It might seem difficult to believe, but despite now chalking up over 100 million users, message and video sharing platform Snapchat has never made a penny in revenue. That’s about to change though: this week, it ran its first advert, with the undisclosed fee all paid for by Universal Pictures.
Ironically, the ephemeral content social media pioneer issued a blog statement on 17th October declaring its opposition to “creepy” targeted ads. But the ad it selected – a trailer for the upcoming horror movie Ouija – is so creepy it’ll probably make you sleep with the lights on for a few weeks.
The blog post insists that Snapchat remains averse to the practise followed by some companies of collecting lots of data on social media users for ad targeting. Instead, it said: “The best advertisements tell you more about stuff that actually interests you.”
Every so often, Snapchat will drop an ad into their users’ Recent Updates, whereupon they can choose whether to watch it or not. If they do, it will promptly do the Snapchat vanishing act afterwards. Otherwise it’ll disappear within 24 hours.
This is how the blog puts it:
“We won’t put advertisements in your personal communication – things like Snaps or Chats. That would be totally rude. We want to see if we can deliver an experience that’s fun and informative, the way ads used to be, before they got creepy and targeted. It’s nice when all of the brilliant creative minds out there get our attention with terrific content.”
Universal remained button-lipped about the fee but revealed that it was keen to advertise on the platform. Why? Because of the shape of its user demographic: this August, the research outfit comScore reported that 32.9 per cent of US Snapchat users were aged 18-34, a number that climbed to over 50 per cent for 18-24 year-olds.
In an interview with AdAge, Universal’s VP of marketing, Doug Neil, said:
“We like to select media platforms that are appropriate for our audience. We’ve been closely following Snapchat and its adoption. It seems to be right in the core of our target audience for the movie Ouija.”
This may herald a welcome change of fortunes for Snapchat after the recent “Snappening” debacle. Its overwhelming popularity with teens and twenty somethings is likely to make it an irresistible bet for brands and internet giants alike.