Snap Debuts Self-Serve Platform for Brand Ad Campaigns

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The new Web-based self-serve ad tool Snap Publisher has arrived, riding on a promise to clear the way for brands to create ads and distribute them quickly on Snapchat. Obviously there were already ads on the mobile app, but this speaks to an evolution of social and mobile advertising, and may create a new paradigm where any marketer can put together advertising for the app.

Back in June, Snap announced plans for the platform. Brands now can take graphics assets they use elsewhere and put them into a template to create new ads. Instead of developing content just to appear on Snap, the new tools let marketers leverage video and images they have at hand. Marketers simply pick a template, and add assets (such as logos), and Snap Publisher will do the heavy lifting to optimize the content for distribution as full screen video ads on the app. According to some reports, new ads can be produced in about two minutes with Snap Publisher.

For Snap, it is a way to show the company has viable advertising platform like Facebook, Google, and Instagram, says ad tech expert Mike Kelly, CEO of Kelly Newman Ventures. Before the release of Snap Publisher, proprietary advertising was available on the app where content was tailored, top to bottom for Snapchat. “That’s always going to inhibit your demand,” he says. “If you make everybody make something special for you, it’s going to limit the number of people that are using the platform.”

With the new release, the question now is not whether people will use it, he says, but how quickly will advertisers, big and small, adopt it and see positive outcomes. “Small advertisers really don’t have time for platforms that don’t get them results,” Kelly says.

Self-service tools to produce digital ads have been seen from other companies, with Google being among the first to use them successfully, he says. Yahoo, after it acquired Overture, was also notable on this front. “Everything that came after was compared with that for ease of use and results,” he says.

Facebook later scaled up into a giant with tons of traffic and interactivity before the company even dabbled in advertising. When advertising did come to Facebook, the initial results were viewed as good since there was nothing directly comparable to gauge it against, Kelly says. As other social media outlets rose, such as Twitter, their advertising platforms and results were compared to Facebook. “Now Snap is being compared to Instagram, and possibly Facebook,” he says. “They’re trying to make it easier. They’re trying to increase the addressable market. The proof in the pudding will be whether they get the same kind of, or better results, than Facebook.”

There are lessons in digital advertising that can be learned from the early days of portals such as Yahoo and Aol, Kelly says. Back then, brands had to create nonstandard ads for those portals, but once digital advertising became standardized, the market exploded. What Snap may have encountered, he says, is that brands cannot simply take their ads designed for Facebook and push them onto another platform. “If you could, they’d grow a lot faster,” he says.

This move by Snap might speak to a desire among brands to not be beholden to just one platform. They are also looking to collect and use data they have to make adverting work better and smarter and make mobile work. “The consumer is spending more of their time with mobile,” Kelly says, “and right now, Facebook dominates mobile.”

That calls attention to moves made by companies such as Snap, he says, because there is an expectation they could be viable and successful if they put together the right strategy. There is also potential for  Snap to bring in other publishers who are looking to place their content. Those publishers could bring advertisers, which may get them used to working with Snap. “That’s sort of how Facebook got rolling,” Kelly says.

Joao-Pierre Ruth is a Street Fight contributor.