Just 397 brands bought video ads on Snapchat Discover channels — which feature content from publishers such as ESPN, Cosmopolitan and BuzzFeed — between November 2017 and January 2018, according to advertising intelligence platform MediaRadar.
That fewer than 400 brands bought ads on Snapchat Discover channels over the three-month period is notable when you compare that to competing social platforms like Facebook, which has more than 5 million advertisers; Twitter, which reported having 130,000 advertisers at the end of 2015; and archrival Instagram, which has over half a million advertisers. We’ll note that Discover channels are not the only video advertising opportunities on Snapchat, and the MediaRadar study does not capture the full universe of advertisers or advertising formats and targeting options available on the app.
Snapchat’s advertising strategy for its Discover business has been to target big brands, with a pricing structure that matches more closely to television buys than performance campaign buys on other social platforms. In contrast, Facebook targets companies of all sizes — from local shops to global brands.
The study shows Snapchat’s monetization strategy has been most effective in attracting media and entertainment brands that want to reach the platform’s teen-centric audience. Media and entertainment accounted for nearly half (48 percent) of the video ads measured. The second-most-popular advertiser category on Snapchat’s Discover channels was technology brands, at 13 percent, followed by retail brands, which accounted for 12 percent of the video ads.
Combined, nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of the advertisers that ran video ads on Snapchat’s Discover channels were media, entertainment, technology or retail brands. Beauty, surprisingly, accounts for just 7 percent of advertising.
“These categories [media and entertainment, technology and retail] run ads supporting new movies, apps, and clothing brands, as a way to specifically target Snapchat’s youthful audience,” writes MediaRadar in its report (registration required).
Automotive and apparel & accessories brands are also not well-represented, accounting for just 5 percent and 3 percent of video ads, respectively. Automotive is the largest category of television advertisers.
MediaRadar says, on average, brands buy video ads on just four to five channels. The study also found zero brands buying video ads across all of a single publisher’s channels: “For example, no advertiser buys both Wired and Vogue (Condé Nast), or Cosmo and Esquire (Hearst).” Likewise, there weren’t any brands buying across all 52 Discover Channels. This is in part because advertisers typically focus on targeting by gender, according to the report.
MediaRadar found iHeart Radio was the most popular channel, with ads from 61 different brands. CNN had the fewest brands running ads, and it has since suspended its channel. On average, channels carried video ads from just 24 brands in the three-month period.
The average length of a Snapchat video ad was eight seconds, with 60 percent of the ads somewhere between eight and 10 seconds in length — although some (fewer than 30 percent) ran as short as five seconds.
Overall, MediaRadar says ad spend across Snapchat channels is not equally distributed — a detail that either points to a long runway of growth for the social media app or a sign that it is struggling to attract brand dollars from a wide range of advertisers as it positions itself as the mobile and social complement to TV brand advertising.