Behavioral targeting is coming to Snapchat


Advertisers have been flocking to Snapchat, which now has more daily users than Twitter and is increasingly seen as perhaps the biggest threat to Facebook’s dominance in social.

Snapchat reportedly told investors earlier this year that it plans to generate a billion dollars in revenue in 2017, which would represent a three to four-fold increase over its revenue projections for this year.

To achieve such an ambitious goal, Snapchat has been busy launching new ad products, like sponsored filters and an API that allows advertisers to purchase Snapchat ads through third-party ad tech partners.

But one of the biggest ad updates Snapchat has ever rolled out could be on the way, as the company’s director of revenue operations Clement Xue has reportedly revealed that Snapchat will soon give advertisers the ability to use behavioral targeting.

According to Business Insider, “It looks as though any behavioral targeting will be limited to broad categories, rather than serving ads based on very specific interactions you have made inside the app,” which would be consistent with Snapchat founder and CEO Evan Spiegel’s distaste for “creepy” ads.

Currently, Snapchat advertisers have limited targeting options which include age, gender and location. That’s much more limited than Facebook, which allows advertisers to target users based on behavior, as well as interests, connections, custom audiences and third-party partner categories.

Snapchat probably won’t be seeking parity with Facebook, at least not yet, but behavioral targeting will create new opportunities for the advertisers that are flocking to Snapchat and opening their wallets to gain access to the company’s users.

Is targeting overrated in social?

While many Snapchat advertisers will likely welcome the addition of behavioral targeting capabilities, it’s not clear that targeting is as big a deal in social as it has historically been made out to be.

ad targeting options

Targeting has been a focus of social platforms’ ad strategies since the MySpace days, but recently, one of the world’s largest advertisers, Procter & Gamble, revealed that it’s cutting back on targeted Facebook ads.

Marc Pritchard, P&G’s CMO, told the Wall Street Journal, “We targeted too much, and we went too narrow.”

Put simply, what P&G found was that by and large reach mattered more than precision, so spending more money per ad in highly targeted campaigns often doesn’t make sense.

For instance, a campaign that targeted air freshener ads to pet owners and large families didn’t address stagnating sales. But a broad campaign targeting users over the age of 18 did.

Since Snapchat has to date primarily courted large brand advertisers that can afford six and seven-figure minimums, it’s possible that new targeting features will matter less to the company’s billion-dollar revenue goal than new ad formats that help advertisers engage effectively with large swaths of its user base.

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