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Until recently, the marketing world viewed Snapchat as a niche app, used by a relatively small number of teens and Millennials as a way to send photos and videos (which would disappear immediately after viewing) with little advertising potential for brands. As Snapchat’s popularity and the amount of content shared on the app have skyrocketed—according to Business Insider, Snapchat now reaches 41% of all 18- to 34-year-olds living in the U.S. (compared to 6% of the same demographic reached by the top 15 network television channels) and an average of 8 billion videos are viewed on the platform every day—global brands like Disney, Coca-Cola, Toyota, and the N.B.A. have started taking advantage of Snapchat’s ability to engage millions of consumers by publishing content (often by partnering with top Snapchat influencers or social media influencers) that resonates with today’s younger, social media-obsessed audiences.
The growth of Snapchat, from an ephemeral messaging app with 30,000 monthly users in early 2012 (Inc.) to a social media stalwart with an estimated 100 million daily active users at the end of 2015 (Snapchat), is impressive. As larger numbers of (typically younger) users gravitate to the platform—a recent study found that 77% of college students use Snapchat daily (Mashable) and, according to an article in Forbes, 64% of 18- to 24-year-olds with smartphones are now active users—Snapchat has taken steps to make it easier for brands to target and market to traditionally difficult-to-reach millennial audiences.
Snapchat’s high level of user engagement also makes marketing on the platform appealing to companies trying to capture the attention of the app’s millennial consumers, many of whom rarely watch television but spend hours a day on social media networks, platforms, and apps. Because Snapchat Stories disappear 24 hours after they are published and today’s top Snapchatters (like DJ Khaled) post 20-30 times per day, Snapchat users now spend an average of 30 minutes per day on the platform (according to Business Insider).
This kind of near-constant engagement coupled with Snapchat’s full-screen functionality (which guarantees 100% visibility) makes the platform an especially effective channel for branded native advertising campaigns or brand-sponsored influencer marketing collaborations with the app’s most popular content creators.
Over the last several months, Snapchat has unveiled several ways that brands can target and market to customers via native advertising. Companies may now create and purchase custom Geofilters to help increase user engagement, offer exclusive discounts available only through the brand’s Snapchat channel, create a video to be featured on a Snapchat Story, or purchase ads on Snapchat’s “Discovery” portal. While these native marketing developments can serve to reinforce an effective Snapchat marketing strategy, brands often find that partnering with Snapchatters to create brand-sponsored content or draw new users to a company’s channel through a Snapchat Takeover yields the highest returns, both in terms of reaching the most users and achieving the highest campaign ROIs.