Snapchat Is Ramping Up Agency Services and Unleashing the Next Generation of Its Ad Business

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If advertisers want to avoid news or entertainment content, they now can on Snapchat.
Snapchat

This spring, 20 staffers from digital agency PMG Worldwide huddled, virtually, with Snapchat’s team—piped in via videoconferencing—to learn the intricacies of the popular messaging app, with the platform’s best practices for advertisers topping the agenda.

Over the course of two hours’ worth of training sessions, the social media team at the Fort Worth, Texas-based shop—which has clients like Apple-owned Beats—got an edge on other mobile agencies, getting caught up on the constant stream of Snapchat’s new products and features. Moreover, in the coming months PMG will receive additional coaching and support from Snapchat parent Snap Inc.

This workshop is all part of the new Snapchat Certified Partners program, which the company is set to announce this week on the eve of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. When it comes to agencies, Snapchat won’t just be flipping the switch on its “Open for Business” sign—it also will be knocking on doors and inviting collaborators in like never before.

“[Snapchat is] in our office sometimes it seems like on a weekly basis,” said Angela Seits, director of social media and influencer marketing at PMG. “We’re very closely connected with them in terms of communication because the platform does change so much, so that allows us to be a little bit quicker and more responsive to how we stay up to date.”

One year after unveiling its ads API at Cannes, Snap is again set to make waves on the French Riviera. Snap execs will meet with clients along the Croisette to discuss the new Certified Partners program as well as introduce slick creative tools, a self-serve buying platform and talk about granular measurement tactics—which will take aim at sizable direct-responsive budgets from large and small advertisers.

Imran Khan, chief strategy officer, Snapchat
Alex Dupeux

Clearly, Snapchat has its eye on app-install dollars—a forward-thinking move, as apps are projected to be a $166 billion category in 2017, per App Annie.

If Snapchat’s presence at the festival for the past two years has been about warming up marketers to the app that mesmerizes millions of millennials every day, consider this year to be about proving that the Venice, Calif.-based company—which went through a buzzy IPO in March valued at $24 billion—is growing up and ready to seriously angle for ad dollars alongside Google, Twitter and most notably Facebook-owned Instagram. It’s incumbent on Snapchat to tackle the surge in popularity of Instagram Stories, which has been copying its Stories feature, lenses and graphics that overlay photos and videos. The rivalry may have contributed to Snapchat downloads falling 22 percent during the first two months of the second-quarter compared to the same period the year prior, according to data released by app-analytic firm Sensor Tower. Earlier, in Q1, Snapchat downloads had risen by 6 percent. Snap declined to comment on the report.

Moreover, during Snap’s first earnings report in May, the app missed analysts’ revenue expectations while year-over-year daily user growth slowed to 36 percent, down from a 48 percent yearly uptick during the fourth quarter of 2016.

“Instagram will remain a concern for Snapchat as long as they’re both hitting the same audiences with the same features,” said DigitasLBi’s Jill Sherman, svp, social strategy. “Snapchat has been largely focused on aging up to meet the reach and scale that shareholders demand. The real test will be their ability to reach down again, to compete with the new platforms like Musical.ly, Live.ly, YouNow and Houseparty that are attracting Gen Z in droves.”

Meanwhile, its ad play continues to forge ahead as aggressively as ever. Over the past year, Snap doubled its number of employees to 2,000 and now has sales teams in the U.S., Canada, U.K., France, Germany, the Netherlands and Australia.

This story first appeared in the June 12, 2017, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.