Video Essentials

Snapchat’s 3-Second Problem: Lots of Ads, Not Much Viewing

Depending on where you stand, Snapchat is either a video ad powerhouse or a sign of everything that’s wrong with social video advertising.

snapchatghosteMarketer recently published data showing how Snapchat is taking off in a big way. In 2016, Snapchat has 58.6 million users (who access their accounts on a phone at least once per month), representing 31.6 percent of all social network users. By 2020, that base will grow to 85.5 million people and represent 42.2 percent of all social network users.

Among people 12-years-old or greater, Snapchat is now the fourth most popular social network (behind Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest), eMarketer says. That’s right: Snapchat is more popular than Twitter. Among teens, it’s the most popular social network: 28 percent of teens surveys say Snapchat is their favorite, followed by Instagram (27 percent), Twitter (18 percent), and Facebook (17 percent). For college students, it’s the third most popular social app (after Facebook and Instagram).

This popularity has led to a rush of brand support for Snapchat, with major brands creating their own sponsored filters or buying ads. But those vertical video ads might not be such a great deal: AdAge reveals that Snapchat’s video ads average under 3 seconds per view, and two-thirds play without volume.

Snapchat’s video ads show after or in the middle of personal videos—meaning those the viewer initiates from accounts they follow. Skipping any video on the platform is as easy as tapping the screen, so it looks like users are skipping Snapchat’s ads just as soon as they realize they’re seeing an ad and not content from a friend.

Despite the short duration, Snapchat insists its ads are effective. It recently introduced an interactive format that lets viewers swipe up for more information, and says the format is getting positive results.

For now, it looks like premium advertisers are sticking with the platform despite the low viewing duration and the necessity of creating vertical content. But advertisers are still trying to solve the problem of how to influence potential customers in under three seconds.


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