Snapchat and storytelling

Whilst there will be lots to be discussed and debated throughout Adweek Europe this week, there is no doubt as to which platform is creating the most intrigue and excitement.

Whilst Snapchat recently had a valuation of $16 billion, a show of hands, from a room full of advertisers showed that while the usage of the platform was high, only a small minority had actually advertised on the platform.

Despite having more than 100 million daily users and having more than 800 million photos shared every day, it appears advertisers are yet to fully embrace the platform. As both an advertiser and a daily user of Snapchat, when the opportunity to attend a talk with Nick Bell, VP of content at Snapchat, I grabbed my notepad and pen and headed to Piccadilly to join a full house at the ITV stage.

Alex Jenkins, UK Editor of Contagious led the Q&A, as Nick provided his opinions on what makes Snapchat a unique experience for both consumers and advertisers.

Mobile versus desktop

For those unfamiliar with the platform, Snapchat can be quite a puzzling first experience. As Alex delicately phrased it to Nick “why is the user interface so poor?” The fact is Snapchat is a mobile-centric platform that is built to reflect innate mobile behaviour, not desktop behaviour. Nick stated whilst “the platform looks different to other social media platforms, it feels natural”.

Different to other social media

From my own personal experience, I love using Snapchat to create stories of the day-to-day (apologies to all my friends who regularly put up with my snaps of brunches and exercise routines) and what is important to note is that I don’t feel the need to filter any of my experiences. Nick brilliantly articulated why I might feel free from this pressure. He believes that as Snapchat is completely removed from “vanity metrics” (e.g. likes and shares) this removes the pressure and creates a “willingness of expression”. This results in users behaving and showing themselves to be more like how they are in real life. In addition, images and videos are deleted after 24 hours, therefore, we are merely sharing moments, not long lasting memories.


An excellent overview of the advertising opportunities on Snapchat was blogged about last year and can be found here.  However, the idea of skippable and vertical content that disappears after 24 hours is not a concept advertisers will be familiar or comfortable with. To assure traditional advertisers, Nick stated that in-house research showed that of those users who were forced to view an entire ad, 50% resulted in built up negative associations of that brand. Whereas making the ad skippable removes any potential disruption and mirrors how users can choose to skip their friend’s content. Whereas the case for vertical video is demonstrated by the research that showed vertical videos received nine times higher engagement vs the “letter box” format.

It is these mobile-first features that Nick believes are why the party won’t stop on Snapchat just because advertisers are now starting to jump on board the band wagon. The key is for advertisers to be as relevant as they can, whilst also distributing their content in the most natural way within the platform.

Year ahead

In 2016, Snapchat will be adding more content partners (such as The Sun) and are looking to implement more measurement metrics to allow advertisers to assess brand uplift and return on investment.

My two cents

Whilst only a minority have advertised on Snapchat so far, with its huge user base and increasing commercial focus, it seems that unlike the disposable nature of its product, Snapchat will be around for the long term. The party has only just begun.


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