5 Metrics That Helped Snapchat Change the Narrative About Its Lack of Data

Just a year ago, advertisers were outspoken on lack of data

The cosmetics brand has found more than one way to engage many of the app's 166 million daily users.The cosmetics brand has found more than one way to engage many of the app's 166 million daily users.The cosmetics brand has found more than one way to engage many of the app's 166 million daily users.The cosmetics brand has found more than one way to engage many of the app's 166 million daily users. Sources: Getty Images, Snapchat
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This week, mobile agency Fetch will run its first Snapchat campaign for an entertainment brand using the messaging app’s granular, interest-level targeting that serves ads to people based on what types of videos they have watched. Such sophisticated targeting wasn’t available to marketers a year ago and reflects the mobile-messaging company’s aggressive moves into the world of ad tech and measurement while hoping to compete with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and others. Jeremy Sigel, global director of partnerships and emerging media at Essence, has tested nearly all Snapchat’s ad types and believes in its measurement progress.

“The speed that they’ve onboarded these partners so that they could be compared to a Facebook, who has been around for 10 years, or a Google, who has been around 20 years, [is] a remarkable story,” Sigel contended.

Since revealing its API (application programming interface) last summer, Snapchat has expanded from 10 to 15 measurement partners that help marketers analyze metrics like viewability, brand awareness and conversions. Last week, the player inked a deal with measurement firm Moat to create a data-based score to show its ads meet watchdog Media Rating Council’s guidelines for viewable impressions. Additionally, in the same week, the app debuted a self-serve ad buying platform that includes a dashboard with a bevy of stats. Still, there remains a gap, in terms of comparing Snapchat ads to other types of media, especially with the app’s goal of cutting into big TV budgets. Julie Whiting, associate director of paid social at DigitasLBi, said that she’d like to see more “cross-channel measurement—measuring incremental reach that Snapchat gets you compared to your other media in market.”

Here, a look at Snapchat’s five buckets of measurement tools:

1. Viewability and impressions

With advertisers increasingly demanding platforms like Snapchat, Google and Facebook undergo full-blown MRC audits, Snapchat is beginning to work with Moat and the MRC to create a “viewability score” to assess if consumers see vertical ads.

“That’s probably where we can compare them to Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter,” explained Torrey Taralli, head of U.S. paid social at Fetch.

Snapchat has similar arrangements with a handful of other measurement firms to track clicks and impression data. “Our campaigns need to have a solid foundation. We need confirmation that our ads are viewable and being seen by our target audience first and foremost,” added Whiting of DigitasLBi.

2. Audience targeting

Snapchat offers 60 audience groups—dubbed Lifestyle Categories—that lets advertisers zero in on specific people based on what content they look at from its publishers section, Discover, and Live Stories. For example, a sports retailer could target millennial guys who watch ESPN or The Bleacher Report’s Discover channel.

“Here, they’re stepping up and partnering with people to do this sophisticated demo targeting that folks expect,” said Sigel of WPP-owned Essence.

3. Purchase intent, brand awareness

Snapchat leans on Nielsen and Millward Brown Digital to run surveys  for advertisers that measure stats like brand lift, brand favorability and ad recall.

Snapchat cites recent fourth-quarter research from Millward Brown Digital to back up its measurement efforts. Snap Ads generated 1.6 times better purchase intent and brand favorability than the research firm’s averages. In brand awareness, Snap beat Millward Brown Digital’s average by 1.3 times.

Essence’s Sigel said that the agency created its own feedback tool that cuts the turnaround time for survey results by half, but added, “The more data, the better.”

4. Conversions

While film studios and entertainment brands were early testers of Snap Ads as a way to grab the attention of cord-cutting millennials, Snap needs solid data to prove that its ads work for big, sales-minded retailers and packaged-goods brands.

So, it has a deal with Oracle Data Cloud, which matches offline data that retailers collect about consumers’ shopping products—for example, a supermarket loyalty card—with relevant Snapchat advertisements.

Snap also tracks how many people went to a location after seeing an ad on their phone through a program called Snap to Store that Fetch’s Taralli finds particularly intriguing. “Snapchat’s in a really unique place with filters,” he said. “We can do things with some of our ecommerce clients and brick-and-mortar stores [to] show ads and then offer geofilters around that client’s stores. [We can] see if a user is actually visiting these stores and if they’re opening Snapchat in the store.”

5. App-install performance data

Snapchat is taking a page from Facebook’s playbook by investing in app-install ads that have made the latter a fortune in mobile revenue.

App-install campaigns are priced on a cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM) basis, with auction-style bidding that uses machine learning and audience segmenting to determine which people are most likely to interact with ads. Fetch’s Taralli buys a lot of app-install ads and explained that he can use a third-party tracking tool to see if a consumer buys something from an app installed thanks to a Snapchat ad campaign.

“Snapchat is now integrated with most mobile attribution tracking partners out there, so [that’s] a lot of data,” Taralli said. “When it comes to doing [direct response], people showing up to stores, app installs, these tools are 100 percent necessary.”

This story first appeared in the May 8, 2017, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

@laurenjohnson lauren.johnson@adweek.com Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.