Snapchat is launching a self-serve platform for Snap ads

After sponsored geofilters, Snapchat is working on launching a new self-serve platform for its Snap ads product, according to sources.

The platform is expected to roll out shortly and is expected to be timed to release alongside the IAB’s Newfronts conference, which kicks off in New York on May 1, said multiple agency executives interviewed by Digiday.

A buyer at an agency, who wished to remain anonymous, said the platform is launching a self-serve option “at least for Snap ads,” soon. Snap ads are full-screen vertical videos that brands can run on Snapchat between users’ curated stories or on the Discover section, or both.

“It has been difficult to activate Snapchat quickly and efficiently, mainly because it still lacks that self-serve advertising option outside of on-demand geofilters,” said Tom Buentempo, president at Attention, KBS’s social media arm.

From 2015 until October last year, buyers could only purchase Snap ads via a managed service, which was basically an insertion order sent to a Snapchat ads partner who would manage and execute the buy. An update in January, however, let media buyers license partner technology and manage those buys in-house. A native self-serve tool offered by Snapchat akin to the one it has for geofilters will be the next step in this evolution.

“A version of the self-serve platform already exists, but you still have to go through a third party, which charges more fees and is restrictive,” the anonymous executive said. “Snapchat’s own native tool would reduce friction since we would no longer have to go through a partner.”

Snapchat’s self-serve platform for Snap ads comes on the heels of the company launching a new self-serve platform for sponsored geofilters in late December, which allows brands and businesses to purchase long-running geofilters over their selected areas by making an annual commitment. The move also comes as advertisers and agencies are pushing back on other platforms, seeking more control and leverage. Snapchat declined to comment for this story.

These changes also come at a particularly important juncture: when the company is seeking to justify its $20 billion-plus valuation after going public. It must also continue to attract a growing roster of advertisers and advertising dollars at a time when Instagram is more aggressively than ever encroaching on its territory. The minimum spend for snap ads used to be $1,000 a day, according to one exec, but just like the self-serve platform for geofilters, the platform for Snap ads is also unlikely to have a minimum spend.

According to Jill Sherman, head of social media lead at DigitasLBi, agencies have been pushing for a self-service tool for a long time, because going through its API partners — who often come with markups — is not always ideal. Besides, many agencies are creating in-house self-serve teams of their own in order to execute buys with more agility and in real time.

“It’s a huge advantage,” she said. “It gives us better control and enables us to also understand performance better.”

Several moves that Snapchat has made recently point toward such a solution coming soon, said Amber Baumer, media manager at Blue Fountain Media. According to her, the recent news of the proprietary reporting dashboard and in-store conversion tracking now available for Snap ads shows that there are more features imminent. Plus, Snapchat also acquired San Francisco-based ad tech company Flite in December 2016, which is known for its tools to make compelling digital ads, like 360-degree video ads and vertical video ads.

For most executives, including Bold Worldwide CEO Brian Cristiano, the self-serve platform for Snap ads is the next crucial evolution of Snapchat, if it wants to be successful. According to him, Snapchat must be able to provide advertisers with the tools, data and results that parallel or exceed the rest of the industry.

Snapchat is aware that lack of metrics is a major reason why many brands are still hesitant to advertise on the platform. Its initial IPO paperwork in February indicated as much, saying that in the past, the platform relied on third-party analytics and it is cognizant that measurement errors could be a problem for the company. Snapchat will also report earnings in May.

Jeremy Sigel, global director of partnerships and emerging experiences at Essence Digital, said that this move is in pursuit of such growth.

“This initiative isn’t just about catering to advertiser gripes; self-serve advertising solutions equal big dollars,” he said. “Managed services require resource and takes time. Self-serve scales up quickly and allows anyone to start advertising.”

 

The post Snapchat is launching a self-serve platform for Snap ads appeared first on Digiday.

Instagram Stories tops 200M daily users, now bigger than Snapchat

Instagram’s eight-month-old Snapchat clone is now bigger than the original and adds several more new Snapchatty features. Every day, more than 200 million people use Instagram Stories, the Facebook-owned photo-and-video app announced on Thursday. By comparison, Snapchat averaged 158 million daily users in the fourth quarter of 2016, though that figure may have grown since the app’s parent company Snap Inc. disclosed it in February 2017.

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Question of the day: Platforms, friend or foe?

The role of platforms was a major topic for attendees at Digiday’s publishing summit in Vail. The relationship between publishers and major traffic drivers like Facebook and Google has never been more important so we sat down with a few publishers to ask them one single question about today’s biggest platforms: Friend or foe? Find out what industry leaders like Andrea Mazey, director of online and video partnerships at Bonnier, ,Jed Hartman, CRO of The Washington Post, Amanda Gomez, senior director of revenue operations at the New York Post, and Kurt Muller, COO of The Onion have to say about Snapchat, Twitter, and the Facebook-Google duopoly.

The post Question of the day: Platforms, friend or foe? appeared first on Digiday.

With 40 in sales, Snapchat is building its UK ad business

Snapchat parent company Snap is busy scaling its ad business in the giant U.S. market, while also building a global business. In the U.K., Snapchat’s first international market, the platform has doubled its headcount in the past six months, now boasting 40 sales people calling on agencies and brands in London, and around 115 people total, according to sources.

The U.K. is Snapchat’s second-largest market for users, with 11.2 million users, according to eMarketer, which predicts growth will slow to 13.6 million by the end of 2017, reaching one-third of U.K. mobile users. The U.K. is the typical first stop in international expansion for U.S.-based platforms. Snap is outgrowing its 12,570 square feet of Soho office space and is rumored to be looking at additional offices.

Ad buyers say Snap has come a long ways in a short time. A year and a half ago, Ellie Hummerston, who at the time was working as a social content assistant at ASOS, needed to wait a day for a team in Snapchat’s Venice, California, headquarters to make a simple creative change. Now, Snap’s U.K. team responds within a day to queries about changes to creative or about new projects.

“They have been eager to partner with people and make things work,” said Kevin Chan, business director at Havas agency Socialyse, which has run Snapchat campaigns for the BBC and O2.  “The U.S. is bigger. Things happen first there.”

Snap is renowned for its secretive nature when it comes to product launches or public appearances. This has filtered to the U.K. For instance, gm of U.K. sales, Claire Valoti, former head of agency relations at Facebook, has been at Snap since February 2016 and has since appeared on stage just three times. It’s an effective and deliberate PR strategy; when you do have something to say, people will listen.

On the other side, Snap is often compared to Google and Facebook, which are more mature in the U.K. market. Several agencies groused about a lack of measurement, for instance, compared to the duopoly.

“It’s the most frustrating thing about Snapchat,” said one agency exec. “And if you find a [third-party analytics] company that can offer Snapchat analytics you’ll be looking at £3,000 ($3,750) a month.” Instead, Snapchat should consider insight tools for the platform, including engagement metrics, like how often a filter has been shared.

“Rich, targeted data in the ad space would be an important win,” agreed Chan. The problem is that it’s unlikely Snap will give out this kind of hyper-targeted data.

When running a campaign for the first time, brands need to take that leap of faith, Snapchat’s young ad business means there’s a lack of historical and comparative data. A sponsored lens or a national geofilter costs in the region of £90,000 ($112,000), the creative takes time and resource to build, and it’s only suitable for Snapchat.

“When we have challenged them, when we need data to prove something works, they have come up with the goods,” said Socialyse’s Chan. At times, Snapchat will beef up in-depth figures for brands by making use of U.S data, which has been enough to get the nod of approval from U.K. brands, according to Chan. “The product is so different that they have to listen to brand feedback,” he added.

Like in the U.S., Snap is focused on the big opportunity of TV dollars, according to some agencies.

“The metrics it offers are not in tune with what a team working on social platforms is used to,” said Tim Armoo, CEO at influencer platform Fanbytes. “This issue comes from misunderstanding what specific pot of money Snapchat is taking budget from, whether it’s digital or TV. That’s a misalignment from the agency and the client, rather than from Snapchat.”

The post With 40 in sales, Snapchat is building its UK ad business appeared first on Digiday.

How The New York Times, CNN, and The Huffington Post approach publishing on platforms

Publishing used to be relatively simple. You published a newspaper once a day or produced a nightly newscast. Even with the advent of the Internet things were fairly straightforward: You had a website and posted your coverage there. But as platforms — from Facebook and Snapchat to messaging platforms such as Kik and Line — become more ubiquitous, news organizations now have to decide where they want to publish and how they want to present their coverage on these platforms.

A study out this week from the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University examines how platforms have changed journalism, and while the entire 25,455-word report is worth reading, one particularly interesting section looks at how news outlets are choosing to publish (or not publish) across a variety of platforms.

The report compares how The New York Times, CNN, and The Huffington Post utilized platforms during a week in early February. In that span, each outlet posted to about 10 different platforms. The Times and HuffPo each posted about 1,660 times across the various platforms. CNN, however, published more than 2,800 stories, about 40 percent more than the other two.

The Tow report defines two primary different types of platform-based content: native and networked. Native content includes entities such as Snapchat Discover and Stories, Facebook Instant Articles, or Apple News. These formats live entirely within the walled gardens of the platforms. Networked content, meanwhile, links back to the news organizations’ own sites.

The study examined 14 publishers and found that during the week of Feb. 6, they posted 12,341 pieces of networked content and 11,481 pieces of native content.

“While publishers all need to have a presence across a broad range of platforms, how they distribute their content — and, in particular, the amount they ‘give away’ to platforms in the form of native content — differs considerably,” the study said.

During the week of February 6, two-thirds of The Huffington Post’s distributed content was posted in native formats. That includes 695 stories on Apple News and 305 Facebook posts, which include Instant Articles, Live Video, and other formats. “These native Facebook posts also represent 98 percent of Huffington Post’s total Facebook posts,” the study found.

CNN similarly posted 59 percent of its content natively. That included 1,016 Apple News Articles, 948 tweets, and 278 YouTube videos. The report also noted that “CNN’s concerted effort to reach younger audiences is also evident in its Snapchat Discover channel, on which we saw a shift away from scrollable articles repurposed from cnn.com to more bitesize news cards, and its ongoing commitment to chat app LINE.”

Meanwhile, only 16 percent of the Times’ posts were native. The Times was one of a handful of news organizations that Facebook launched Instant Articles with in 2015, but the paper has since stopped publishing on Instant Articles. During the week that Tow measured the posts, just 19 percent of the Times’ 406 Facebook posts were native to the platform. The paper also posted 74 stories on Apple News.

Unlike The Huffington Post and CNN, the Times is focused on digital subscriptions and its main goal is to drive users back to its own platforms, which explains its reluctance to use native posts.

In a speech at a conference last year, Lydia Polgreen, who was then the editorial director of the Times’ global expansion effort and is now the editor of The Huffington Post, explained how the Times’ approach to platforms is different than other publishers.

Social platforms, especially Facebook, allow us to target our journalism to those most likely to want to pay for it. I believe that we are better off as Facebook’s happy customer than as its outgunned competitor in a David and Goliath fight for advertising dollars.

Yes, Facebook will try mightily to keep news consumers inside its platforms, via features like Instant Articles. Our job is to create experiences that will draw our most loyal users back, again and again, to our own products. So far, we seem to be succeeding at this. We will never be as big or financially successful as Facebook, but I believe we can run a thriving media company that can afford a lavishly funded news operation, as well as return value to our shareholders.

Many of the people the study’s authors — Emily Bell and Taylor Owen — interviewed reiterated that business models often determine how news organizations approach publishing on the platforms:

Jim Brady, founder and CEO of Billy Penn, a Philadelphia mobile news platform, said that when it came to Instant Articles, “I can afford to be a little bit more agnostic about it than someone whose revenue is tied to where the page view lies.” Gabe Dance, former managing editor of the not-for-profit news organization the Marshall Project said their resources were focused on “impact” because that’s what funders care about. And, after an unsuccessful experiment with NPR to host audio natively on the platform, Wright Bryan, senior editor for engagement, walked away wondering, “Does audio really fit a format like Facebook?”

One example of this is that the study showed that publishers’ attitudes toward Instant Articles in particular varied greatly. Outlets such as The Washington Post, Vox, and BuzzFeed News all posted more than 90 percent of their links as Instant Articles during the week of February 6. Meanwhile, Vice, Vice News, and Tronc papers the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times aren’t using Instant Articles at all.

“I think because there’s a continuous debate as to the very question: ‘What do you need to control, and what things do you not,’” Sterling Proffer, head of business strategy and development at Vice, told the study’s authors. “Going all in, solely on the platform to support your entire ecosystem in every way, is a big gamble.”

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