Snapchat Is Opening Up Its Marketing Platform to All Ad-Tech Players and Agencies

Will it help the app’s desperate race to attract small advertisers?

Snapchat is fully opening up the advertising spigot. Getty Images
Headshot of Lauren Johnson

Sixteen months ago, Snapchat started testing the water with ad tech and programmatic buying. Now, it’s going all-in and opening up its marketing application programming interface (API) to give a flood of companies access to its ad-buying platform and potentially more data.

Snapchat expanded its Marketing API program today so that any tech vendor, agency or brands can plug into the app to purchase, run and track ad campaigns programmatically. Up until now, the program has been limited to a handful of vetted companies. In theory, the API will allow advertisers to use Snap’s data to inform targeting, measurement and creative.

Roughly 70 companies are part of Snapchat Marketing API, including Adobe, Fetch, The Media Kitchen and VaynerMedia.

“We’ve been listening closely to third-party developers as we transition Snapchat ad products onto our self-serve platform,” said James Borow, director of revenue programs at Snapchat in a statement.

From the tech perspective, Snapchat’s shift to programmatic has already happened for Snapchat. The app has spent the past year or two building out its ad-tech platform and measurement options—including a self-serve platform—and it seems to be working. During Snap’s recent fourth-quarter earnings, CEO Evan Spiegel said that 90 percent of Snap Ads run during the fourth quarter were purchased programmatically, up from 80 percent during the previous quarter.

The story is different on the brand side though. Unlike Facebook, which started its advertising business with small and mid-size businesses before gaining traction with big brands, Snapchat’s pitch was aimed at big brands from the get-go. Film studios, for example, remain some of Snapchat’s biggest advertisers and regularly run time-sensitive campaigns for film releases. For brands that rely on troves of data and stats—like ecommerce and app-install companies—the pitch is harder but expect for Snapchat to continue to try to make inroads with smaller advertisers.

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