Less than five years after its launch, Snapchat has amassed more than 100 million daily active users and sees roughly 9,000 photos shared through its app each second.
Now, it’s looking to change users’ love into money.
On Monday, the company launched “Snapchat Partners”—an application programming interface (API) that will connect marketers to ad tech developers who can build custom buying and management tools.
Marketers can also partner with a vetted creative agency that can produce enticing ads.
The announcement means marketing pros can have more options for buying and measuring ads created for the app—without having to partner with Snapchat, like its earlier advertising partners (seen in its “Discover” stories).
Along with the API, Snapchat announced that it is now inserting ads in between users’ “Stories.” The “Snap Ads” won’t appear between every users’ story that you view—and won’t pop up in between a particular users’ snaps—but they’ll be displayed across your screen, with full sound and the option to skip.
Within its ads, Snapchat also launched a feature that enables marketers to further connect with its users. The Verge explained:
Advertisers will be able to choose additional actions when users swipe up on their content, including sending them to a longer video, directing them to a website or article (without leaving Snapchat), or prompting them to install another app. Snapchat promises that it’s going to review every single ad on its platform to maintain quality, but it’s worth remembering that Instagram made a similar promise, and quickly broke it.
Snapchat plans to review all submitted ads to “protect its user experience” and not “overwhelm users with too much marketing,” TechCrunch reported.
Techcrunch’s Josh Constine wrote that the features not only will help Snapchat make money, but they should also help the company lead the way to better marketing:
Together, these announcements turn Snapchat from a thriving social network experimenting with monetization into an advertising powerhouse. But rather than just joining the pack of big league ad platforms, Snapchat has leapfrogged them in marketing innovation.
Constine explained that Snapchat’s marketing efforts are different from those of other social platforms, enabling ads to “slip by people’s defenses”:
Snapchat is pioneering what I call “Sponsored Creation Tools,” which look like the next big thing in advertising. People have grown numb to traditional banner ads, and have even learned to skim past native ads built into the feeds of apps like Facebook. Meanwhile, ad blockers weed out a lot of traditional marketing.
But Snapchat’s sponsored creation tools—facial-recognition animated selfie lenses and geofilters—employ you to create ads that you then show to friends. Whether it’s turning your face into a Taco Bell taco or simply layering the name of the business you’re visiting over your photo taken there, the ads slip by people’s defenses.
Here’s how the experience might play out, Constine wrote:
Watch a friend play with the new Iron Man Sponsored Lens, and then you might see an ad where you can swipe up to buy tickets to the movie. Snapchat will just have to remain vigilant that ads don’t feel smarmy and out of place, and that it doesn’t show so many ads that it feels uncomfortable.
If the move works, it means Snapchat has found the way to balance the user experience with offerings for marketers to smartly peddle their wares to a growing consumer audience.
This is incredibly valuable for advertisers, as 41% of all 18 to 34 year olds in the US are reached by Snapchat each day, according to Nielson [sic] data reported by the messaging company. Snapchat offers sponsored filters and vertical video ads on its platform now. The new API will serve video ads between users’ stories.
“Different marketers have different objectives, and we just want to make it easier for them to buy ads on the platform,” Snapchat’s chief strategy officer, Imran Khan, told Adweek. “We want [brands] to have a place where they can tell their stories, you know, in a better way.”