Ad Industry Welcomes News Of A Snapchat Ads API – If It’s Done Right

SnapchatadsAPISnapchat is said to be rolling up its sleeves on an ads API, and agencies, advertisers and tech vendors alike are happy to hear it.

“There’s a great deal of interest in Snapchat as a platform,” said Noah Mallin, head of social at MEC North America. “The intersection of video, mobile and messaging, combined with their growth rate and young user base, makes them an exciting proposition.”

But as is the case with any social platform’s foray into ad tech, there are caveats, namely the need to balance user experience with an advertiser’s desire for targeting, segmentation and proper measurement.

Transparency and data will be a major hurdle, said Topher Burns, group director of distribution strategy at digital creative agency Deep Focus.

“Snapchat’s platform is based on ephemerality and privacy, which users love about it, [but] ephemerality and privacy don’t tend to jibe well with robust performance analytics,” Burns said. “If Snapchat wants to continue to place its ad products as premium, it’s going to need to be able to tell a more detailed story about how those ad products perform and how consumers interact with them.”

It’s been a year since Snapchat began what some might call its primrose path toward monetization with the launch of Discover. Major publishers, including Cosmopolitan, CNN, People, Food Network, Yahoo News and National Geographic, were eager to experiment with it right off the bat. Snapchat started testing sponsored Discover channels in late October.

Snapchat’s success with Discover gives the platform street cred, Burns said.

“Snapchat legitimized its platform in the eyes of marketers by bringing serious content creators to the fore and giving them the creative tools to make awesome stuff users loved,” he said.

The fledgling ads API, which was first reported by Digiday, isn’t expected to be ready for beta testing until the spring. Snapchat did not respond to a request for comment.

AdExchanger caught up with execs at Epsilon, MEC, M&C Saatchi Mobile, GSD&M and HYFN for their POV on the following:

What exactly will the Snapchat API mean for the industry when it arrives?

Click below or scroll down to read their responses:

Tom Edwards, chief digital officer of agency business, Epsilon

In order for Snapchat to move toward an IPO, they need to expand beyond general awareness solutions and provide a conversion-centric offering. Currently, the products are highly focused on driving awareness versus conversion. This is a key step toward value creation if it can be done in a way that remains highly contextual and relevant for its user base.

The challenge will initially come from users as this is a 180-degree shift from a very strong position of not targeting their users with advertising. It would be advisable to take a test-and-learn approach similar to Instagram and Imgur to ensure that the ad solutions do not alienate its user base.

Noah Mallin, head of social, North America, MEC

I don’t know if Snapchat will feel the need to go as deep on ad tech as other platforms have, but it would make sense for them to make it easier to target and find audiences at scale. Long term, it would free them up to concentrate on iterating the platform and not having to help advertisers place more targeted buys in a high-touch way.

The smartest thing [Snapchat] has done is not to sit still. The temptation can be to not rock the boat when you are a new hot platform because marketers are still discovering what to do with you. Snapchat has been aggressive in launching new customer and advertising opportunities, and that seems to be paying off in user growth and interest from brands.

Eric Mugnier, SVP, North America, M&C Saatchi Mobile

The first thing any social network needs to do is get as many users as possible. Snapchat has done that first part very well. But once you’ve done that, you need to worry about how to monetize, and an ads API is the next natural step. It’s good news for any advertiser – if it’s done in the proper way. Snapchat definitely has the scale, but as an agency or an advertiser, you want to be able to address the audience and do segmentation.

About 80% of what we do at M&C Saatchi Mobile is performance-based, so we like to be connected in beta with anything that allows us to analyze spend, impressions and ROI. It’s an important platform and we look forward to using it.

Victor Solares, user experience lead, GSD&M

Snapchat has certainly embraced brands’ desires to be included in how users absorb content in its “snackable” format through the creation of its Stories, Live Events and, most recently, its Discover feature.

It’s been obvious to Snapchat for years that their users are willing to engage with content outside of their peer-to-peer snaps, so long as it’s compelling content. This new API will certainly lead the path to the creation of better contextual content that can be delivered to users. For marketers, it will provide a better understanding of what is working and not working within the Snapchat format.

Morgan Harris, CEO and founder, HYFN

As with most new endeavors, initially Snapchat will feel some pushback from users, but if it’s done in a smart, nonintrusive way, that will pass fairly quickly. I believe there will be a healthy appetite for it, assuming [advertisers] want to reach that specific target demographic of 13- to 25-year-olds.

Snapchat will need to be smart about putting the right people in place internally and bringing the right partners on board early – people who really understand advertising [and can help] shape Snapchat into a marketing powerhouse, and partners who understand their clients’ needs.

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