Ephemeral messaging app Snapchat is finally giving advertising a try, starting with users in the US. The company piloted a native ad on Friday for the upcoming film ‘Ouija’ ahead of its Halloween release date, consisting of a 20 second trailer, freaking out a number of users in the process. Interestingly, Snapchap’s approach appears to intentionally buck the trend for targeted ads, instead focusing on providing a simplistic, non-intrusive experience.
“The best advertisements tell you more about stuff that actually interests you,” the official blog explains. “Some companies spend a lot of time and collect a lot of data about you to figure that out. The product we’re releasing today is a lot simpler. An advertisement will appear in your Recent Updates from time to time, and you can choose if you want to watch it. No biggie. It goes away after you view it or within 24 hours, just like Stories.”
The company is remarkably frank about why it has started to introduce ads – it wants to make money. But loyal users of the app needn’t worry that this will get in the way of what makes it so popular – that is, its ease of use. “We want to see if we can deliver an experience that’s fun and informative, the way ads used to be, before they got creepy and targeted,” the blog elaborates.
“It’s a pretty chill way to approach advertising, and it focuses predominantly on the happiness of the user, not the brand,” says Jordan Crook at TechCrunch. “It’s hard to say the same for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, which all force users to look at ads that are interstitially woven into the main social experience.”
Of course, the downside to an ad which people don’t have to look at is that many probably won’t. Which means the advertising revenue Snapchat is hoping to generate in order to “continue to surprise the Snapchat community with terrific products” may peter out once brands realise there’s more engagement to be had on more conventional platforms. Then again, Snapchat has only been in the ad game for a matter of days – there is still plenty of time for it to change its position on what constitutes “creepy and targeted” content.