Snapchat’s promise to investors ahead of its recent IPO was pinned on growth rather than profit, but now the app has unveiled a self-serve platform with the hope of opening itself up to businesses of all sizes and keeping pace with its rivals.
Snapchat is planning to make ads on the app more easily available to a wider range of advertisers on a self-serve basis, kicking off with the roll out of a Snapchat ad manager which will let clients purchase slots directly.
The feature offers brands a more centralised, and fee-free, way to buy and track ads across formats like vertical video, app-install slots, and in-app web page ads. At the moment it is available to 20 select launch partners, but will be rolled out in the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany and Australia and more in June.
Just a few weeks ago Snapchat announced it was opening its API further to allow partners to buy and manage sponsored Geofilters – its location-enabled overlays. Regular sponsored Lenses and Filters will remain unaffected by the chance and will still only be available for purchase via thid-party partner technology.
Snapchat’s new dashboard will let advertisers review metrics as well as line up purchases, and The Drum understands that any marketer can apply to use the service before June via Snap’s website before it opens to all businesses in the summer.
Snapchat's approach to the expansion echoes that of Instagram's when it opened its doors to all advertisers, with Snap saying it wants to appeal to businesses "big and small". The company added that it has been testing the self-serve feature with a variety of platforms including small and medium firms based in the US, saying the ad manager was "built with their business needs in mind".
Parent company Snap Inc is due to unveil its first set of financial results since going public next week, and while during its IPO pitch the company promised investors growth rather than profit it will be hoping that opening up its inventory further will give revenues a boost. According to a report from TechCrunch the upstart has ambitious plans to pull in up to $1bn this year, but eMarketer trimmed its forecasts in March - estimating that the platform will attract $770m of ad budgets in 2017.
While a revenue bump may indeed be on the horizon, whether Snap can deliver on its promise of growth is another matter entirely. In the midst of stiff competition from the likes of Instagram and Facebook – both of which have aped its original Stories feature – some reports have indicated that usage will take a hit.
Instagram already claims it has 200 million people using its Stories service every day, compared to 160 million daily users for Snapchat. However recent research from App Annie, which measured user behaviour during the fourth quarter of last year, found that on an average day 35% of Snapchat’s 60m daily users in the US aren't reachable on Facebook on the same day, and 46% can't be found on Instagram.