Why Snapchat Ads are about to become essential for brands
When Snapchat first started to become popular there was much speculation about how to properly monitise the platform. Back in 2013, before the social media app implemented advertising, Facebook reportedly offered a cool $3 billion for a company that hadn’t made a single penny in revenue. Ads did eventually come to Snapchat at the end of 2014, however since its IPO in 2017 there’s been questions among marketers about its usefulness. This doubt has been reflected in its profit margins and share price. But while many marketers may have written off Snapchat years ago, there’s evidence that Snapchat may be finally coming of age.
To elaborate on this theory there’s some key things to understand about the possibility that Snapchat may be about to go through an advertising renaissance and they’re all to do with demographics and social media history. First off is the primary age group for Snapchat users. People in the age bracket of 18-24 make up a staggering 39% of users in 2022. Compare this to Facebook at 22.6%, Instagram at 30.2% & 17.1% for Twitter.
The Snapchat Generation
Well there’s a lot to unpack when comparing these numbers, there are any number of reasons for different age engagement across social platforms. Facebook, as the biggest, naturally has the most spread out user base and we can speculate that use of Twitter as a source for news and political debate explains its older slant. However Snapchat has crossover with both Facebook and Instagram in terms of its function. Primarily as a messaging platform (Facebook Messenger) and for story sharing (Instagram Stories) amongst friends.
What’s interesting here is that the spike of the Snapchat users tends to be in the age range of people who were in their early teens when the app first exploded in popularity between 2011 and 2016. In other words, Snapchat has managed to maintain high levels of usage and loyalty among users who were at a formative age when first exposed to it.
Comparing this to both Facebook and Instagram, where the largest single demographic is 25-34 we can conclude something similar has occurred. Both Instagram and, moreso, Facebook first saw rapid growth before Snapchat, meaning this core teenage audience from the platform's initial rapid growth phase is now anywhere from 2 to 10+ years older than Snapchat’s equivalent.
Snapchat did cut through with this 25-34 demographic, as it is the second largest on the platform at 22%, however the drop off is pronounced. It would seem that this age group started using Snapchat when it first gained popularity but tended to switch back to the older and more familiar Meta platforms once features they liked about Snapchat e.g. stories were implemented.
High Value Ad Space
But, why is this important for Snapchat? This one’s quite a bit simpler, money. It should be of no surprise to any marketer that, generally speaking, older people tend to have more money than younger people. This income gap is particularly pronounced between the 18-24 & 25-34 age demographics. For example in the UK the ONS reports the average full-time income of the following groups as: 18-21 (£19,248), 22-29 (£29,549) & 30-39 (£37,954). The age groups don’t line up exactly with the ones for social media but they give you a decent picture of how this works in real world terms. And this trend is replicated across much of the world.
The reasons for this are fairly simple, people aged 18-24 tend to be either attending university, in temporary unskilled work or just starting careers at a junior level. With experience, salaries start to increase significantly and big increases in salary tend to lead to even bigger increases in disposable income.
So Should You Be Using Snapchat Ads?
Well thta depends. ontinued loyal usage of Snapchat by an increasingly older and more financially comfortable group of people means that Snapchat is starting to have regular access to more lucrative ad space. This ad space could be of incredible value in the coming years provided Snapchat can capitalise on the opportunity.
At the moment there are a couple hurdles for Snapchat to overcome. First is convincing social marketers who tried using Snapchat ads in the past that it is now an equal alternative to Instagram, Facebook & (now) TikTok. Many in the industry often report poor past experiences with performance, especially compared to Meta’s platforms. Secondarily they will have to update their ads manager with innovative targeting and analytics features. Even now their business tools are sparse compared with Meta and Google.
So is Snapchat about to become digital marketing's new darling? Maybe. Provided the current economic uncertainty doesn’t cause unnecessary harm to their core audience, they might just be on to something. Only time will tell.