Using Snapchat to Advertise to a Young Demographic
At this year’s Cannes Lions Festival, a convention of 6,000 of the world’s top advertising executives, young faces dominated the crowd, representing social media giants such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yahoo, and Pinterest. But the one young star making a huge splash was Evan Spiegel, the CEO of Snapchat, promoting his platform for advertising to a young demographic. In marketers’ eyes, Snapchat is especially interesting as it opens the door to an often previously unreachable audience: tweens and teens.
For those of us older than Snapchat’s typical demographic of 18 to 24, this social media monster allows users to take photos or “snaps” of themselves or others around them, modify the photo, and then send it to friends where it will be automatically deleted within 10 seconds upon the user opening it. You don’t have to be a hormone-laden teenager to figure out interesting and racy uses for an application like this. Snapchat has evolved from a handful of people sexting each other to a loyal fan base of more than 100 million users. These users send funny emoticons, doctored photos with moustaches and animal faces, and other similarly innocent images.
Snapchat now features ads, but since the social media platform doesn’t capture the age of its users, a practice Spiegel actually calls “creepy,” advertisers have to guess at the target demographics. According to stats the company has shared, 63 percent of the app’s monthly users are between the age of 13 and 24, a veritable goldmine for advertisers trying to reach the ever important tween and teen crowd.
While traditional advertising to a below-18 population has strict guidelines (think cigarette and alcohol advertising to children), a social media platform like Snapchat, that doesn’t capture the age of its users, can get around those restrictions. As a parent of a tween and a teen, I find this disturbing. But as a marketer, I find it a fascinating new world.
While Snapchat doesn’t track the age of its users, as Facebook does for example, it doesn’t take a marketing professional to know that if you’re advertising Depend undergarments, you probably won’t be effective on Snapchat, whereas Red Bull or Vineyard Vines would probably be. (And if you don’t know that Red Bull is a popular energy drink and Vineyard Vines is the clothing brand of choice for teens, you might not have a Snapchat account either.)
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