Snapchat is handing over more ad tools to premium publishers and advertisers – offering brands ‘unskippable’ slots and experimenting with a private marketplace (PMP) that lets Discover media partners take greater control over their inventory.
Rami Saad, international head of content partnerships for Snap told The Drum that the programmatic updates were being rolled out in direct response to feedback from publishers.
Snapchat's six-second non-skip ad format (dubbed 'commercials' in Snap speak) was launched in the US last year, but clients were only able to buy the slots direct and on an insertion basis.
Now, in August the app will scale commercials more widely, giving 100 cherry-picked brands across the UK, Australia, the USA and Canada the opportunity to buy the format programmatically against Snap's premium TV-style 'shows' content – which comprise everything from scripted drama to comedy.
The addition should make Snapchat – which has 191 million daily active users – a more attractive buy for brands previously put off by its user-friendly skippable ads, or the fact ads sometimes appear against user-generated content.
On how Snap intends to walk the tightrope between keeping its notoriously precious, and young, users happy while upping the number of unavoidable ads in-app, Saad said: "We listen to many signals to see how people interact with these ads and as we were testing this product, the results we saw in the US were encouraging, which is the reason we felt confident enough to continue the roll out and move into other markets.
"As with any launch we’ll keep our ear to the ground and listen to any feedback from our users."
'Friend' to publishers
The PMP, meanwhile, will allow a select set of media owners who are signed up to Snapchat’s exclusive Discover hub for publishers to transact against a white list of advertisers on their own terms before opening up their inventory more widely.
The beta phase will tested across four markets: the US, UK, France and Germany. Partners include ESPN, Vice, the Telegraph, Tastemade, Vogue UK and Vogue Paris.
Via the new marketplace, publishers can restrict access to their content to specific advertisers. For instance, Conde Nast could give Unilever access to to buy ads inside Vogue Paris' daily Snapchat edition, then Unilever could use its existing self-serve account to do so.
Partners also have the option to create bundles of content for advertisers to bid on.
At the moment, ads purchased via Snap's ad manager platform are thought to cost between $3 to $5 per-1000 impressions, but it's understood ads bought via the PMP could cost as much as $10 for every-1000.
Saad conceded that the new auction-based environment would bring about "more competitive" pricing for advertisers, but said publishers would see their yields improve.
Saad said Snap sees itself as a "friend" to publishers, however over the past few months opinion among Discover partners has been split regarding the app's controversial redesign, with some noting spikes in readership and others saying they've seen a decline.
"When [we] talk to publishers across our different markets, [we] hear different results depending on market and publisher," said Saad, "but I can tell you that partners are really excited about the changes we're making on the platform.
Snap has struggled to assure investors of its long-term profitability. In February, the platform experienced a boost on the stock market thanks to its investments in the adtech space, with chief strategy officer, Imran Khan, saying the introduction of an auction model had helped double the number of advertisers spending on the platform.
Now, a renewed focus on control, coupled with the offer of 100% in-view premium inventory in the form of commercials, could help the business siphon ad from YouTube and Facebook who are still battling their way out of their own brand safety crises.
Today's announcements come just over one year after Snap first unveiled its self-serve platform.