Consultants are excited by Snapchat’s new ad targeting capabilities, but some warn only big-budget campaigns will be able to harness them.
Snapchat boasts a coveted audience of young voters and consultants have been waiting to see what the Venice, Calif.-based platform was going to with its advertising options this cycle.
This week it unveiled Snap Audience Match, which allows campaigns and advocacy groups to upload their target lists and match them against Snapchat’s data. It’s also offering lookalike audiences, where political advertisers can target the characteristics of one their own supporters, and Snapchat Lifestyle Categories, which allows advertisers to direct ads to users who are watching certain types of videos. The platform won’t, however, support cookie targeting.
“We’re working hard to show our community engaging, relevant ads, in turn helping our advertising partners drive amazing return on investment,” Imran Khan, Snapchat’s chief strategy officer, told the Wall Street Journal.
Beth Becker, a Democratic digital strategist, said that while she liked the lookalike audiences for fundraising and finding donors, overall she wasn’t impressed by Snapchat’s long-awaited move. “I’m having a hard time getting excited about this,” she said.
Becker pointed to how in-snap ads still weren’t self-serve and required 24 hours to be approved and placed. That delay negates the rapid response most down-ballot campaigns use digital ads for, she said. While the geo-filters can be self-served, Becker isn’t sold on their effectiveness.
“I’ve seen mixed results,” she said. “They’re not my go-to for down-ballot campaigns. I still would say, go to Facebook first, or even Pinterest first. It’s a capacity issue and resources issue for small campaigns.”
With some 150 million daily users and a coveted younger-skewing demographic, other consultants saw more potential in Snapchat’s new features.
Brian Ross Adams, a Los Angeles-based digital consultant, called it a “huge leap.”
“The ability to target voters based on their email addresses from the voter file or campaign database will allow political campaigns to reach users on a platform they use and trust,” he said.
Still, he questioned whether campaigns would pivot to the platform before November.
“While this puts Snapchat on par with some Facebook targeting features, I do not know if campaigns will be nimble enough to re-allocate their budgets and take advantage of this enhanced targeting feature,” Adams said.
Meanwhile, Dean Petrone, a GOP digital consultant with Go Big Media, said he would encourage clients to shift their resources into Snapchat this cycle.
“While the platform does present some budgetary hurdles for down-ballot campaigns, it's hard to ignore Snapchat's reach and popularity among certain demos of voters,” he said, pointing to how last August, more 18-24 year olds tuned into the first GOP debate via Snapchat live story than they did through television. “Anytime a platform makes advancements that allow you to use your dollars more effectively and efficiently, a campaign is going to listen.”
But Petrone also sounded a cautionary note on the new services: "It's yet to be seen if campaigns will be able to leverage these new features the same way national brands might.”