With 50 Million Daily Users in Europe, Snapchat Pitches Brands in Germany

CSO Imran Khan takes on Dmexco

COLOGNE, Germany—By now, most American marketers have learned plenty about Snapchat ramping up its ad business in the U.S. Imran Khan, the company’s chief strategy officer, today gave European marketers a crash course in its ad formats including short video ads, lenses and geofilters.

During a keynote presentation at Dmexco, Khan pointed to the following fact in his appeal: Roughly one-third—or 50 million—of the company’s 150 million daily active users hail from Europe. Khan explained his company’s 10-second ads that fit between photos and videos before delving into Snapchat’s more recent Snap Ads products that let marketers link 10-second ads to long-form video, websites and app installs.

“When I went and talked to a lot of advertisers, the feedback that we received from [them] was: ‘Hey, we need more interactive ad units so that our customers—our clients—can actually take an action,” he said.

Khan said his favorite ad product among those he’s built since joining Snapchat in 2014 is the long-form video format, which allows marketers to run vertical spots.

“We can get five-minute, 10-minute, 15-minute videos, and there’s no [other] way that people discover this content,” he said.

Virgin Media, for example, ran an ad prompting users to swipe up to see a seven-minute video with Olympian Usain Bolt this summer, the CSO said.

Gatorade also recently built a mobile game starring Serena Williams that people spent three and a half minutes on average playing. And as a little bit of a dig at Facebook’s muted video ads, Khan reinforced that sound is big on Snapchat. Two-thirds of ads within the app are played with the sound on, he said.

“This is a really big differentiation of Snapchat because the vast amount of time when people consume other people’s stories, they do that in sound,” said Khan. “When you’re buying advertising without sound, you’re buying a moving banner.”

Much like how Snapchat is building its U.S. ad business, marketers say the app’s move into Europe has been gradual.

“You start to walk before you run,” said Laurent Faracci, svp of global marketing and digital excellence at Reckitt Benckiser. “As with many digital and social companies, it’s a natural thing to start with the U.S. before rounds of global expansion.”

Laura Henderson, Mondelez’s global head of content and media monetization, added, “They’re making headway in the U.S., and it’s a life-cycle thing.”

Not all media buyers think Snapchat is ready to take on Europe, though, particularly when it comes to lingering concerns about ad prices. While a third of daily users are in Europe, ad prices reflect the bigger U.S. market, they say. Plus, it’s unclear how many users are in specific countries.

“They are priced by the U.S. user base—that’s a slightly different scale from what I’m at,” said Christian Godske, chief digital officer for MediaCom Nordic. “It’s a high expectation for what Snapchat can do.”

Meanwhile, Khan interestingly refuted the idea that his company was a social network, calling Snapchat “a camera company.”

“The company started as sending just snaps—just pictures,” Khan said. “We’ve evolved significantly with almost a dozen products that are loved by hundreds of millions of people around the world.”