When people speak about the decline of teens on Facebook (something that is greatly exaggerated), one of the apps commonly cited as being a competitor is Snapchat. The temporary nature of content sent via Snapchat makes the app a convenient choice for users who don’t want everything they say and post saved by the social network. October has been an up and down month for Snapchat. The company is facing scrutiny following an issue with leaked photos but it also launched their first ads on the platform…which also faced scrutiny.
The biggest blow to Snapchat has to do with a breach that led to nearly 200,000 Snapchat photos being distributed on the internet message board 4Chan. Since Snapchat messages are supposed to be temporary, the breach was the source of alarm among users. This incident has the potential to make Snapchat less popular with teens if security isn’t guaranteed.
To be fair, the problem technically wasn’t with Snapchat. Rather, some users who have installed 3rd party apps designed to let people save the “unsavable” Snapchat content (e.g. apps like SnapSave), had pictures taken from these 3rd party apps. However, since the people who had the 3rd party apps on their phones were saving pictures sent to them by other users, its the other user whose photos were being leaked. This means that all Snapchat users must be wary of what they send and to whom.
Snapchat has been quick to say that they tell users not to use these kinds of 3rd party apps, but this misses the point. Since Snapchat is supposed to make it impossible for 3rd party apps to take images from their service, the breach still represents a problem with the Snapchat platform itself.
The second big thing that happened to Snapchat was the introduction of advertisements. Snapchat had previously been ad-free, so the change is both welcome to marketers who wish to reach younger audiences, and loathed by some users who despise ads interrupting their Snapchat experience. The company is aware of these concerns and addressed them directly when the ads were first announced.
“Understandably, a lot of folks want to know why we’re introducing advertisements to our service,” Snapchat wrote in a blog post. “The answer is probably unsurprising – we need to make money. Advertising allows us to support our service while delivering neat content to Snapchatters.”
The first ad was for the Universal Pictures film “Ouija”. The 19-second trailer was shown earlier this month on the Snapchat platform. It appeared in the recent updates of the user with a tag signifying it was sponsored content. The ad remained in the user’s feed for 24 hours.
The reception to the ad has been difficult to accurately gauge, especially given the ephemeral nature of Snapchat messaging. At best, it can be said the response has been mixed. Some Snapchat users were annoyed by the introduction of ads onto their account, and being served content from someone they didn’t follow. Other users were more understanding that the company had to make money.
The mixed reaction extends to business owners as well. Experts that spoke to Variety stated that the Snapchat platform was not yet ready for mainstream ads. However, Universal appears to be happy with the result of their ad buy.
“We believe that the demographic for the film is in the crosshairs for Snapchat,” a Universal Pictures employee told Marketing Land in a recent interview. “It was the right platform for us to work with.”
It has certainly been an up and down week for Snapchat, but it’s all evidence that the platform seeks to become more relevant for marketers in the future. It will probably be a while before Snapchat expands ads to more businesses, so for now, marketers can only observe and decide how they would use Snapchat in the future. For social media marketing information that marketers can use now, read this article with 9 social media stats for the holiday season.