Why Snapchat Is Here to Stay

Conceived as a platform for pictures that expire within seconds, Snapchat’s founding premise back in 2011 was--quite literally--ephemeral.

Conceived as a platform for pictures that expire within seconds, Snapchat’s founding premise back in 2011 was—quite literally—ephemeral. But five years on, with 150 million daily active users sending Snaps and content available for up to 24 hours, Snapchat is anything but, which is why brand owners that are not giving the platform serious consideration risk missing a trick.

The potential for brand owners is significant.

Snapchat is now the application of choice for younger mobile users. It reaches 41 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds in the U.S., compared with the 6 percent reached by the top 15 TV networks, Nielsen data shows. But use is growing among older users, too—one-half of new daily users in the U.S. are aged 25-plus, Snapchat vice president of content Nick Bell recently revealed at Advertising Week Europe.

Its audience is active and engaged, too, with more than 65 percent of its 150 million daily Snapchatters creating photos and videos. And in just eight weeks, the number of video views on Snapchat rose from 8 billion to 10 billion between February and April.

More than one in three of these active users create Stories, video and photo snaps lasting a full day—an enhancement post-launch to make content less ephemeral. Meanwhile, dwell time is growing quickly, as people spend on average 25 to 30 minutes every day using the platform.

Snapchat enables advertisers to appeal to young mobile users in new and creative ways through three advertising formats.

Brand owners can sponsor Snapchat lenses—the animated creative experiences for users’ selfies—driving significant reach among a young and energetic demographic hard to reach via TV. They can sponsor Snapchat geofilters—the overlays that communicate a user’s where and when. And they can use Snap Ads, which play with sound and are 100 percent full-screen viewable.

Brands such as Taco Bell have made a big impact. Its recent Cinco de Mayo campaign generated the most-viewed sponsored lens in a day with 224 million views, a Snapchat record.

Small wonder that during the recent primaries, even presidential candidates like Bernie Sanders and Marco Rubio used Snapchat ads to engage audiences and inspire them to become brand ambassadors.

Frequency of access is another benefit.

With 62 percent of millennials checking their phone more than 30 times each day, content consumption via mobile is different from other platforms. People consume content faster on mobile than via desktop, Twitter research has shown. Meanwhile Facebook analysis showed that younger people scroll faster on mobile.

An estimated 47 percent of value in a video campaign is delivered in the initial three seconds, and nearly three-quarters in the initial 10 seconds, according to a recent study by Facebook and Nielsen. But even with just a few seconds, brands can be memorable, resonate and stand out–if their use of video is creative.

Short video ads are a natural fit for Snapchat, and the platform claims that because its videos are vertically oriented, users are up to nine times more likely to watch video ads through to completion, as they don’t have to rotate their mobile phones.

Small wonder, then, that in April, Snapchat held the No. 1 spot in the U.S. in the iTunes App Store for free apps for the very first time, outperforming big name apps such as Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, plus a host of popular games.

As a platform, Snapchat is evolving, still, and efforts to improve measurement capabilities are not yet complete. That said, it has added more than 10 measurement partnerships, as well as key targeting capabilities, in the past year.

Yet rapidly growing numbers mean that Snapchat is already on its way to overtaking Facebook as the No. 1 platform for millennials drawn by the authentic experience the app offers, which is why brand owners not already paying it close attention should start doing so, and fast.

Ruth Arber is vice president of strategic accounts at social media advertising agency Adaptly.