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

February 21, 2017 | Andrew Brown

Editor’s Note: This article, which was originally published in February 2017, has been updated to reflect changes made by Snapchat. 

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, this is good news. For advertisers, Snapchat offers a highly engaged audience as well as unprecedented access to millennials—a generation that has collectively eluded brands for years. For Snapchatters, all signs point to them liking the ads. For one, traditional Snap Ads have a reported 5X swipe-up rate versus the average click-through-rate on comparable platforms.

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 from both Google Play and the iTunes App Store without having to leave Snapchat.
  • Long-Form Video to instantly watch extended video content. Select from a variety of CTAs, including “Watch,” “Watch Episode,” “Watch More,” “Watch Trailer,” and “Watch Video.”
  • Web View to take users to pre-loaded fullscreen mobile websites. Plus, with Snapchat’s Auto-Fill capabilities, users can seamlessly send you valuable information, like their email, without any effort.

Snapchat Geofilters: Become One With Their Story

In addition to Snap Ads, you can also leverage Geofilters, an ideal solution to drive awareness, advocacy, and action for your product or service. These location-based overlays, now viewed more than 1 billion times daily, continue to evolve since Snapchat first released them to artists and communities in 2014. (Check out Brand Networks’ guide on creating On-Demand Geofilters.)

Here’s how Geofilters work:

1. 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. Your design is finalized according to Snapchat’s Geofilter specifications. You’ll then select a Geofence, or the area in which Snapchatters can access your Geofilter. If purchasing the Geofence via Snapchat’s On-Demand tool, this area must be between 20,000 and 50,000,000 square feet. Finally, you’ll select a time frame for your Geofilter to run. Currently, you can select any time between one hour and 180 consecutive days. You can also purchase an Annual Filter that runs year-round. If going the annual route, keep in mind that your Geofilter will automatically renew at the then-current price.

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


Snapchat Sponsored GeofilterSnapchat Sponsored 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.

Ready to learn more about Snapchat? Download our free ebook today:
Success in a Snap: A Big Brand’s Guide to Snapchat Advertising 


Disclaimer: The branded content featured is not that of any Brand Networks clients
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Andrew Brown

Marketing Coordinator