Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014 | 5 min read
Not so fast.
To understand ads on Snapchat, you need to first understand the way that the app works. Here’s our quick, introductory guide to understanding Snapchat and its ad formats.
Snapchat has a rather simple setup — there are four main screens. The home screen is the camera. This is where the magic happens. You can create videos, take photos, add captions, put a fancy filter on it, set the timer for self-destruction, etc.
From the homescreen, users can easily navigate to other features of the app:
Snapchat Stories are a series of Snaps that a user can add to throughout the day to show people what they’ve been up to. It’s a way of adding different Snaps together to create a longer narrative. The difference with a Story is that it can be viewed as many times as the user wants within 24 hours before it vanishes forever.
Stories appear in the My Friends section of the app, next to the sender’s name and in a Recent Updates section at the top so that you can easily access any new Stories.
Brands can use the Stories feature to share exclusive content like behind-the-scenes footage of events. Ex: This Story from the NBA shows some of the players arriving at the NBA global games in Mexico.
The distinction between Snaps and Stories is important for marketers to understand as this is what makes advertising possible on Snapchat. A Snap is a picture or video that a user can send to specific Friends. It can be viewed only once and has a similar setup to most private messaging apps; users can set up groups but other than that it’s private.
A Story is more of a broadcast message that can be seen by all of a user’s Friends, lasts for 24 hours and can be viewed repeatedly. It’s where ads are placed. In October, Snapchat unveiled its first ad — a trailer for the movie Ouija. Stories bring branded messages to Snapchat without messing with a user’s day-to-day use of the app. Users can choose whether they want to watch the ad — “No biggie. It goes away after you view it or within 24 hours,” according to Snapchat’s blog.
Our Story is a community version of My Story. An Our Story is set up as part of an event, such as a music festival or sporting event, or it can be attached to a location, then everyone at the event or location can contribute Snaps to the Story, which is curated by Snapchat. They expire every 24 hours, so for a multi-day event, a new Story is created each day. Snapchat uses GPS to confirm users locations (but it doesn’t keep a record of this) and the Story can only be viewed by those who are at the event — heavily limiting the potential audience that an Our Story can reach. This feature seems perfectly designed for brands (a kind of ready-made user generated content app for events).
Some brands have already started taking advantage of advertising possibilities of Our Stories. We’ll discuss in the next post what this means. Stay tuned.
About the Author: Jamie O’Brien is part of the Sprinklr content team and is based in Singapore. In a previous life, he was a digital art director in London. He likes to get away from the city as often as is humanly possible to snowboard, dive or hike.
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