Snapchat is holding its ground in its war with Instagram
Since its launch in August 2016, Instagram Stories has had Snapchat in the crosshairs, and has even surpassed it in some respects. The feature, which allows users to post ephemeral stories for a 24-hour period just like Snapchat, has not only accumulated more users using it daily (250 million as of June versus Snapchat's last reported 166 million), but also attracted a growing chunk of ad dollars.
But while Instagram's pure reach and targeting capabilities have made it an attractive bet for brands, a lot of them are still sticking with Snapchat."Advertisers are excited about the expanded ad space size, but we haven't seen too many shifts in spending from Snapchat to Instagram outside of its core capabilities," said Danielle Johnsen Karr, director of social and editorial strategy at Deutsch New York. "As an ad unit, Instagram Stories is still relatively expensive, and acts as a separate unit outside standard buys within Facebook and Instagram."
Karr did not provide names of specific advertisers who had not yet made the leap to Instagram Stories, but the agency's clients include Volkswagen and Taco Bell.
For other brands, including Honda and Universal Pictures, it all boils down to the target audience. The rationale is simple: if your audience is engaged on the platform, it makes sense to target them there. Add to that the fact that each daily user spends an average of 30 minutes on Snapchat, with over 60% of daily users creating content on the platform everyday, and it becomes hard to ignore for marketers.
"While Instagram is a behemoth, we and our clients still understand the value of Snapchat, and will continue to evaluate it as it innovates and adds targeting and measurement capabilities," said Hartman Wong, supervisor of digital strategy at RPA, Honda's ad agency. "We're going to pursue our audiences wherever it makes sense, and that factors in everything from cost efficiency to ability to impact brand lift to user engagement."
Honda has run ads in the Discover section within Snapchat for some recent campaigns. Meanwhile, Universal Pictures has been all over Snapchat for the latest film in its Despicable Me franchise, which comes out this week. The studio has bought several Snap ads in the run-up to the film's release, including swipe-up ones with quizzes tied to Father's Day, as well as World Lenses, which let you add augmented reality elements to anything you take a picture or video of.
"Snapchat remains a very substantial platform for us to reach our audience," said Doug Neil, EVP of digital marketing at Universal Pictures. "If you have the right call-to-action, the Snapchat audience is one that really engages with content, with our engagement metrics often being two times the usual benchmarks."It helps that Snapchat is also revving up as far as innovation goes, said Tom Buontempo, president at Attention. For him, while it may take some time, Snapchat's focus on its new media partnerships and platform innovation has helped it tackle Instagram's offensive.
"They're helping traditional media figure out how to be relevant to cord cutters, they're transforming the traditional advertising model and they're trying hard to scale self-serve quickly to show advertising revenue growth," he said. "They've also done a great job of delivering pioneering ad products such as lenses and geofilters, that have been custom built on the back of their audience's nuanced behaviors."
In other words, as long as Snapchat continues to scale its new ad alternatives with self-serve options, templates and quicker review windows, advertisers are here to stay.
"There's still the opportunity to innovate with web builds and with comprehensive plans touching upon filters and lenses," said Deutsch's Karr. "The new ability for brands to be integrated into sponsored media content on the platform could be a huge game changer."