What Are Snapchat Ads and How to Use Them to Increase App Downloads

Partner Post - Tactical Digital Marketing Agency

Posted: April 3, 2018

In 2016, Snapchat overtook Instagram as the social media platform people report using most, second only to Facebook. In other words, it’s a very effective tool for marketers. This is especially true if you’re targeting Millennials: Snapchat’s audience skews young, with 18 to 24-year-olds making up about 37% of its users.

If you’re trying to get people, especially Millennials, to download your app, Snapchat ads can help. Before you start planning one, however, it’s important to understand the different types of Snapchat ads and how to optimize them for driving app installs.

The Types of Snapchat Ads

Snap Ads

These ads are very similar to a typical Snapchat post. They’re vertical videos that can be as long as 10 seconds, with the option to swipe for more content. The major difference between Snap Ads and user-to-user Snapchats is the tag, which labels the content as an ad.

On average, a static Snap Ad costs about two cents per view. More dynamic, engaging ads tend to be double the price.

Sponsored Geofilters

This option allows you to upload your own location-specific Geofilters for users to interact with and use in their own snaps. They’re more engaging than a traditional Snap Ad, but they’re also more expensive: often they start from $5000 per hour that they’re offered on the platform.

Thus, they’re more popular with major brands that already have an established brand identity. That being said, Snapchat claims these types of ads reach anywhere between 40% to 60% of users on a daily basis so they’re an extremely effective option for businesses of all sizes.

Sponsored Lenses

Sponsored lenses add another degree of entertainment to the user experience by letting them modify their own images with your branded content.

Given that these Snapchat ads are both the most labor-intensive and effective, this results in high costs. You also need to have someone on your team who can develop a quality lens for Snapchat or outsource creation to a digital branding agency.

Case Studies

The following examples show how popular brands have used Snapchat as a marketing tool. They demonstrate the kinds of best practices you should adhere to for maximum ROI.


Source: Digiday

Gatorade showed off its marketing savvy by targeting the demographic that uses Snapchat the most: Millennials. By creating an 8-bit video game that allowed users to play as Serena Williams, the company offered an interactive experience that tapped into a sense of nostalgia for its audience.

Snapchat marketing requires knowing your audience. Gatorade proved they do.

Taco Bell

Source: Wallaroomedia

For Cinco de Mayo, Taco Bell offered Snapchat users a filter that transformed their faces into half-human, half-taco hybrids.

Yes, the results were strange, but that was the point. The brand wisely recognized that users would want to share the comedic results with their friends. The strategy worked; the average cost-per-view was 0.3 cents. That’s a massive ROI for a fairly simple marketing campaign.

Cedar Point

Source: Cedar Point

The Cedar Point amusement park marketing team understood that the more time people spend looking at your Snapchat story, the greater your overall brand awareness will be.

They ran a simple campaign in which “ghosts” would briefly appear in their videos. Users were tasked with taking screenshots of the ghosts. The first five who were successful would win coupons for the park. The company offered an incentive, and designed a competition that forced those participating in it to focus on and engage with their content.

Why Snapchat Ads Works for Your App

Although the examples above aren’t apps, they demonstrate a key element of successful Snapchat marketing: Snapchat users engage with the content they consume. More importantly, they tend to share it. That’s why many people recommend using Snapchat to alert Millennials to the existence of a new app.

You need to spread brand awareness in cost-effective ways. While a large-scale Snapchat ad campaign may be expensive at first, if it’s successful the ROI will be worth the initial cost. The following tips will help you maximize that ROI as you drive more app downloads.

Keep Ads  Short

The initial video portion of a Snap Ad is usually limited to 10 seconds. After this point, users can swipe for more.

You don’t need to take advantage of that feature, though. Snapchat users report using the app to seek out and consume shorter content. If you can get the point of your app and the value-prop out there in 10 seconds, that’s all you need.

Keep it Vertical

If you’re not familiar with Snapchat, you may be tempted to film video ads in the traditional horizontal format. Remember to resist this urge.

Horizontal screens may feel natural to us, but Snapchat users generally check the app with their phones in a vertical position. In order to optimize your ad for app installs, make sure to format it in a way that encourages users to watch and engage with it.

Track User Activity

Your main goal with a Snapchat ad may be to get users to download your app, but once they do, you shouldn’t stop tracking their behavior. Establish ways of tracking in-app purchases or other behaviors once users have downloaded the app. This will give you an even better understanding of your ROI.

Create Shareable Content

Offering users something funny or entertaining makes them more likely to share it. You don’t have to take your campaign seriously to successfully boost its “shareability.” In fact, you may be better off taking a light-hearted approach.

Don’t Neglect Your Store Page

If a user is impressed with your ad, they’ll click your provided link, which will likely direct them to your app’s store page for download. However, they still need to make the decision to download it. If your store page looks unengaging or unprofessional, they’re not going to take that crucial next step.

Use engaging screenshots, concise descriptions, and compelling copy to get people to pull the trigger and download your app once they arrive on its page from your Snapchat ad.

Snapchat marketing gives you the chance to boost brand awareness and app downloads among a highly motivated and lucrative audience. Follow the above advice to take full advantage of the opportunity this platform has to offer.

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