How App Marketers Are Using Snapchat to Drive a Better Class of Install

Opinion: Story Ads have become a particularly opportunity-rich avenue

Snapchat has released a slew of new features and ad types Wachiwit/iStock

Snapchat may have seen some recent turbulence in its stock price, but the company has been busy these past six months building an impressive suite of high-impact tools for advertisers. It has released a slew of new features and ad types into the digital advertising landscape.

New capabilities like application event optimization allow advertisers to focus on audiences given to the most desirable behaviors, like completing in-app purchases.

Advertising formats like Story Ads in Snapchat Discover leverage the massive engagement Snap has seen with its evolving native content experience. New campaign data shows that advertisers are driving higher-quality installs, producing up to 30 percent higher return on ad spend compared with traditional mobile app install campaigns.

Story Ads have become a particularly opportunity-rich avenue for creative mobile marketers. Campaigns appear as sponsored tiles in Snapchat’s Discover section, alongside subscribed and suggested premium content, creating an opt-in opportunity to drive engagement using a collection of Snaps and a call to action.

It’s a uniquely native format that allows for unprecedented creative freedom in a medium best known for its ability to resonate with young, tech-savvy audiences. For example, eMarketer recently reported that Snapchat continues to lead all platforms in usage and popularity among American teens.

On top of that, Snapchat’s improved location-based targeting capabilities have unlocked new strategic vectors for reaching “the right audience, in the right place at the right time.” Location categories let advertisers leverage new depths of audience intent in their targeting strategies, while still protecting user privacy. Radius targeting lets advertisers of all sizes narrow their audience segments down to users within X miles of any major landmark, allowing for highly effective, hyper-targeted campaigns.

Combined, these features have opened up a new strategic playground for Snapchat advertisers. And while they’ve only been live for a few months, brands that can capitalize on them derive more value from Snapchat’s app install campaigns than from any other channel.

Here are some of the tactics driving results for app marketers on Snapchat:

Target locations with wait times

App publishers of all verticals can use location categories to zero in on audiences that have at least a nominal amount of leisure time available in which to download and engage with a new app.

Airports, movie theaters and even music/sports venues all have some element of waiting involved in their most common use cases. By targeting these users at the appropriate time, game and app advertisers can use Story Ads to pitch them on concise, fun leisure activities that fit into the time windows they have.

Be sure to match your app’s unique experience to the amount of time users have available. A hardcore mobile strategy game might appeal to users boarding a plane, where there are limited distractions, but likely wouldn’t perform as well with concert-goers looking to kill time between acts at a music festival.

Capture attention early

Snapchatters have full control over their Story viewing experience, including the ability to skip through Snaps or close out of the Story entirely. Capturing their attention within the opening seconds of your first Snap is critical to ensuring a high completion rate.

When developing campaigns, treat your first Snap as you would a blog headline, and invest equal or greater time in developing creative that pulls your audience in. Start with strong visual language elements like expressive faces, dynamic silhouettes and high-contrast colors. If time and resources allow, run isolated multivariate creative tests to see which perform better before pushing the campaign to your larger audience segments.

Emulate the app experience

It’s been our experience that the better informed a user is prior to installing and opening an app, the more value they’ll generate after install. We’ve seen notably higher average revenue per user metrics when taking care to develop Story campaigns that reflect the in-app user experience as accurately as possible. It’s an effective way of ensuring that a minimum number of users arrive in the app only to discover that it’s something entirely different than what they expected, potentially leading to immediate churn.

Using the three to 20 available Snaps, string together video creatives that emulate your app’s most value-rich moments. For games, this should be a distillation of the core gameplay loop, including any aesthetic features that contribute to the player’s overall enjoyment. For other categories, show exactly how a typical user would access and enjoy the app’s most valuable content. Add graphic elements that illustrate user inputs, like taps or swipes, to see an even higher engagement rate.

End with a cliffhanger

Story ads naturally lend themselves to narratively sound viewing experiences. In addition to observing proper story structure in your campaign creative, don’t be afraid to leave things unresolved in an effort to provoke engagement with your CTA.

We’ve seen exceptionally high performance from campaigns that go the extra mile to engage the user personally, using either visual or textual elements to beg the question, “What would you do in this situation?” The more advertisers can do to tie-in the closing moments of your Story Ad experience with the opening moments of your app’s first-time user experience, the higher value they’ll see from users after install.

Above all, remember that modern advertising is about meeting customers on their terms, in their native digital habitats. Your Story Ads need to be just as entertaining and engaging as the other content appearing in their feed, and should take full advantage of every creative avenue available to them. Include high-fidelity visuals, polished voice over and compelling storylines in order to maximize engagement and see the highest possible returns on your Snapchat ad spend. Do that, and you, too, can look forward to delivering a steady stream of top-quality installs for your mobile app portfolio.

Ran Milo is vice president of marketing at ad automation platform provider Bidalgo.