Not sure about the timing of this one – AdAge is reporting that Snapchat is now rolling out its new, unskippable, 6-second ads, forcing users to sit through commercials.
First off, it’s not as bad as it may seem – the 6-second ads are not being inserted in or around user content, they’ll only be available within Snap’s shows, the professionally created content published to the app from companies like Disney, Viacom and ESPN. That limits their impact, and makes them more akin to the unskippable ad formats on both YouTube and Facebook, which have seen both platforms boost ad revenue.
But still, the approach to ads is a little different on Snap. For a long time, the company had railed against intrusive ads - back in 2015, CEO Evan Spiegel specifically noted that his company was against the ‘creepy’ targeted ad approach used by other social platforms. That’s since changed, with Snap offering increasingly focused ad tools to hone in on their audience, while they’ve also been working to find new ways to get more ad and brand content in front of users via their recent redesign.
And given Snap’s recent report card, they need to do something – while the app has touted its capacity to reach a highly targeted, and lucrative, young audience, thus far, their results have not reflected those benefits. As per Snap’s Q1 data, average revenue per user fell in almost every category, showing that despite Snap’s audience engagement being fairly solid, they haven’t yet been able to convert that into business success.
That’s a concern for brands considering their investment on the platform, while AdAge also reports that the average view time for Snap ads is currently less than two seconds, underlining the anti-marketing approach of users.
It’s become such a concern that Snap’s now seeking to make more direct connection with advertisers, teaching them how to make more native-looking ads for the platform to improve performance. Of course, that’s the approach of most platforms, but for Snap, it may actually be more pressing, considering the performance of their ad business.
And this is all before you consider reports that Snap’s usage and sentiment is well down in the wake of their poorly received redesign.
But that’s also not to say that it’s all doom and gloom at Snap HQ. The company still generated $231 million revenue in the most recent quarter – down on market expectations, but still significant - while the app also has 191 million daily active users. There’s still potential there, but the signs are not great, and the addition of unskippable ads not only goes against the aforementioned Snap ethos (or what it was), but it also feels a little concerning. Not desperate, but concerning, like they’re running short of options.
Then again, as noted, other platforms use short, unskippable ads, and it may work to appease advertisers who’ve been reluctant to sign on for Snap shows thus far due to poor view rates.
Maybe it helps, or maybe it’s another push from Snap as it works to stay in touch.