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Technology Martech Snap

Vox Pop: is a new-look Snapchat the right way forward? (Part 1)

By Rebecca Levy | Editorial Account Executive



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November 9, 2017 | 9 min read

Snapchat's plans to overhaul its primary app with the intention of making it more intuitive for users, comes after reports of serious losses due to a shift to programmatic advertising.

Clockwise from top-left: Impero, Run2, Merkle | Periscopix, Sagittarius, Rapp, BWP, Roast, Critical Mass

Clockwise from top-left: Impero, Run2, Merkle | Periscopix, Sagittarius, Rapp, BWP, Roast, Critical Mass

The Drum Network asks if a new-look app is the right way forward to bolster sales and widen its appeal, or if it is at risk of driving away its current audience.

Here's what some of our agencies had to say:

Dan Deeks-Osburn, strategy director, Impero

I couldn’t be happier to hear that as Snapchat leans heavier on programmatic delivery, its value as a communication tool erodes. The obsession with precise targeting and programmatic delivery is the great sickness rotting away at the heart of industry. It seems like since things became perma-tough in 2008, brands have been stuck in an endless cycle of growing KPIs, shrinking budgets, and ever-increasing stakeholders demanding ever greater returns. It feels like a safer bet to send customised ads to a targeted audience who (hypothetically) already care about your product in the first place, avoiding the wastage of reaching people who aren’t interested at this moment. But it’s precisely this ‘waste’ that builds brands. Brand advertising with a huge reach doesn't only focus on people who are interested in your product right now, but also taps into the huge audience who could want or need your product in the future. People don’t know what they want until they’re told what they want, and it’s our job as marketers to tell them. Snapchat was compelling to marketers because it was an innovative service with great creative formats ideally suited to a young audience. If Snapchat focuses on building a creative space for having conversations in exciting ways that consumers want to engage with, it’ll be on to a winner for users and brands who want to invest in creative marketing. If it sticks with its programmatic approach, the app will eventually become as ignorable as a banner ad.

Dave Nicoll, social media manager, Run2

It sounds like a terrible idea. Snapchat continues to see huge growth with 12-17 year olds which is an audience other social networks struggle with. The reason these younger users love it is exactly because it isn't very intuitive and therefore it hasn't been invaded by parents etc unlike other social networks, for example, Facebook and Twitter. It's likely that through the process of attracting a larger user base with a simpler app, it will drive away its primary audience who are hugely active on the platform.

Laura Collins, head of paid social, Merkle|Periscopix

This is a risk Snap has to take. Since its IPO in March, its story has rapidly turned from a tech fairytale into a tragedy, and drastic action needs to be taken. It’s having trouble dispelling common conceptions about the platform: it’s too expensive to advertise on, and only teens use it. The first has been addressed by its move to programmatic advertising and the removal of minimum spend requirements, but to grow its older user base, changes to the app itself are vital. Time will tell if those changes alienate current users…but no guts, no glory.

Kris Boorman, digital marketing blogger, Sagittarius

Oh boy. Snapchat. A fun app, once I can figure out how to blimmin’ use it. This isn’t a ‘grandma programming the VCR’ thing, age isn't the issue. The barrier is the shit UI. I’ve just got no patience for it. At this point, it might be too great a risk to spend time on overhauling the app, but if it had recognised the need for that overhaul, and taken steps to improve it before spending so much money on advertising (regardless of the method), it needn’t have been such a gamble. To be blunt: programmatic isn’t the issue, Snapchat is.

Jess Geary, account director, Rapp UK

Watching Snapchat’s crisis of confidence is like watching a talented young popstar veering off the rails. Its captive audience is categorically the hardest to reach, as the potent combination of tech-savviness and ethical sensitivity means that the 18-24 year olds drive the penetration of adblockers the world over. Therefore, Snapchat’s shift to programmatic and sponsored content, away from human-curated ad moments is bound to be the death knell for these ad-intolerant, perceptive engagers. Re-designing the platform so that it can be another app that your embarrassing parents stalk you on may be a way to grow revenue, but you will lose a valuable, progressive audience in the process.

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Steve Wilkins, head of content strategy, BWP Group

Risky? Yes. However, history has shown us that the social media networks that fail to adapt to change or take risks, usually fall by the wayside. Think back to the early days of social networking; Friendster, Myspace. Despite their early successes and growth, they failed to adapt to the wants and needs of their users and remain ascendant or relevant. As a 35-year-old android user myself, I will be interested to see if it can both target and woo me with its new-look Snapchat app, as tapping into this demographic could be significant in it bolstering sales. Jury's out.

Lucy Cunningham, head of mobile, Roast

With the rising shift in programmatic many publishers have adopted this model successfully, however very premium placements, as Snapchat would consider itself to be, tend not to always reap the commercial reward. It has seen this, and it will be a good lesson for other publishers who are looking to go 100% programmatic in rejigging their proposition and educating the market going forward. I would expect to see Snapchat revert back to programmatic, as larger publishing houses aim for an increase in programmatic buys, but can understand its decision in the short term. It will be interesting to see if programmatic was the problem or if it's Snapchat's overall proposition that needs looking at.

Brian Williamson, senior strategist, Critical Mass

It’s risky but necessary. It must grow to meet investor expectations, and to grow it must be accessible for more people. The question is, can Snapchat design for scale and still do what it does best? Young people like it. Content publishers like it. Facebook’s struggle with those groups is arguably its biggest weakness. Snap has been criticised for not emulating Facebook’s quantitative approach, but it’s clear that approach has its own consequences.Users will dislike the redesign for at least the first month, but if it preserves its core appeal, they will return. It’s a risk they must take.

Click here to see part 2 of this Vox Pop.

Technology Martech Snap

Content by The Drum Network member:


Hello. We Are Impero.

The creative agency for impatient brands.

We're audaciously ambitious. We like to challenge the status quo by thinking bigger, better, and braver than the competition.

We work best with brands that want to get things done and make a real impact in the world.

Brands that have a healthy amount of impatience. And want to work with a partner who shares it.

A bit more about us...

We're an independent creative agency based in London and Buenos Aires, made up of over 35 people and growing fast.

We work with world-class brands such as Beefeater Gin, UGG, Havana Club, 7Up, Primark, AB InBev, West Midland Trains and General Mills.

Intrigued? Visit us our website, connect with us on LinkedIn, follow us on Behance and Instagram to see our latest work.


+ Digital & brand strategy & brand comms planning+ Advertising campaign creation+ Shopper marketing and activation+ Content creation+ Digital design+ Social media strategy & management+ Influencer marketing & community management.




By Michael Scantlebury

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Run2 Digital

We make digital marketing do what it should, brilliantly. When you run with us second place isn’t an option.

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Merkle is a leading data-driven, technology-enabled, global performance marketing agency that specialises in the delivery of unique, personalised customer experiences across platforms and devices. We call it ‘people-based’ marketing, and with over 25 years’ experience, we are proud to be recognised as a global leader.

Merkle’s heritage in data, technology and analytics is the foundation for our understanding of consumer insights that drives our people-based marketing strategies. Combined with our expertise in performance creative and media, we can then offer our clients content-driven, contextual and compelling customer experiences that drive business growth.

With our European HQ based in London, we are fast expanding across the globe. In 2016, the agency joined the Dentsu Aegis Network, one of the world’s biggest media companies. 

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Remarkable Group

Sagittarius. Ultimedia. Nemetos Tanasuk. Unify. A new group for remarkable brands and remarkable people. We are Remarkable Group.

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RAPP is a global, data-driven creative community that builds direct, meaningful and high-value relationships between brands and people. At RAPP, with our unrivalled depth of expertise in first-party data, we’ve been observing and cataloguing real people’s lives for 50 years. In today’s world the balance of power has shifted, and customers are in control, which is why we put people and their preferences at the heart of the brand experience. With a talent base of more than 1,600 professionals in 18 offices, we help brands grow the value of real people by understanding what really matters and creating experiences that are right for real people, with real needs, in real time, creating marketing that matters. Our expertise in data and marketing sciences allows us to deliver our clients actionable human insight - an incredible understanding of genuine motivations, observed transactions and actual interactions. Our process reflects how real people think; we balance the left brain and the right, and we do our best work when we bring Precision and Empathy into balance. Building on our data foundation, RAPP delivers a range of capability across social, digital, customer experience and technology.

RAPP is proud to employ talented people across the US, the UK, Argentina, France, Germany, China, Singapore, Australia, Mexico, Bangkok and Dubai, and we actively foster an inclusive workplace where diversity and individual differences are valued and leveraged to achieve our vision.

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BWP Group

We are a strategically-led creative agency specialising in brand and customer experience.

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Head Office: Jubilee House, Third Avenue, Marlow, Bucks, SL7 1EY

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We are ROAST.

Our goal is simple, to increase the return on your advertising spend (ROAS).

We do this by simplifying the problem and moving forward with the right performance marketing tactics targeting the correct audience, at the right time.

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Multi Award Winning Digital Performance + Media

We’re proud to have won many prestigious awards over the years - being recognised for the results we have achieved for our clients, our innovative approach, our clever use of data, our culture, as well as named ‘Best Digital Agency’.

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As part of Independent Digital Network, TIPi Group, we use digital data at scale, combined with the very best industry tools and tech to create a comprehensive view of your business and the opportunities we can maximise. We then apply this to our digital strategy to deliver accurately targeted, highly successful award winning campaigns.

Our services include Integrated Search, Customer Experience & CRM, SEO, Content Marketing, PPC, Display & Programmatic, Mobile, Paid Social, Amazon Marketing, Data Science & Analytics and OOH.

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Critical Mass

In a complex and fast-moving world, Critical Mass designs unparalleled brand experiences that connect with people. We were established in Calgary back in 1996, and since then we’ve helped global clients like Apple, Nike, Diageo, and BMW (and hundreds more over the years) reimagine digital and do what no one else in their category can do. Today, we’re over 1,400 digitally obsessed employees in 12 offices, across Europe, Asia, and North America—with a major, full-service hub in London.

What makes us different? We truly understand every part of our clients' digital ecosystems, and we deliver success by making data, creativity, and technology more connected, more efficient, and more powerful. Of course, digital never stands still, but neither do we. We help brands seize opportunities so that their customers get a better experience and a more seamless, dynamic, and personalised experience everywhere they go.

We’re also proud to be part of Omnicom, one of the largest holding companies for global advertising, marketing, digital, and communications services firms (serving more than 5,000 clients in over 100 countries).

No matter how much digital changes, one thing will always stay the same—who we are. We’re a transparent, honest, values-driven, passionate partner with a can-do attitude that our clients notice and appreciate.

We’re Critical Mass, but our friends call us CM. Please call us CM.

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