Snapchat Advertising: A Complete Guide to the Ad Types You Need to Know

With more than 150M daily active users watching 10B Snaps per day, Snapchat’s highly anticipated Snap Ads Partner program launched in early October 2016. For brands and Snapchatters alike, this is good news. For advertisers, Snapchat offers a highly engaged audience as well as unprecedented access to millennials—a generation that’s collectively eluded brands and their old-school advertising techniques for years. For Snapchat users, all signs point to them liking the ads. For one, Snap Ads have a reported 5X swipe-up rate versus the average click-through-rate on comparable platform.

With so much intrigue swirling around Snapchat’s push into social ad solutions, we thought it’d be a good time to take you through the Snapchat advertising opportunities currently available:

Snap Ads: An Interactive Social Ad Experience

In 2014, Snapchat’s first paid advertisement, a 20-second trailer promoting Universal’s movie, Ouija, appeared in users’ “Recent Updates.” Despite giving users the option to skip the ad, Millward Brown reported a 13% turnout increase for those exposed to the ad.

Now called Snap Ads, these ad units no longer appear among Recent Updates. Instead, they thrive between User Stories, appear in tandem with Live content, and can be found scattered throughout Discover.

Snap Ads

1. Snap Ads: Thriving Between User Stories

Beginning with a vertical, full-screen video of up to 10 seconds, Snap Ads between user stories are similar to TV commercials. However, unlike their TV counterparts, they’re skippable—a level of autonomy we believe has aided Snap Ads’ initial success. It’s also worth noting that the vertical format of Snap Ads, which has long been frowned upon by digital advertisers, is making Snap Ads more effective. In fact, Snapchat reports that content shot vertically is viewed to completion 9X more frequently than that which is shot horizontally.

2. Snap Ads: In Tandem With Live  

Live is a way for Snapchatters to share near real-time looks into live events like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, presidential campaigns, and sporting events. Often receiving tens of millions of views, Live has been grabbing brands’ attention as a valuable advertising opportunity due to its widespread popularity and in-the-now perspective.

3. Snap Ads: Scattered Throughout Discover

Users are widely accepting Discover as a winning combination of social, magazines, and news from some of the world’s biggest publishers, including CNN and Mashable. Cosmopolitan, one of Discover’s more popular publishers, reported that its channel is averaging 19 million views per month. With this collective interest from users and premium placement within Snapchat’s ecosystem, the virtual newsstand should continue to present an attractive ad offering for brands.

Add More to Snap Ads 

Expanding upon its ad placements isn’t the only change Snap Inc. has made to its flagship mobile app since ads debuted. Now, advertisers can choose to add a swipe-up feature to get users to spend more time with the brand and help them reach a variety of campaign goals. For advertisers, the neat thing is that any further engagement coming as a result of a swipe up is no extra charge.

The swipe-up feature can be used to accomplish any of the following objectives:

– Mobile App Install to download mobile apps without having to leave Snapchat

– Long-Form Video to instantly watch extended video content

– Web View to take users to pre-loaded fullscreen mobile websites

– App Install to drive installs for your app with a swipe and a tap.

Snapchat Filters: Become One With Their Story

In addition to Snap Ads, brands can also leverage branded Geofilters. These location-based overlays have continued to evolve since Snapchat first released them to communities in 2014. Once reserved for artists and designers, they’re now widely available and include Sponsored Geofilters and On-Demand Geofilters. (Check out our guide on how to create On-Demand Geofilters.)

Here’s how Filters work:

1. First, create a compelling design according to Snapchat’s guidelines. On-Demand Geofilters can be created by anyone. (The creation of Sponsored Geofilters must go through Snap Inc. or its Creative Partners.)

2. Once a design is finalized, a pre-defined area and timeframe is selected. This is where and when the Geofilter will be available to Snapchatters. For example, if an automotive brand wanted to promote the launch of a new car, creating a geofence around a dealership (or dealerships) during the launch would make sense.

3. Then, when a user is within the geofence during the allotted time, they’re able to add the Geofilter to their Snap instantly.

Sponsored Geofilters

Sponsored Geofilters are designed for national and global businesses looking to insert their brand into millions of Snaps every day. Snap Inc. reported that the typical Sponsored Geofilter reaches 40% to 60% of all daily Snapchatters.

Men’s Wearhouse used Sponsored Geofilters (seen right) as a feature part of its campaign to drive awareness during prom season. Deploying the Sponsored Geofilter around over 18,000 high schools across the US and Canada, it was viewed over 17 million times and had an engagement rate of nearly 50%.

Snapchat Sponsored GeofilterSnapchat Sponsored Geofilter

On-Demand Geofilters

On-Demand Geofilters are available to small businesses and individuals. From corporate events to grand openings to birthday parties, On-Demand Geofilters are a perfect standalone or supplemental feature to get the community involved.

While not a small business, Vans integrated On-Demand Geofilters into its overarching national campaign to invite the world to its event celebrating 50 years of “Off The Wall” Heritage and Creative Expression. Simultaneously launching On-Demand Geofilters around landmarks important to the company, the campaign increased ad recall, brand favorability, and purchase intent by 29, 20, and 34 points, respectively.

We created some, too.

Snapchat On-Demand GeofilterSnapchat On-Demand Geofilter

Sponsored Lenses for a Playful Twist

Since becoming available in late 2015, the number of Snaps featuring Lenses has grown from 10 million to 30 million, according to a Snapchat spokesperson. It’s no surprise, then, that this interactive ad type has become a favorite of Snapchatters and brands alike.

Gatorade, for example, ran one of the most successful Sponsored Lens campaigns to date. Using the iconic “Gatorade Dunk,” the Sponsored Lens was “played” 60 million times and increased purchase intent by over eight points.

Note: Currently, advertisers must go directly through Snap Inc. when creating and implementing Sponsored Lenses.  

Snapchat Sponsored Lens


Snapchat video views per day have increased more than 350% since last year. What’s more, eMarketer predicts that Snapchat’s user base will increase to 217 million by the end of 2017. Couple that promising growth with the initial success of Snapchat advertising, and you have a new ad platform that could produce huge returns for advertisers, not only this year but for years to come.

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Success in a Snap: A Big Brand’s Guide to Snapchat Advertising