Snapchat is an image and video messaging app, developed by Stanford University students Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy, and Reggie Brown in 2011. It allows users to capture and send ‘Snaps’ that are only viewable for a set duration of 1 to 10 seconds or until closed by recipient, after which they are automatically deleted. Originally, this was just photos; video capability was added in 2012.
Evan Spiegel has stated in interviews that the smartphone camera was at the very heart of the Snapchat concept – indeed, it describes itself as a ‘camera company‘. There were many other apps that were centred on pictures, the most prominent being Instagram, but only Snapchat let users communicate solely through pictures. This novel concept allowed gave the app its USP.
A number of additional features have been added to complement this. In 2013, Snapchat introduced ‘Stories’, allowing users to package a series of chronological snaps – a feature since replicated by Instagram. While these are time limited, lasting for 24 hours, Snapchat users now have the option to save specific Snaps onto a private storage area with the ‘Memories’ feature.
Users can use the map feature to share the location of their snaps with other users, while the ‘Crowd Surf’ feature allows Snapchatters to see video footage from different vantage points when a high concentration of users is filming in the same place at the same time.
In 2018 Snapchat moved away from user-generated content for the first time. Snapchat Originals features original video content shot for Snapchat specifically. Names like NBCUniversal (with which Snapchat co-owns a studio), A&E Networks, the BBC, ABC, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer have been mentioned in connection with Snapchat Originals.
A new spate of these were announced in April 2019, with Buzzfeed perhaps the most eye-catching contributor. April 2019 also saw the announcement of Snap Games – a new social gaming platform within the app.
Snapchat has been a real pioneer in bringing augmented reality to the mainstream through its filters; AR features were opened up to external developers for the first time in 2018. In 2016 Snap Inc., Snapchat’s parent company, began to sell Spectacles, glasses with a built-in camera capable of recording 10 seconds of video and posting it online via paired smartphones. Spectacles 3 were announced in August 2019 – with two cameras in order to capture footage in 3D. Snap Inc. also owns Bitmoji, and Zenly.
A controversial redesign of the app in 2018 was publicly criticised by Kylie Jenner. Jenner’s tweet instantly knocked $1 billion off the value of the company. Later in the year saw the first drop in user numbers posted by Snapchat since launch. CEO Evan Spiegel received a petition signed by 1.2 million users calling for the redesign to be reversed.
After a tough 2018, however, Snapchat’s fortunes have turned around. A renewed focus on its core Gen Z userbase (note that Buzzfeed collaboration), improved functionality, and advances in augmented reality are credited for the recovery, followed by the growth of user numbers. An improved Android app is also thought to have helped matters.
On March 2, 2017 Snap Inc. went public, 6 years after its creation in 2011, with shares priced at $24. A low point in December 2018, at which point Snap shares could be purchased for under $5, seems long in the memory (at the time of writing at least) with stock climbing back to IPO levels.
Continue reading to see our compilation of Snapchat user and usage statistics, as well as Snapchat revenue statistics and comparison stats between Snapchat and key rival Instagram.
Table of Contents
|HQ||Santa Monica, California|
|People||Evan Spiegel (CEO, cofounder), Bobby Murphy (CTO, cofounder), Reggie Brown (cofounder)|
|Company type||Public (NYSE: SNAP)|
|IPO date||2 March 2017|
Key Snapchat User Statistics
|Snapchat DAU by region|
|North America*||Europe**||Rest of world|
* includes Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean
** includes Russia and Turkey
|Snapchat US penetration by age group|
|Snapchat US users, millions|
|Snapchat global users, millions|
|Snapchat users by country, April 2020, millions|
Key Snapchat Financial Statistics
|Snapchat quarterly revenue, USD millions|
|Snapchat annual revenue, USD millions|
|Snapchat revenue by region, USD millions|
|North America||Europe||Rest of World|
|Snapchat annual revenue by region, USD millions|
|North America||Europe||Rest of World|
|Snapchat ARPU by region, USD|
|North America||Europe||Rest of world|
|Snapchat quarterly net profit/(loss), USD millions|
|Snapchat annual net profit/(loss), USD millions|
|Snapchat EDITDA margin|
|Snapchat operating margin|
|Snapchat valuation/market cap|
|February 2013||$60-70 million|
|June 2013||$800 million|
|December 2014||$10 billion|
|December 2015||$14.8 billion|
|May 2016||$17.5 billion|
|2 March 2017 (IPO)||$24 billion|
|3 April 2017||$25.5 billion|
|3 July 2017||$21.2 billion|
|2 October 2017||$17.3 billion|
|1 January 2018||$18.4 billion|
|2 April 2018||$18.5 billion|
|2 July 2018||$17.7 billion|
|1 October 2018||$10.1 billion|
|7 January 2019||$8.4 billion|
|1 April 2019||$16.1 billion|
|1 July 2019||$21.2 billion|
|7 October 2019||$19.5 billion|
|6 January 2020||$24.8 billion|
|6 April 2020||$19.4 billion|
|6 July 2020 (all-time high)||$36.4 billion|
|17 December 2018 (all-time low)||$6.5 billion|
|Snapchat stock price|
|3 March 2017 (all-time high)||$27.09|
|7 April 2017||$20.82|
|7 July 2017||$17.18|
|6 October 2017||$14.79|
|5 January 2018||$14.50|
|6 April 2018||$14.25|
|6 July 2018||$13.53|
|5 October 2018||$7.77|
|4 January 2019||$5.95|
|5 April 2019||$11.84|
|5 July 2019||$15.23|
|4 October 2019||$14.52|
|3 January 2020||$16.75|
|3 April 2020||$11.06|
|2 July 2020||$23.22|
|21 December 2018 (all-time low)||$4.92|
|Snapchat funding rounds|
|Seed funding||May 2012||$485,000||Lightspeed|
|Series A||Feb 2013||$15 million||Benchmark|
|Series B||June 2013||$80 million||IVP|
|Series C||December 2013||$54.5 million||Coatue|
|Series D||December 2014||$485.6 million||Kleiner Perkins|
|Series E||December 2015||$200 million||Alibaba|
|Series F||May 2016||$1.8 billion||Various inc. Sequoia, T. Rowe Price, Fidelity|
Other Key Snapchat Statistics
- 36% of US teen say Snapchat is their favourite platform, more than any other app, including Instagram, chosen by 31% (Marketing Charts)
- 82% of US teens use Snapchat monthly (Marketing Charts)
- Average Snapchat user spends 30 minutes per day using the app (other estimates range from 27 minutes to 50 minutes (Snapchat)
- Snapchat users open the app 30 times per day on average (Snapchat via TechCrunch)
- Snapchat 11th most downloaded app globally in Q2 2020 (Sensor Tower)
- 73% of US adults aged 18-24 are Snapchat users, according to Pew Research Center stats (Pew Research Center)
- 27% of US adults use Snapchat in all (Pew Research Center)
- 61% of Snapchat users globally are female (Statista)
- 4 billion snaps are sent per day, as of Q1 2020 (Snapchat)
- Snapchat users send an average of 34 snaps per day (Daily Beast)
- Snapchat daily video views average 10 billion (Bloomberg)
- 15 billion plays with Snapchat lens as of April 2019 (Snapchat)
- Over 75% of Snapchat users engage with augmented reality daily (180 million in Q2 2020) (Snapchat)
- A total of 900,000 lenses created by users as of Q1 2020 (Snapchat)
- Snapchat Originals series Endless Summer counted 28 million viewers over its first series (CNBC)
- Snapchat Originals series Nikita Unfiltered garnered 20 million viewers in its first month in March 2020 (Snapchat)
- Over 60 Snapchat shows reached 10 million viewers in Q1 2020, compared to 50 in Q4 2019 (Snapchat)
- Snapchat Discover ad pricing – $50,000+ a day (Strike Social)
- Snap Ads are available for $3,000 month (Strike Social)
- Advertisers can also buy sponsored lenses for $450,000-$700,000 a day – people play with these for an average of 20 seconds (Strike Social)
Snapchat User Statistics
How many people use Snapchat?
Snapchat reported 238 million daily active users in Q2 2020, up from 229 million in Q1 2020, and 203 million in Q2 2019. It seems that photo apps are relatively immune from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, in DAU terms at least.
Six quarters of continuous growth represents a reversal of fortune for Snapchat after a difficult 2018, which saw a decline from 191 million daily active users in Q1 2018 to 188 million in Q2 2018, and a stagnant 186 million in Q3 and Q4 2018. This followed a much-maligned redesign (by influential Kylie Jenner, among others) in Q1 2018.
The 203 million figure also represents the first year-on-year increase in Snapchat DAU since Q3 2018, with even the quarterly improvement of 190 million in Q1 2018 down on 191 million DAU in Q1 2018.
Snapchat user growth was strongest in percentage terms between 2014 and 2017. In Q1 2014 Snapchat users numbered slightly over 40 million, the bulk of whom were in North America. By Q1 2015 the company doubled its user base to 80 million and by Q1 of this 2017 it managed more than double this number again (166 million). Growth has been more steady since then.
Snapchat daily active users worldwide, Q1 2014 – Q2 2020, millions
eMarketer predicts that we’ll see Snapchat global users (presumably overall rather than DAU) climb to 315 million in 2020 from 293 million in 2019. By 2023, it predicts we’ll see the figure rise to 356 million – or 10.4% of social media users.
Snapchat predicted global users to 2023
In Q2 2020, North Americans (including Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean) accounted for the greatest share of Snapchat DAU – 90 million to be precise. The rest of the world was home to 77 million Snapchat DAU, having overtaken Europe the previous quarter. European (including Russia and Turkey) Snapchat users accounted for 71 million in Q2 2020.
Snapchat DAUs in the rest of the world have increased 13-fold since Q1 2014, compared to five-fold growth in Europe and 3.5-fold growth in North America.
This, however, reflects the uneven state of play back in 2014. Shorter-term trends are more edifying, though they tell a similar story. From Q1 2019, Snapchat has added 10 million DAU each in North America, compared to
Snapchat DAU by region, Q1 2014 – Q2 2020, millions
While North American users are still the core demographic of the Snapchat daily user base, they have come to gradually occupy a smaller percentage of the total Snapchat users as European and rest of the world users account for an increasing share. In Q1 2014, North American Snapchat users accounted for 57%, Europeans for 30%, and the rest of the world for 13% of the total user base.
By Q2 2020, North American Snapchat users accounted for 38%, European remained at 30%, and the rest of the world for 32%. With Snapchat seeming to have taken hold in the diverse markets of the rest of the world, would it be a huge surprise to see it eventually overtake North America, by virtue of the huge youth markets opening up?
The US remains by far the biggest Snapchat market, however, with 103 million users to second-placed India’s 28 million (April 2020) – though this may be an early harbinger of the power of Asian youth markets to tilt the balance. These figures, pertaining simply to ‘users’, have been drawn from external sources, so may not match up with Snap’s official DAU numbers, it should be noted.
The rankings are a bit closer after that point, with some interesting results included; namely Saudi Arabia in fifth place and Turkey in tenth. Snapchat’s global reach, then, should not be underestimated, despite its US-ward tilt.
Snapchat users by country, April 2020, millions
Snapchat was the 11th most downloaded app globally in Q2 2020, showing that new users are still being drawn to the app, even in a pandemic (if not because of the pandemic)
Snapchat users in the US
Snapchat is one the most-popular social media channels in the US, nearly a quarter of American adults stating they used the channel in 2019 – putting it ahead of Twitter and WhatsApp (albeit in a relatively weak market for WhatsApp).
US Snapchat penetration is down, however, on 2018’s figure of 27%, with LinkedIn moving ahead in ubiquity.
US Snapchat penetration vs. other popular apps
In light of the year-on-year decrease reported in Q1 2019, eMarketer downgraded their expectations for Snapchat’s performance in the US. Following the controversial redesign of 2018, Snapchat user growth certainly stagnated in its home market, as it did across the world.
eMarketer predicted that Snapchat will lose US users over 2019 for the first time, with a 3% reduction, with the following years seeing very small levels of growth. Over this period, we will also see penetration among internet users reduce (as the Pew Research Center suggests occurred between 2019 and 2018).
In 2018, Snapchat users accounted for 40% of US internet users – by 2023, in this estimation, this will have reduced to 35%. Absolute numbers will stay relatively level after 2019’s dip, with absolute growth of 0.6 million between 2019 and 2023, according to these predictions.
US Snapchat user forecast
Indeed, stats from late 2019 show a different picture. While this gives us a lower figure for US Snapchat users in 2018, we will see numbers rise as high as 86.1 million by 2022 if these predictions are sound.
Predicted US Snapchat users to 2022
Pew Research Center data also gives us some other insights in who uses Snapchat in the US. We can see that Snapchat usage in its home market is split evenly between male and female users, with 24% of both using the app (all percentages below are of total users falling into each demographic bracket).
Snapchat usage seems to be most prevalent in lower income brackets – which when we consider the age of users (see below) checks out, given the lower earning potential of those who have not long been in the workforce. There’s a spike in usage among those who have attended some college, though again, this chimes with age demographics, with many users likely to still be midway their college degrees.
As with most apps, we see a higher level of usage among urbanites – which makes sense given the fast-paced and highly social nature of Snapchat. The gap is, in proportional terms, particularly pronounced here. Interestingly, Snapchat usage is pretty even between rural and suburban users.
US Snapchat user demographics, 2019
Data source: Pew Reseach Center
Snapchat users by age
The core user group of Snapchat are Generation Z, seemingly.
According to Pew Research Center social media statistics, Snapchat usage (like Instagram) is concentrated among younger users in the US, with 73% of 18-24 year olds using the app. By the next demographic up (25-29), Snapchat usage has fallen to 47%. It carries on falling as we go up the age groups (25% of 30-49 year olds; 9% of 50-64 year olds, and a mere 3% of over 65s).
Snapchat usage by age group vs. other social media
Source: Pew Reseach Center
2019 eMarketer Snapchat stats show 81.3% of American social media users age 18-24 use Snapchat.
The second-highest concentration can be found among those aged 12-17, 66.5% of whom are Snapchat users, with 49.2% penetration among 25-34-year-olds.
The preceding year eMarketer reported figures of 92% and 56% for these brackets respectively, with 94% penetration in the 18-24 bracket – though the variance is such to suggest different data sources rather than being indicative of a trend.
Snap enjoys prevalence over Pinterest in these younger age brackets, with the reverse the case in older age groups.
Snapchat US penetration by age group
A study published by Marketing Charts, focusing in on that 12-17 bracket, finds that Snapchat remains the preferred social media platform with US teens, 36% of whom elect the app as their favourite, compared to the 31% who choose Instagram – though the gap does seems be narrowing since 2017.
The story, however, is not as simple as a long-term lead being slowly eroded – indeed, back in spring 2015 when this graphic begins, Snap’s 11% looked nothing like threatening Instragram’s share of 29%. Something happened, however; by Spring 2016 Snapchat had caught up, and has led fairly comfortably since then.
It’s worth noting, however, that things can change quickly with this demographic as it grows, fashions change, and new users take the place of old.
These two apps are well out in front, with a mere 6% a piece reporting that they favoured Twitter and Facebook (the former taking a big hit since 2015, at which point 21% of US teens choose the app as their favourite).
Instagram edges it for total penetration levels among teens, at 85% compared to 82% for Snapchat.
US teens’ preferred social media
Source: Marketing Charts
While the Snapchat demographic is typically young, and the app has long been demonstrably the preserve of Millennials and Generation Z, growth in older Snapchat users has increased in recent years.
Spiegel has previously commented that targeting older users is the best way to ensure Snapchat continues to thrive. Indeed, the redesign was seen to have had a positive effect in terms of the retention of older users. It has been said since, however, that it was a renewed focus on younger users which lead to Snap’s recovery of H1 2019.
Nonetheless, eMarketer forecasts (from 2019) show higher growth in Snapchat user numbers among older user groups than in the established core audience – though from a much lower base. We might also note that robust growth is forecasted among those aged 12-17.
Snapchat forecast user growth
Snapchat users demographics
Unlike the closer balance we see in the US, globally the Snapchat user-base skews female, who account for six out every 10 users, according to Statista.
Global Snapchat users by gender
Snapchat Originals viewing figures
Snapchat’s drive into producing original content seems to have been a success.
In 2018, Snapchat Originals series Endless Summer (a reality-series staring YouTuber Summer McKeen) reportedly drew in 28 million viewers. The series was duly commissioned for a second season beginning in 2019.
It’s not the only Snapchat Originals series to boast impressive viewing figures. Observer reports that Dead Girls was watched by 14 million people, and Deep Creek by 18 million.
In July 2019, it was announced that a range of uber celebrities, like Serena Williams and Arnold Schwarzenegger, would be partnering with Snapchat to create shows for Snapchat’s streaming offering. Will Smith announced a special lockdown show in April 2020.
Snapchat Originals series Nikita Unfiltered was watched by 20 million viewers in its launch month of March 2020. In all, over 60 Snapchat shows were watched by over 10 million viewers in Q1 2020 – up on 50 in Q4 2019.
Snapchat Lenses user stats
Advances in AR have been credited for powering (to some extent) Snapchat’s recovery of 2019.
Snapchat Lenses apply AR-powered filters to the real world being filmed through the camera. 200 million Snapchat users played with a new generation of AR Lenses within the first two weeks of their release, reported Snapchat in its Q2 2019 earnings statement (15 billion total plays were reported as April 2019, at a partner summit).
In Q2 2020, it was reported that 180 million (76%) of Snapchat users engaged with the app’s augmented reality functionality every day.
The number of Snapchat users submitting new Lenses over the quarter grew by 20% over the previous quarter, with over 500,000 Lenses created in total (a feature currently open only to US users).
In all, Q2 2019 saw more engagement with Lenses than was seen in entirety of 2018.
Other AR and AR-related features announced at the partner summit included Scan (a utility platform than can solve maths problems or generate GIFs based on the objects it scans), AR Bar (to help users discover and browse Lenses), Landmarkers (which ‘animate’ famous landmarks around the world), and Creator Profiles (self-explanatory!).
In 2018, Snap introduced Shoppable AR Lenses, which allow users to make direct purchases through the app.
Snapchat user behaviour: retail
To demonstrate the level of targeting possible through its advertising platform, Snap Inc. released a series of Snapchat user behaviour statistics pertaining to its users’ relationship with the world of retail.
One such dataset looked at Snapchat user behaviour related to ‘big box’ (i.e. large department) stores. This found that Snapchat users visited such stores twice a month on average, with 18-24 year olds the keenest shoppers during the week, and teenage users during the weekend.
Which Snapchat users shop in big box stores and when?
Before visiting these stores, it seems (broadly) Snapchat users like to fuel up by getting some food or a smoothie, while afterwards they head out to take care of themselves at the gym or the salon. They tend to supplement their shop by visiting smaller stores both before or after their shop in the big box store.
Snapchat users and big box stores: before and after
Snapchat users who shop at big box stores are marked by certain key interests. If you see a Snapchatter eating a burger and listening to rock music using high-tech headphones, they are statistically likely to be a big box store shopper.
Big box-shopping Snapchat users: other interests
Another dataset shows that Snapchat users who shop in luxury stores tend to visit such stores on Saturdays, and tend to be in the 18-24 bracket. They prefer to go towards the end of the month – something to do with payday perhaps?
Which Snapchat users shop in luxury stores and when?
Casting a little doubt on the payday theory, it seems students are prominent among luxury-shopping Snapchat users (though students may have jobs too) – with universities & colleges and libraries both featuring in the ‘before’ categories, along with the more-predictable airports.
Afterwards, these Snapchat user behaviour stats suggest that they like to hit the town: be it music venues, bars, or night clubs.
Snapchat users and luxury stores: before and after
Unsurprisingly, these users enjoy drinking wine. They are also into vegan and organic food, and running…
Luxury-shopping Snapchat users: other interests
Changing the focus to Snapchat user behaviour stats pertaining to apparel shopping, we once again find 18-24 year olds preeminent, with an impressive eight store visits per month.
Which Snapchat users shop in apparel stores and when?
Like big box store shoppers we are likely to find them eating a diverse range of cuisine before they go shopping; when they’re finished shopping for clothes we find them…doing more shopping, of course!
Snapchat users and apparel stores: before and after
Fashion-loving Snapchat users are lovers of arts & culture, yoga, and coffee – which presumably they need to power them through those epic shopping trips.
Apparel-shopping Snapchat users: other interests
Snapchat Usage Statistics
Snapchat reports that the average user spends 30 minutes using the app, opening it 30 times on average.
4 billion snaps are sent every day, announced Snapchat in its Q2 2020 earnings report. This is up on 3.5 billion a year prior. The latter figure represented a return to level of Snapchat usage first seen in Q3 2017, before a drop off in daily usage levels to 3 billion Snaps per day in Q3 2018. Prior to this we had seen levels rise from 2.5 billion snaps per day in Q3 2016 to 3 billion in Q1 2017.
Snapchat Stories are reportedly viewed 10 billion times a day. 25% of Snapchat DAUs upload stories daily to the platform. These stats, however, date to 2016 and 2017 respectively, with no more recent data available.
To put these numbers in perspective, Twitter users send about 500 million tweets a day, while on Facebook 293,000 statuses are updated, and 136,000 photos are uploaded every minute.
As a side note, Snap Inc. reported in Q2 2019 the new Android app had seen an average increase of 7% in the average number of Snaps sent daily by new users.
US Snapchat usage frequency
Figures from the Pew Research Center show that Snapchat daily usage is among the highest of any social app, with only Facebook registering a higher number of respondents who say they use the app several times per day. In all, 46% of respondents say they use the app several times daily – edging out Instagram’s 42%. This is certainly related to the faster-paced and ephemeral nature of Snapchat.
On the other hand, if we look at usage about once a day, Instagram’s 21% is in excess of those who say they use Snapchat once a day, giving the former the edge if we consider app usage once a day or more (63% to 61%).
US Snapchat usage frequency vs other social media
Source: Pew Research Center
Snapchat daily usage stats
According to Daily Beast Snapchat statistics, users send an average of 34 Snaps per day, and spend 35 minutes per day using the app. Snapchat is secretive about such usage data, and the Daily Beast figure is based on leaked confidential data, covering April-September 2017.
The lack of official figures mean that there is huge variance in the figures reported on these metrics. For instance, eMarketer reports the average time per day on Snapchat is a mere 27 minutes, though their figure cover US adults only. On the other end of the scale, Similar Web report that the average US user spends just short of 50 minutes per day using the app.
As you might expect, the younger the user, the more frequently they log in to check their Snapchat. Nearly half of 18-29 years log in daily, declining rapidly as we climb age groups.
How often do US users check Snapchat, by age?
When do users use Snapchat?
In January 2019, Snapchat published the results of a survey it had commissioned from Murphy Research. One of the questions pertained to when users moving from one place to another used popular social media apps. We need to be careful, of course, with a survey commissioned by a company – and indeed, this one seems to show Snapchat as the most or joint-most used social app in each of the listed situations.
Perhaps, then, it is most edifying to compare it against itself. ‘On-the-go’ comes out on top, in terms of when users like to use the app, chosen by 32% of users, followed closely by ‘commuting’ (29%), and more distantly by ‘travelling’ (24%). It seems, therefore, that Snapchat is best suited to those quick snatches of time, rather than longer or more habitual travel.
When do users use Snapchat vs. other popular social media: travel
In terms of what else is going on while they’re using the app, hanging out with friends is unsurprisingly on top, with 34% of Snapchat users reporting they used the app in this situation. Shopping (19%) and social events (14%) see a bit less Snapchat usage.
When do users use Snapchat vs. other popular social media: social situations
In the final category of usage – which we might sum up as distractions or passing the time – we see the first instance in the survey in which respondents elect something other than Snapchat as the most popular option.
Facebook is the most-chosen app in all three of these situations. It (42%) and Instagram (37%) are more popular with insomniacs than Snapchat (29%), it seems. Snapchat is also the second-least commonly used app at home, with only Twitter scoring lower. We might note here, however, that it still registers 66%.
Only Facebook edges out Snapchat in terms of usage while waiting, however. In terms of when Snapchat users use the app, home is the leading option (as with all other apps), followed by while waiting, and when unable to sleep coming in in last.
When do users use Snapchat vs. other popular social media: distractions
A slightly older study (from 2017) found that 80% of Snapchatters used the app while eating at a restaurant, 66% while shopping in a mall, 50% at gym, and 49% while at an airport.
What do Snapchat users use the app for?
A 2018 study conducted by the Knight Foundation, published on Engadget, revealed that 55% of students at 11 US universities used Snapchat as a news source – putting it behind only Facebook in this respect. 27% of survey respondents reported using Snapchat daily for news. A smaller side study found that this rises significantly if we look at high school students, 47% of whom use the app daily to get their news (it would be interesting to know the definition of news in this context…).
Across the wider US population, it is less prominent in this regard; 5% reported using Snapchat as a news source to the Pew Research Center.
The Snapchat/Murphy survey features a section looking at for what users used Snapchat compared to a handful of other popular apps.
The results are rather prosaic, inclined towards literal usage rather than deeper motivations – the likes of ‘talk to my friends’ and ‘play with lenses and filters’. The last is the only example in which Snapchat differs from Instagram, where users are keener to follow influencers and celebs.
It does, however, underline the importance of the AR to Snapchat’s success.
For what do users use Snapchat vs. other apps?
How does using Snapchat make users feel?
The Snapchat/Murphy study also looked at how the app made users feel in comparison with other popular social apps.
The words which come up with association with Snapchat chime nicely with its brand proposition, with users reporting feeling silly, creative, and flirtatious, among other positive words.
Naturally, as a study published by Snapchat itself must be taken with a pinch of salt, but the results are interesting – except for Facebook and Twitter, both of which seem to make users feel isolated and lonely, among other things.
YouTube and Instagram, on the other hand, fare pretty well (with the exception of the self consciousness engendered by Instagram usage), with YouTube keeping users diverted and informed, and Instagram inspired and creative.
Emotions associated with social media apps
Snapchat Revenue Statistics
Snapchat revenue came to $454 million in Q2 2020, down slightly on $463 million in Q1 2020 – though we can ascribe this to coronavirus slowdown. In these circumstances, in fact, this is a relatively healthy figure, perhaps down to the fact that Snapchat’s model means that users can still happily use it during a lockdown.
Before that, Q4 2019 crowned a strong 2019 for Snapchat, with quarterly revenue of over $0.5 billion for the first time in its history.
We might note that even over its difficult 2018, Snapchat was still logging increases in revenue.
Snapchat quarterly revenue, Q1 2015 – Q2 2020, USD millions
2019 Snapchat revenue came to $1.7 billion. This was $0.5 billion greater than Snapchat’s 2018 revenue figure of $1.2 billion – the first time Snap’s annual revenue crossed into the 10-figure mark. This represented a 43% increase on 2017 Snapchat revenue of $825 million.
As we might expect Q2 2020 saw a decline in Snapchat ARPU to $1.91 from $2.02 in Q1 2020. Again, this isn’t the worst possible outcome, equalling the the figure set in Q2 2019.
Peak Snapchat ARPU was reached in Q4 2019, at $2.58.
Snapchat ARPU, Q1 2016 – Q2 2020, USD
As tends to be the case with US apps, North America dominates Snapchat revenue. In Q2 2020, $307 million worth of Snapchat revenue came from North America, compared to $79 million from Europe and $69 million from the rest of the world.
The long-term trend is (slowly) towards greater parity. Over 2019, North American revenue accounted for 62% of total Spotify revenue, down from 66% in 2018, and 81% in 2017.
Snapchat revenue by region, USD millions
North American Snapchat ARPU stood at $3.40 in Q2 2020, compared to $1.10 for Europe and $0.89. Europe has moved back into second, after a period in 2019 when the rest of the world delivered better ARPU.
Europe’s recovery here might, however, be ascribed to the increased in new users in the rest of the world, from emerging markets, serving to weaken the ARPU figure for the rest of the world.
Snapchat ARPU by region, Q1 2016 – Q2 2020, USD
Despite the healthy flow of revenue into Snapchat, those of you who looked more closely at the charts at the top may well have noticed the considerable deficit at which Snapchat is operating.
This has been a long-running issue for the company, which pumps a huge amount of cash into R&D: $1.5 billion across 2017, $772 million in 2018, and $884 million in 2019, for example. Snapchat may be heralded for leading the way in terms of AR, but this most certainly comes at a cost.
Cost of revenue is also high, coming to nearly $0.5 billion in the first half of 2020 alone.
We can see in the below graphic, however, that we are seeing an improvement in cost of revenue as a proportion of revenue. Year-on-year we saw a 22 point improvement between Q1 2018 and Q1 2019.
The figure for Q2 2019 stands at 55%, giving us a 22 point improvement.
The right part of the graphic shows us that infrastructure by far accounts for the greatest share of Shapchat cost of revenue.
Snapchat cost of revenue, Q1 2019 – Q2 2020
Snapchat quarterly losses, however, did seem to becoming gradually smaller over the course of 2019. Total Snapchat loses over 2019 came to $1.3 billion – an improvement over 2018’s $1.3 billion. 2020’s quarterly figures of $306 and $326 million, however, have seemingly reversed this trend.
Q1 2017 stands out as an outlier, with Snapchat loss for the quarter coming to an eye-watering $2.2 billion, related to the costs of the IPO, taking total losses for the year to $3.2 billion.
Spiegel promised that 2019 will be the year when everything changed. While we saw improvements, we didn’t quite reach a point when that could have said to have come to pass. In April 2019, the Financial Times gave Snapchat three years to become profitable, before it would have to seek fresh funds…
Snapchat quarterly losses, Q1 2015 – Q2 2020, $ millions
Snapchat’s operating margin stood at -68% in Q2 2020, down on -62% in Q1 2020, and -45% in Q4 2019. In terms of EBITDA margin, the figures stand at -21% (Q2 2020), -18% (Q1 2020), and 8% (Q4 2019). The last positive figure shows some signs that Snapchat may have been at least on the right path before coronavirus changed everything…
Snapchat funding rounds
The company initially raised $485,000 in 2012, with Lightspeed Venture Partners leading the charge. This was followed by multiple rounds throughout 2013 and a substantial $485 million D series in 2014 from August Capital, Yahoo, GIC and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. In February 2015, it was reported that Snapchat was seeking to raise $500 million, taking it a valuation of $19 billion. In 2016 Snapchat raised $1.8 billion in a Series F round. On March 2, 2017 the company went public.
In November 2017, Chinese investment holding conglomerate Tencent acquired 12% stake of the company in the open market. Tencent does not have voting rights.
99% of Snapchat revenue was generated through advertising in 2018; up from 97% in 2017, and 96% in 2016, according to Snap Inc.’s annual report. The figure fell slightly to 98% in 2019.
Snapchat began to monetise its platform by introducing ‘Discover’ in 2015. Discover allows users to browse media content from partners such as CNN, Cosmopolitan and others. Advertisers can buy ads that appear in-between this partner content. The pricing for these ads has fallen dramatically, with the previous rates starting at $750,000 per day. They’re now available from as little as $50,000.
Snapchat now also allows advertisers to purchase short video ads, called Snap Ads, at a much lower price point – the click-through rate for these ads is around five times as high as those for equivalent platforms, according to Wallaroo Media. June 2018 represented a low point in Snap Inc. CPM: $2.95 per thousand impressions – compared to $4.20 on Instagram and $5.12 on the Facebook mobile app.
The second half of 2018, however, saw a gradual increase in Snapchat ad price – the first since programmatic bidding was introduced, according to Investopedia.
Sponsored lenses are now the most expensive offerings – starting from $450,000, rising to $700,000 for special occasions, such as the Super Bowl. These can get big results. Taco Bell’s sponsored lens was viewed 224 million times.
Advertisers can also purchase six second unskippable ads which appear during Snapchat Originals episodes, or ads that appear periodically during Snap Games.
The word in the industry seems to be that Snapchat’s advertising platform has significantly, offering better targeting, better tracking, and a clearer focus on its core audience of Gen Z users – all of which adds up to better sales and higher pricing.
As of Q3 2018, Snapchat reported that ad impressions were up by 278% year-on-year. Despite still losing users at this point, we can see in this evidence of a tightening up of the ad business (though naturally being served up more ads may well have contributed to declining user numbers).
At a partner summit in April 2019, Snap Inc. unveiled a host of new features, aimed to further improve Snapchat’s advertising offering. These included improved AR and dynamic scanning to allow targeted content and third-party app integration. With regard to the last point, the number of partner apps was more than doubled over H1 2019.
Snapchat US ad revenue
In 2019, eMarketer singled out US ad revenue, from 2017 and predictions going onwards to 2021. Growth in US Snapchat ad revenue registered at the ludicrously high level of 89% between 2016 and 2017 , before slowing to 21.5% the following year.
eMarketer predicts a higher level of growth for 2019, before a further slowdown over the next few years. In absolute terms, if this estimation is correct we’ll see $832 million in US ad revenue for Snapchat over 2019, rising up to $1.2 billion by 2021.
These predictions, it might be noted, were made at the same time as a prediction that we’d see a contraction in user numbers for Snapchat over the course of 2019 – so potentially tend towards to the conservative.
It also notes that Snapchat CPM fell below $10 (around $3-8) when it adopted programmatic selling, and has stayed there since.
Snapchat US ad revenues, 2017-2021
Snapchat market cap
Snapchat went public in early 2017, trading on the NYSE, and enjoyed a honeymoon period during which it was routinely valued at far higher levels than brands like American Airlines, HP, and Target. After its first day of trading in March 2017, it was valued at $30 billion (the IPO was at $24 billion). Incidentally, that’s the same amount as Facebook reportedly considered buying Snapchat in 2016.
The difficulties of 2018, however, saw Snapchat’s market cap plummet, with mid-December 2018 representing the absolute nadir, with a market cap of as little as $6.5 billion. Things have only improved since then, giving us a Snapchat market cap north of $30 billion in July 2020 – even rising to $35 billion at one point.
Snap market cap, IPO – July 2020
Various contributing factors played a part in 2018’s decline in fortunes – slower-than-expected sales (as above), a crowded market (need we mention Instagram?), the declining user base, and the departure of various high-ranking executives.
Let’s not forget the redesign, and Kylie Jenner’s tweet which knocked over $1 billion off the valuation. Jenner was the not the only celebrity who caused Snapchat to lose $1 billion in 2018. Rihanna also called out the app for hosting a poll which made light of her domestic abuse at the hands of Chris Brown.
Snap Inc. did enjoy a 45% spike in February 2018, after reporting an extremely positive Q4 in 2017, with stock price reaching a high of $21.75 – not too far off the Snapchat IPO share price of $24. This wasn’t to last, as we know, with prices dipping as low as $4.99 in December 2018, before recovering to the slightly healthier level we’e seen since. In July 2020, stocks were trading for over $23.
This confirmed a CNBC prediction that the stock price would soon bounce back. Indeed, Snapchat’s performance over 2019 saw it outstrip every single member of the S&P 500, with 183% growth in Snapchat stock price in the first half of the year.
Goldman Sachs raised its 12-month target for Snapchat stock to $18, from $13 in July 2019. Bank of America ($12 to $17) and BTIG ($15 to $20) similarly upped their estimates. Six months on, all had more or less hit the nail on the head.
Improvements in user growth through targeting the core Gen Z audience, advances in augmented reality, and an improved Android Snapchat app (always considered a poor relation to the iOS version) have contributed to this bounce back – as well as incremental improvements to the app designed to keep users coming back.
Snapchat stock price history, IPO – July 2020
Snapchat vs. Instagram Statistics
The history of Snapchat has been inextricably intertwined with the other major player in the image-based social media world: Instagram. The latter was purchased by Facebook in 2012 for $1 billion.
Getting that kind of attention from Facebook in the first place is a pretty good indication of the strength of the Instagram brand. That Facebook has has added a number of features to Instagram since then that parrot Snapchat is good indication of the strength of Snapchat’s. Snapchat features that have made it to Instagram under Facebook include Stories, direct messages, filters and more.
Unfortunately, just getting there first is not enough. Since launching in 2016, Instagram Stories has gone from strength to strength. Indeed, by mid-2017, it had more than double the number of daily active users than Snapchat as a whole.
Instagram Stories vs Snapchat total users
Leaving aside Stories for a moment, it’s clear that Snapchat is perhaps never going to be able to compete with the Facebook-owned Instagram’s total user base of 500 million.
It’s not all one-sided, though. In a comparison between the respective merits of the two apps for marketers, Hootsuite determined that in some respects Snapchat was better for marketers.
In their approximation, Instagram boasts a bigger audience, a higher rate view for Stories (28%) due to the autoplay feature, cheaper ads, and better discoverability. Snapchat, on the other hand, has better filters (and AR capability), and allows for wider sponsorship campaign reach – giving the example of Gatorade’s Super Bowl campaign.
This involved a lens that allowed users to appear to be soaking themselves in the sports drink. It was viewed 168 million times and resulted in an 8% increase in purchase intent. It also notes that 70% of posts on Instagram are simply never seen.
It seems unlikely that Instagram will be looking over its shoulder any time soon, however, but Snapchat seems to be holding its own in its own not-so-little niche.
Indeed, a Snapchat-commissioned App Annie study found that in selected key markets, Snapchat consistently boasts a healthy share of exclusive users compared to other apps. Ergo the only way to reach them is through Snap.
For instance, in the US, 38% of Snapchat users are not Instagram users.
Snapchat exclusive reach in selected markets
2018 was, on paper, a difficult year for Snapchat, which seemed to have be left behind by Instagram. What we didn’t know is that, quietly, Siegel and Snap Inc. were quietly building the platform into something more robust.
This robustness has come not a second too late, however; the app is compelled to follow the likes of Twitter into profitability if it is not going to be forced to go back to investors, cap in hand. Stock prices, however, have recovered since the desperate lows of late 2018, and user numbers are on the up once more.
On of key drivers of growth for Snapchat is its strong position in terms of augmented reality. Its Spectacles, for example, while obviously a luxury product, could well prove to be the first indication of what our digital futures may look like. We have also seen innovative features like Crowd Surf, which allows Snapchat users to stitch together videos shot from different vantage points, allowing forms of creativity that were not possible before.
Apple’s iOS 11 release marked the world’s biggest company’s entry into the augmented reality market, which was further consolidated by iOS 12. Snapchat has been alive to this, with filters and lenses available exclusively for iPhone X users. With AR seemingly becoming more and more ingrained in our lives, could this be how Snapchat completes its miraculous recovery from what seemed like the brink?