Getting Savvy on Snap: Creative Components for Successful Ad Campaigns

By Jeremiah Zinger, Senior Partner Manager, VidMob  

Since jumping ahead of the social curve more than a decade ago, Snapchat hasn’t let up. Expanding beyond its photo-sharing roots and into augmented reality (AR), the platform has also grown its advertising muscle, from in-stream ads and sponsored lenses to dynamic ads and screen takeovers. With new mid-roll slots currently in beta testing, these ever-extending commercial opportunities are fuelling rising competition; taking global ad spend to almost $3 billion at last count.

For brands, this means that effectively hooking user attention is going to call for deeper understanding of how to give their ads an extra edge. Specifically, they need to know exactly which creative components will help cut through the noise and build connections.

To answer these questions, VidMob conducted research in partnership with Snapchat, leveraging sophisticated creative intelligence technology to analyse nearly 50 billion impressions across thousands of campaigns, from hundreds of advertisers, over two and a half years. The resulting data offers a unique view into core best practices for mastering Snapchat video advertising across three leading sectors — financial services, consumer packaged goods (CPG), and entertainment.

Embracing Succinct Storytelling

Storytelling itself is as important as it’s ever been, however, marketers need to adapt the format of their ads to reflect the defining qualities that initially made Snapchat popular — succinct, speedy content. Snapchat found its fame with 10 second video snaps: quick-fire messaging designed for time-pressed, easily distracted users. So while brand videos are able to extend to up to three minutes, they really only have a small window to capture their audience’s interest.

According to the research, short ads are especially effective for entertainment businesses, with Snap ads lasting less than 10 seconds achieving a 40% higher swipe through rate (STR) when compared to ads between 10-30 seconds long. Immediate transparency and brand clarity were also paramount to swipe through rates and viewing rates across all verticals: for example, a clear CTA in the opening two seconds of adverts sawa 71% spike in STRs for entertainment ads, as well as an 8% jump in average screen time. Importance of initial content was also highlighted for consideration by financial services, with straightforward creative ads, using zero scene changes in the first three seconds, achieving a 17% higher viewing rate.

Colour Is a Key Player

Colour has been known to play a key role in brand perception and building an emotional connection with an audience. This was emphasised by research findings which showed that the ‘silent salesman’ plays an equally crucial part in making an all-important first impression. In other words, across the board, ads that harnessed high-impact colour use – including using bold colours and a high level of contrast – inspired the greatest engagement. This stood out particularly – although not altogether unsurprisingly – for entertainment brands, where enhanced contrast led to 40% higher STRs.

Tap Into Star Power

It’s no secret that star appeal has always drawn in the crowds, and according to this research it makes a positive impact at every stage of the marketing funnel. Celebrity endorsement ads achieved 12% higher view times than the industry standard when used within entertainment, and specifically achieved 40% higher view time compared to ads using non-celebrity talent, as well as experiencing increased STRs by up to 20% further down the funnel.

CPG, and perhaps more surprisingly, financial services, also enjoy a significant uplift in STR when ads include celebrities. Reflective of the growing trend, “finfluencers” caught the attention and enthusiasm of Snapchat’s user base, with those ads seeing a 39% hike in view rates.

When Talking Text, Stick to Minimalism

Considering the findings already discussed, it would be understandable to assume that upfront, bold ads go hand in hand with high-impact text, especially when transcript overlays are increasingly popular in wider social platforms’ video ads. However, the data tells a different story: in the eyes of its users, Snapchat – which has always described itself as a camera company –  remains a visual-first platform.

This was especially true for financial services, where ads with text taking up less than 5% of the screen had 175% higher viewing rates and 9% higher STR. Similarly CPG saw the sparing use of text achieve 85% higher view time and 13% higher STR.

The Future of Visual Creative

Marketers’ avenues for advertising are fast multiplying within Snapchat, making it paramount for brands to remember that delivery is only half the story. To ensure real resonance with users, they must build engaging creative that hits the right note. This research highlighted the key characteristics brands should consider to craft successful, platform-specific ad campaigns: keep it short and sweet, bold and bright, tap into influencer power and let your images do the talking.

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