explain that advertisements will not be pushed on the user and it’s completely your choice if you view them or not:
“An advertisement will appear in your Recent Updates from time to time, and you can choose if you want to watch it. No biggie”.
They also add that there is no real strategy behind the targeting:
“We want to see if we can deliver an experience that’s fun and informative, the way ads used to be, before they got creepy and targeted”.
With this in mind Snapchat’s advertising medium can be described as being self-targeted, users who want to see it, will. This flies in the face of the social media advertising we have become accustomed to, in which the advertising is super-targeted and super-relevant to the user.
This is the first and by no means the last advertisement we’ll see on Snapchat. I’m sure brands are banging on the door as I type to gain access to their 100m active monthly users, targeted or not.
Time will tell if the self-targeting nature of the advertising becomes annoying for users, receiving marketing messages that are non-relevant, or if the take it or leave it approach works better. Saying that I think the intrigue alone will cause users to play branded Snaps, at least initially.