Snapchat Introduces Shoppable Snap Ads, Amping Up Its Ecommerce Offerings

Users can access a website without leaving the app

The new Shoppable ads lets consumers shop a product catalog within the app. Courtesy of Snapchat
Headshot of Ann-Marie Alcántara

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Snapchat continues ramping up its commerce platform as the Los Angeles company tries to keep up with Facebook.

After introducing “Shoppable AR” lenses in April, Snapchat is now testing Shoppable Snap and Story ads that can run both on the “Discover” page of the app and between stories. Additionally, Snapchat is letting any advertiser use the Snap Pixel to see the total number and value of purchases of an advertiser’s Snapchat campaign. It’s a continued push into social commerce that many people in the industry see as the future—including Rachel Tipograph, founder and CEO of social video commerce company MikMak.

“The next major storefront is absolutely a social platform,” Tipograph said. “The future of commerce will continue to be highly distributed.”

The new Shoppable Snap ad is simple, and it’s familiar to anyone who’s browsed through brands on social media: an ad with a product catalog at the bottom. If a consumer taps on an item, they’ll be taken to the brand’s website to complete the purchase. On the advertisers side, companies have to enable features like auto-fill or Apple Pay on the mobile website; Snapchat isn’t responsible for it.

The ads will also be available with the Snap Pixel, which is now out of beta and open for anyone to use. The Snap Pixel enables advertisers to see the total value of Snapchat campaigns. Later on this year, Snapchat will also add the ability to measure conversion lift.

Snapchat recently started working with SeatGeek to sell tickets directly on its platform, and the moves this week signal the company’s drive in the recent ecommerce arms race between Facebook.

Lesley Parks, senior social strategist at creative agency Possible, explained that Snapchat’s offering has been “diluted” since the release of Instagram Stories in 2016. “[A]dding shoppable features will keep some key brands spending and some key consumers engaging,” she explained. “Adding true, end-to-end commerce is an essential element of ensuring staying power and competing with Instagram.”

It’s a war that Snapchat has no other choice but to fight, considering that today, Instagram announced its expansion into Instagram Stories shopping capabilities with brands like Adidas and Aritzia. Tippograph said Snapchat has no choice but to expand its ecommerce offerings as it tries to get a larger share of ad dollars—and social commerce.

“Instagram is today’s version of window shopping, so the massive opportunity is there, and it’s why Snap needs to increase its ability to play there,” Tippograph said.

As social platforms continue to roll out more social commerce opportunities, retailers will experience many more pain points, including managing all these platforms and expecting to see more sales come from these social media companies, said Tipograph. However, though these aren’t true shopping experiences, as there’s still a lot of friction to complete a purchase, shopping on social will continue to be normalized. 

“The reality is that most of the darling brands we love today were literally built on the backbone of Facebook and Instagram ads,” Tippograph said. “Whats going to continue to happen is going to become more ingrained with your social behavior.”

@itstheannmarie Ann-Marie Alcántara is a tech reporter for Adweek, focusing on direct-to-consumer brands and ecommerce.