After first announcing a new self-serve ads platform last month, Snapchat's parent company Snap Inc. has now officially launched the tool, while also announcing some additional ad options to help boost take-up of Snapchat ads.
First up, on the platform itself - like most other social platforms, advertisers will now be able to create and purchase their own Snapchat ads via a new dashboard. Previously, you were only able to purchase Snapchat ads via partners or through Snapchat themselves.
As you can see, the ad manager format looks fairly similar to the tools available on other platforms, with options for honing in on your audience and allocating ad spend.
To get started, you first need to head to the Snapchat Ads website and sign up - there's a 'Get Started' button at the top of the page which takes you direct to the sign-up form. Once you're in, you can start creating your Snapchat campaign - you first need to choose your objective and enter your ad parameters.
You'll then be taken through all the basics of ad set-up, including targeting (as shown in the first image above) and budget allocation, which is totally in your control.
One of the more interesting elements here is the option to use Snapchat audiences, which includes lookalikes and Audience Match options, similar to other platforms, but also includes 'Snap Lifestyle categories', which they introduced late last year.
Snapchat's Lifestyle Categories utilize in-app data and location tracking to provide additional options - for example, if a user regularly checks out ESPN's Discover channel, you could reach them with sports related content, while Snap recently released additional data on how people use the app in different locations, which can help reach them with more relevant messaging.
Once you've locked-in your targeting and budget, you then need to upload your ad creative - and worth noting, Sponsored Lenses and Sponsored Geofilters will not be available through the self-serve platform (Lenses still need to go through Snap direct while Geofilters has its own dashboard).
After all the details are entered, you simply hit 'Launch campaign' and you're away.
It's a fairly familiar process for anyone who's used ads on other social platforms - though as noted by TechCrunch, making engaging Snap ads isn't necessarily as simple as running an image and link campaign on Facebook. Snapchat's video ads require a little more creative nous and technical understanding - which is where the second element of Snap Inc.'s latest announcement comes in.
In addition to the new self-serve platform, Snap Inc.'s also adding a new Snap Publisher tool which will help advertisers create Snap ads by providing tools and templates with which to build them from their existing assets.
The tool is not available as yet, but is projected to come online next month, and will enable a variety of creation options.
As explained by TechCrunch:
"This browser-based tool imports existing brand assets, trims horizontal videos for the vertical format, offers Snap-provided ad templates for different objectives, adds motion to static photos, A/B test different ad variants for performance, and lets advertisers buy through the Ad Manager with one click."
Snapchat added a similar tool for Geofilters last August, lowering the barrier for entry and making it as easy as possible for more businesses to utilize their various ad options.
And that's an important step for Snapchat - historically, the platform has been considered more difficult to use than other social apps, Snapchat's less about user-friendliness and, arguably, more about un-friendliness, which is what's kept many of the older generation out, giving their younger user base their own haven to play in, free from outside judgement.
This is part of the app's anti-Facebook allure - but now, as Snapchat looks to bring in more ad dollars and boost their market position, particularly after their questionable first earnings result as a public company, they need to change that perception, at least from an ad creation perspective. Tools like this move in that direction - but as noted, if you want to create the most effective, Snapchat-friendly ads, you still might need a little help. Which is where the third part of Snap Inc.'s latest announcement comes in.
The last element of Snapchat's new ads push comes in the form of a new 'Certified Partners' program, through which Snap Inc. will provide in-depth training to a select group of third party businesses on how to make best use of their tools, giving advertisers more options for ad assistance and advice.
Certified Partners will include SocialCode, Adaptly, Unified, and Hyfn, while Snap's also adding 25 new partners to their existing program, including Resolution Media, Booyah Advertising, and PMG Worldwide.
The expanded program will give more businesses more access to assistance, which, ideally, should drive more businesses to their ad program, lured by the potential of reaching the elusive Millennial market.
While Snap Inc. can't compete with Facebook and Instagram on size, thus far it's been able to re-direct the conversation away from this element and more towards engagement, and its ability to drive higher revenue per user. This is key to Snap controlling the narrative and boosting investor sentiment - as we've seen with Twitter, social platforms will inevitably be compared (negatively) with Facebook on audience size, which could be a killer for ad dollars, and thus future prospects.
For Snap to win, it needs to show that they not only have a highly engaged user base, but that that engagement will translate into sales. It's a tough battle, but a key element lies in getting advertisers to the platform in the first place to try it out, which these new initiatives aim to do by making it easy as possible for more businesses to get involved.
Note: Marketing Land has an excellent overview of Snapchat's various ad options here.