- Snapchat is now allowing any brand to license its ad platform API in order to do their own buying, turning the platform into a self-serve tool, according to reporting by Ad Age.
- Previously the API, which has only been available since last year, focused on creative partnerships rather than automated ad buying in a beta with around 100 brands.
- Snapchat’s current strategy is similar to Facebook’s early approach of working with the ad industry and ad tech firms, per the Ad Age report.
While Facebook has been actively copying Snapchat’s user experience through offerings like Instagram Stories, Snapchat is now taking cues from Facebook’s advertising strategy as it ramps up for an expected initial public offering of stock by parent company Snap Inc., which is expected to happen next month.
The news is the latest indication that Snapchat has plans to be a major player in digital advertising, an area currently dominated by Google and Facebook, which both offer automated buying. Big brands are eager to see more platforms with the wide reach and well-rounded offerings they need as this is likely to create a healthier competitive ecosystem.
While Snapchat appears to be well-positioned to make a run at being a contender as the third big ad platform, its ascendency is by no means a done deal. It remains to be seen how wide Snapchat's appeal is beyond its core millennial users, with the recent introduction of a universal search bar one way the platform is hoping to make itself easier to use and therefore appealing to more users. Another challenge could be getting users to actually see ads, given that current viewability numbers are unimpressive.
Snapchat is reportedly also investing in ad tech, which could help it address some of these issues. A digital ad agency exec anonymously told Ad Age that while Snapchat is clearly copying Facebook, it also has tech partners in place to grow its ad platform and generate revenue.
Snapchat was notoriously marketer-unfriendly from the outset and didn’t offer tracking and measurement that brands were used to on other social media platforms like Facebook. That has significantly changed over the last year as Snapchat made numerous moves to increase its revenue in advance of the IPO from releasing an ad platform API to hiring ad measurement leadership to forming the parent company giving the core mobile app some market separation.