With an estimated 30 million active monthly users, Snapchat is a social media force to be reckoned with. Perhaps one of biggest the signals that Snapchat has arrived is the announcement that Snapchat will serve its first political ad.
The ad buy was placed by the American Action Network and prompted viewers to push Congress to pass TPA (Trade Promotional Authority). The ad ran during Joni Ernst's Roast and Ride "live story", and is likely the first of many.
Going into 2016 there will be a great deal of chatter about Snapchat. The disappearing messaging app's active users are overwhelmingly members of the important 18-24 year old demographic block, making it a tempting medium for campaigns that trying to speak to young voters.
As with all decisions about how to spend resources, it's important to weigh the pros and cons of different platforms and strategies. Here are three questions advertisers should ask before making an ad buy on a new platform:
1. Who is the target?
This seems to be obvious, but sometimes novelty can eclipse good judgement. Again, Snapchat's demographic skews young. It's important to figure out whether or not that audience is going to receptive or attentive to specific issue-based messaging.
It's unclear whether trade issues are top of mind for the 18-24-year-old set, but it's important to figure it out before pouring resources into an ad buy. To mitigate some of the risk, the AAN made sure place the ad during a political "live story," increasing their chances of reaching a politically engaged audience. Just how big that audience is or how likely they are to take action is another question entirely.
2. What kind of message will work?
Message is just as important as audience. What you say will not matter if you don't package the message effectively. A common mistake on social media platforms, particularly new platforms, is attempting to repurpose content from other mediums to work on social media. This even applies across social media channels. What works on Facebook, may not work on Twitter, which may not work on Snapchat. It's important to keep channel in mind when developing creative and message.
According to reporting in the International Business Times, the American Action Network's ad took the repurposing approach when devising their 10-second spot, reformatting for Snapchat's vertical orientation. This particular ad doesn't feel like the right tone for Snapchat, but in fairness it is the first political ad on Snapchat.
3. How can it be targeted?
One of the big advantages to digital is being able to hyper-target messaging. Some platforms offer more robust targeting at the demographic and geographic level than others. As it stands, Snapchat is still working out the targeting piece, so buying ads for geographically limited campaigns would be less effective than focusing on platforms that offer better targeting.
-Matt Krayton, Principal and Founder of PubliticsPR+Digital