Snapchat Adds APIs, Offers Self-Serve Option For Ad Buyers

snapchat-self-serveSnapchat parent Snap Inc. added partners to its Ads and Custom Audience Match APIs on Tuesday and introduced a new API category for Creative. It also did something marketers have been wanting for a while: letting them license Ad Partners’ tech for self-serve buys.

Before the update, buyers could only purchase Snap Ads via a managed service, which was basically an insertion order sent to a Snapchat Ads partner who would manage and execute the buy. The update lets buyers license partner technology and manage those buys in-house.

“There has been a pent-up demand, specifically from trading desks and media agencies,” said Jamie Tedford, CEO of Brand Networks, an original Snapchat Ads API partner. “They want to have more hands-on experience to really understand and do optimizations on their own.”

Snapchat Ads buyers will also gain more access and control over reporting.

“All the data points we were giving out on a managed service at launch are now surfaced for the direct advertiser and their agency,” Tedford said. “Of all the things platform advertisers are looking for, analytics and KPI analysis is certainly one of them.”

Snapchat’s move to a self-serve offering is a sign of maturity for the platform, which is ramping up to become a bigger portion of the media buy, said James Douglas, director of IPG Mediabrands’ social marketing agency, Society.

“The original release of the API wasn’t robust enough, so they tried to very prudently limit it to a subset of partners and limit the work that the partners could do,” he said. “As [Snapchat’s ads API] gets more mature, it’s getting ready for thousands and thousands of advertisers to go at it at the same time.”

Snapchat’s expanded partnerships should also ease the buying process – particularly important as the company seeks to drive revenue as its IPO approaches.

New Ads API partners include: Videology, Kenshoo, AdParlor, Kinetic, Hyfn and Adglow, bringing the total to 15.

Audience Match API launch partners include PMG, mParticle, LiveRamp, Kochava and Merkle. These partners can help buyers upload CRM lists to segment and target customers on Snapchat.

Creative API launch partners include Celtra, ReFUEL4, VidMob, Percolate and Spredfast.

Douglas calls these updates “the typical evolution of a platform’s capabilities.” But Snapchat has been able to evolve at a faster clip than its predecessors by learning from their successes and mistakes. That quick evolution is encouraging media buyers like Douglas to continue shifting budgets toward the platform.

“We’re seeing really positive momentum and an evolution at a much more rapid pace than we’ve seen in other platforms like Google AdWords and Facebook in the very initial days,” he said.  “When you start to see that level of parity, whether that’s ease of buying from a logistical standpoint or finding audiences in an efficient manner, we will find opportunities for that investment.”

But for Snapchat, there’s still room for improvement. Douglas hopes the platform will open up its native tools to true self-serve buying.

“I do feel like in these API platforms, I have more control and capability than I did a few days ago,” he said, “but the eye on the prize here is to continue to expand overall capability in native tools so I can see the without ever having to license a third-party, because my clients require that level of capability.”

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