Snapchat has carved a place into the everyday lives of the most coveted group of consumers out there—Millennials. That demographic boasts approximately 150 million daily active users, 70% of which are between 13 and 34 years old.

For years, advertisers have been trying to figure out the secret to marketing to Millennials, spending 500% more on this generation than all others combined. And for the most part, their endeavors have proven unsuccessful.

Snapchat, the popular messaging and video app, is on a mission to change that. Recently, Snapchat released its latest update with new features such as Snap Ads Between Stories, Expandable Snap Ads, and an Ads API that advertisers can use to buy campaigns rather than to marginally strike deals with Snapchat.

The goal of the update is to get people to view more content from advertisers alongside user-generated content from friends.


Up until now, advertisers' marketing efforts on Snapchat have been largely unsuccessful, which have left many marketing directors scratching their heads and wondering why that is.

One reason is that many companies are still trying to market to Millennials the same way they did to older generations. However, just like every generation, Millennials have specific wants and needs that marketers need to understand to be successful in their campaigns.

Millennials are focused on connections and self-expression. Because traditional ads are one-way and primarily focused on selling something, they just don't resonate with this generation.

Some brands have grasped that concept and have successfully used other social media sites, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, to engage with this target audience. When Snapchat came along, those advertisers applied the same strategy to Snapchat as they did to other social sites. But Snapchat is not like other social media sites.

On sites like Facebook and Twitter, the goal is to create marketing messages that are shareable or that will go viral. That phenomenon doesn't apply to Snapchat at all! Snapchat was designed so people could share images, videos, and messages with specific people. The interaction isn't public. Unless you screenshot an image, there is no real social proof that the interaction even occurred.

To create successful Snapchat ads, marketers must understand that going viral isn't the ultimate goal.

Sending relevant, engaging content to your target consumer is the key to Snapchat advertising success.

Once you understand this key concept, advertising on Snapchat should come easily. However, there are a few more obstacles to look out for when you create an advertising campaign on Snapchat:

  • 3V model. 3V stands for "Vertical Video Views," which means that any photo or video you use for advertising will fill up the entire screen on a mobile device vertically. Cutting your images or video to fit this 3V format can frustrate photographers and creative designers because you are only using a third of the space
  • You have a time limit. Because you only have 10 seconds to get your message across, you must get straight to the point.
  • Skipping. Unlike television or YouTube, Snapchat users don't have to watch your ad at all. They can skip through to the next photo or video with a simple tap.
  • Expensive. Some of Snapchat's most powerful advertising features are costly. For example, a sponsored geofilter can cost around $450,000 to $750,000 per day.


So, what does work when using Snapchat to advertise to Millennials? Rather than focus on selling products or services, advertisers should focus on creating engagement and connections through their brand Snapchat account.

That can be accomplished in a variety of ways:

Offering coupon codes

Snapchat videos and images only last for 10 seconds and then for only 24 hours. Take advantage of the sense of urgency Snapchat creates and advertise coupon codes on the platform. This tried-and-true method is used by some of Snapchat's most successful advertisers, and it allows you to motivate users to buy now with a discount.

Along with increased engagement among customers, coupon codes are great because they are trackable. See how many people are responding to your Snaps by tracking how many actually use the coupon code provided.

Generating excitement

Snapchat is an excellent ad platform to use when you want to create hype about an upcoming event or new products and services. Build anticipation by sharing behind-the-scenes photos and videos of the preparation leading up to the event or product announcement. Millennials will feel more connected to your brand knowing that they have an insider's perspective around important brand news.

As a bonus, create a sponsored geofilter around the event that Snapchatters can use and share with their friends—that is the closest you will get to "going viral" on Snapchat.

Or upload your best unedited video content from the event (meaning no special effects or professional videography). That allows your content to blend in with the rest of the user-generated content.

Connecting with your customers

Only a handful of Snapchat users will take the time to hunt down their favorite brands' usernames and follow them on the platform. So, advertisers have to find their own followers and encourage those users to connect with them.

A simple way to connect with your customers is to advertise the brand's Snapchat account on other social media sites.

* * *

Advertising to Millennials on Snapchat doesn't have to be confusing. By providing behind-the-scenes looks and developing relationships with their consumers, advertisers will be seeing Millennials follow brands that reflect them and become loyal customers.

Enter your email address to continue reading

What Millennials Will Hate About Your Snapchat Ad

Don't's free!

Already a member? Sign in now.

Sign in with your preferred account, below.

Did you like this article?
Know someone who would enjoy it too? Share with your friends, free of charge, no sign up required! Simply share this link, and they will get instant access…
  • Copy Link

  • Email

  • Twitter

  • Facebook

  • Pinterest

  • Linkedin


image of Denise Chang

Denise Chang is a paid social specialist at Power Digital Marketing, an online marketing agency.

LinkedIn: Denise Chang