Snapchat Expands Ecommerce Tools As It Courts Performance Marketers

Snapchat introduced ecommerce advertising capabilities on Thursday, including a product catalog ad format called Collection Ads, a performance marketing agency partner program and more than 40 shopping partners, including eBay and Wish.

“This is the first time we’re addressing the needs of a specific vertical, as opposed to previously building general products for advertisers,” said Peter Sellis, Snap’s product director for revenue and advertising.

Collection Ads displays four icons a user could click to access product pages, similar to other ecommerce product carousels. The ads link to ecommerce sites, which are displayed in Snapchat’s in-app browser, but Sellis said the company will consider alternatives, such as deep-linking users to an ecommerce app or app download page.

Snapchat isn’t allowing retargeting based on engagements with Collection Ads, like how clicking on a product ad triggers campaigns following people around the web.

Collection Ads are meant to close the loop for ecommerce and retail campaigns on Snapchat. They’re also designed to drive business back to its upper-funnel advertising.

For instance, when brands upload their product catalog, they’ll have more assets to test and optimize and use for other advertising purposes. Sellis said Snapchat can also take those creative assets – which are interchangeable across product ads on platforms like Google, Amazon or Criteo – and within a few minutes generate glossy Stories video ads.

Snapchat has slowly developed its performance marketing capabilities, beginning with app installs and only now moving into ecommerce formats, because it needed to incubate its measurement and targeting pixel, which came out of beta this summer.

“Things can go sideways pretty quickly when you bid on downstream events, so you need time to establish confidence in those results,” Sellis said.

Time may not be on Snapchat’s side, however. On Wednesday, eMarketer lowered its forecast for Snap ad revenue this year from about $1 billion to $662 million because Snapchat’s embrace of programmatic and cost-conscious performance marketers has led to a drop-off in inventory rates.

“Having a reputation for reaching younger audiences and working on big, direct ad deals was all fine and dandy,” Sellis said. “But we needed to show we can drive measurable ROI and be a place where performance marketers can win.”

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