Snapchat’s highest-engaging ads, sponsored geofilters and lenses (users play with the latter for an average of 20 seconds), can still only be purchased through direct buys.
“It’s important to recognize that today, the API is available to us exclusively for Snap Ads,” said Jamie Tedford, CEO of Brand Networks, a Snap Ads partner. “It adds programmatic elements to buying on Snapchat, but I don’t see any signal that Snapchat is moving [toward] all programmatic.”
But it won’t be long before advertisers want all programmatic on Snapchat, Douglas said. That could put Snapchat in the sticky spot of maintaining its user experience (UX) while giving advertisers what they want.
“Snapchat absolutely has to continue to evolve the API to include those units,” Douglas said. “That will be particularly challenging for them because that’s a UX element.”
When it comes to creative, Snapchat has set the bar high. While marketers can A/B test messages, they also want proven results before diving all-in with expensive, custom placements.
“It’s a new type of ad unit and brands need to ensure that they are budgeting for the creative development,” said Lance Neuhauser, CEO of 4C insights, another Snapchat Ads partner. “We have to be realistic about just how much brands will submerse themselves out of the get-go.”
Douglas put it a bit more bluntly: “Snap Ads have a fairly high minimum when you can go to Facebook and Twitter and basically put in your credit card and spend 20 cents.”
For now, Brands are willing to experiment. Neuhauser guesses that by 2018, brands will see Snapchat as “an evergreen, always-on channel that needs to be leveraged to its full effectiveness,” he said.
The most interesting play for Snapchat is its potential to steal dollars from TV, especially for brands trying to increase brand awareness with younger demographics, Douglas said.
“Younger audiences are becoming very difficult to reach on linear TV buys,” he said. “If you’re a niche advertiser trying to do broad-based reach for younger audiences, Snapchat can provide a really unique capability.”