[for users], I think.”
He also said the platform appeals to young adults’ tendency to express themselves pictorially through stickers and emojis. Snapchat users can add stickers (images), lenses (animated layers) and geofilters (location-based overlays) to their pictures and videos.
Snapchat’s UI. Image: Snapchat
The ephemeral nature of the site has made some advertisers wary of investing in content for the platform, only to see it disappear a few hours later, but Bell said this has been key to the platform’s success over the years, creating a more dynamic environment for users and one where people don’t have to worry about their thoughts, pictures and opinions being stored permanently online.
“I welcome the idea that the person I am today isn’t the person I was a year ago,” he said. “This concept of recording everything we do is new … the personal computer brought with it the concept of saving information, but just because you can, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right thing to do,” he added.
Bell also said that Snapchat’s ephemeral nature forces brands to be more creative – and cited a recent SuperBowl campaign by Gatorade as an example of how to get huge engagement in a short space of time. (The brand created a sponsored lens which allowed users in the US to overlay an animation of them being showered in Gatorade, mimicking the Gatorade ‘dunk’ SuperBowl tradition. The lens received over 160 million views).
“It gives you a huge opportunity to be creative and capture the moment … the reason [the Gatorade lens] was so popular was because it was so relevant. [The SuperBowl] was like the only thing on people’s minds at that period in time,” he added.
Speaking about common misconceptions held by advertisers, Bell said there was still a belief that launching a campaign on the platform is incredibly expensive. An Ad Week article from 2015 claimed Snapchat was asking brands for $750,000 a day to run ads but Bell said campaigns now cost considerably less thanks to new targeting features.
Discover content from Refinery29’s channel of Snapchat to mark 4/20 today, which has become known as ‘pot day’
“Initially when we were running campaigns, we didn’t have a huge ad tech platform, so if you wanted to run one you were getting huge reach and it was expensive, but that’s no longer the case,” he said. Brands can now target users by age, gender and location and Bell said entry level campaigns cost tens of thousands rather than hundreds. “Geofilters also allow you to choose a location and time frame [running graphics in a set location at a particular time] and the entry point for that is significantly less,” he added.
Last year, the brand rolled out a new native ad product, 3v (vertical video view) to encourage brands to create custom full-screen videos for Snapchat. The platform claims users are nine times more likely to watch full-screen vertical videos, as most users hold their phone upright while consuming content.
Unlike pre-roll advertising on YouTube, which users are forced to watch, Snapchat ads can be skipped at any time by swiping or tapping. Bell said brands often ask Snapchat if there’s a way of forcing people to watch content, but added that this is something the platform is keen to avoid as it tends to annoy users.
“We’ve done a lot of research and one of the things that came out of that is that 50% of people who are forced to watch an ad actually built up negative sentiment towards that brand,” he explained.
“I think the concept of watching to completion has been overplayed by the market,” he added. “Just because you’ve created a 30-second TV spot doesn’t mean that’s the optimum amount of time to spend watching that ad.” As attention spans are much lower on a mobile, he also said that communicating a message in three or four seconds “is much more powerful” than creating a cinematic 30-second spot.
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Asked by Jenkins whether advertising was likely to spoil the party on Snapchat – referring to the idea that platforms often lose their cool once brands move in – Bell, rather predictably, said “definitely not.” But he added that brands should be thinking about how to integrate advertising in a fun way like Gatorade if they wanted to engage with users.
“If you’re having a conversation with friends, the last thing you want is a guy with a sandwich board shouting at you – it’s really disruptive and it doesn’t make a huge amount of sense,” he said. With Gatorade, Bell said the brand had developed an ad that users wanted to share with their friends, making the leap from the ad and content side of the platform directly into video and photo chats between friends. “If I use a filter or lens it’s my choice, so it’s welcomed into the conversation,” he said.
Nick Bell was speaking at Ad Week Europe in London. For details, see advertisingweek.eu
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