Insights / October 2017

Optimizing Snap Ad Creative Effectiveness

Illustration of devices.

On mobile, attention has changed. Here are some tips to create the most effective Snap Ads.

Snapchatters spend over 30 minutes a day on Snapchat, on average, but that time isn't spent on a single session. It’s spread out over 20 visits to the app, on average. This reflects a larger trend in how attention works on mobile. People use their phones in short bursts across every time and place. The best mobile apps are designed to be fast and fun to fit into these moments — and we believe the most effective ads will be too. On mobile, you just don’t have the luxury of time and attention you’ve had in the past on other platforms. But that doesn’t mean you can’t drive amazing results for your business. Just like the Snaps our community sends every day, advertisers on Snapchat need to keep their messages short, concise, and to-the-point. This allows you (or a friend) to tell a big story in seconds. In fact, we’ve found that the first two seconds of a Snap Ad drives the biggest impact on ad awareness (up to 67%!)1.

Two-thirds of ad awareness lift is achieved in the first 2-seconds.

So, how can advertisers take advantage of those first two seconds? We conducted research on which creative elements in those first two seconds contribute to success on Snapchat across attention, swipe, and brand resonance metrics. We split part of our study into two separate categories — Entertainment and Non-Entertainment — because creative elements that are relevant for one are different than the other. For example, a trailer is relevant for a movie studio (Entertainment) but not a food brand (Non-Entertainment).  Our initial findings: no matter what your goal is, creating ads that look and feel like the content it lives between has implications for success. Ads that look and feel like a natural part of the Snapchat experience — video ads that feel like Snaps a Snapchatter would create — may garner stronger results.

Anatomy of a Snap Ad: 6 Key Categories

Snapchat’s unique, full-screen experience allows Snapchatters to interact with ads in new ways without any distractions. When designing Snap Ads for maximum effectiveness, marketers should consider six main categories of creative features: Characters & Conversations, Production Value, Sound, Creative Messaging, Brand Link, and Call to Action.  

Characters & Conversations: Are characters featured within the first 2-seconds? If so, how are characters engaging in conversation?

Production Value: How many scene cuts are present in the first 2-seconds?

Brand Link: How is the brand presented in the first 2-seconds, if at all? Is the logo featured, or the brand/product name seen visually or heard audibly?

Music Features: Are there music features present in the first 2-seconds? If so, is the audio background music or a popular song?

Call to Action: Is a clear call to action introduced in the first 2-seconds? Audio or visual?

Creative Messaging: How is the advertised product being messaged? Is the message identifiable in the first 2-seconds?

Designing Memorable Snap Ads

A strong, well-designed Snap Ad gets a message across in seconds, but also leaves a memorable and lasting impression. When designing your next Snap Ad, keep these four key takeaways in mind for creative effectiveness.

Non-Entertainment

1. Production Value: When optimizing for video views or swipe ups, consider limiting the scene cuts down to 1-3 within the first 2-seconds.

2. Characters & Conversations: When optimizing for video view or swipe ups, consider designing for organic conversations with talent speaking directly to camera or conversing with another character.

3. Production Value: When optimizing for video views or ad awareness, consider testing UGC-style (user-generated content) creative elements, such as emoji features to provide native-style look and feel.2

Entertainment

1. Production Value: When optimizing for video views or swipe-ups, consider limiting yourself to one scene cut within the first 2-seconds.

2. Characters & Conversations: When optimizing for video views or swipe-ups, consider having talent speak directly to the camera or converse with another character.

3. Brand Link: When optimizing for video views, consider testing subtle cues like audio branding to communicate brand messaging while maintaining viewer attention.2

Non-Entertainment

1. Call to Action: When optimizing for swipe-ups, consider highlighting what it is you’re asking of the viewer in the first critical seconds — whether through audio or visual CTA’s. 

2. Brand Link: When optimizing for ad awareness, consider branding of any type, visual or audio, to tie the message back to your brand in the first, critical seconds.

3. Brand Link: When optimizing for swipe-ups, consider testing subtle branding cues like product close-ups and logo features.

4. Characters & Conversations: When optimizing for video views or swipe-ups, consider featuring celebrities within the first 2-seconds.2

Entertainment

1. Music Features: When optimizing for video views, consider incorporating audio that Snapchatters will recognize, such as recognizable music or popular songs.

2. Brand Link: When optimizing for swipe ups, consider testing both audio + visual cues such as including the title name or actor/director’s name in text.

3. Call to Action: When optimizing for swipe ups, consider highlighting what it is you’re asking of the viewer in the first critical seconds — whether through audio or visual CTA’s. 

4. Brand Link: When optimizing for ad awareness, consider featuring brand name  release details in the first 2-seconds.2

Non-Entertainment

1. Creative Messaging: When optimizing for swipe ups, consider promotional or how-to style messaging that teases content below.

2. Creative Messaging: When optimizing for ad awareness, consider using the product in context or features/claims about the product itself to build toward stronger breakthrough.

3. Creative Messaging: When optimizing for video views, consider using the product in context with tutorials or characters using the product as advertised to effectively message your brand or product.2

Entertainment

1. Creative Messaging: When optimizing for ad awareness, consider using the product in context or features/claims about the product itself to build toward stronger breakthrough.

2. Creative Messaging: When optimizing for video views, consider featuring film, TV, or gaming reviews on screen to build emotional reward in the first 2-seconds.2

Methodology

To get our insights, we reviewed 5,400 US-based Snap Ads from Q3 - Q4 2016. Using 3-step verification, each creative was tagged by three unique coders to ensure high levels of tagging accuracy. Codes were defined by a specific set of characteristics present within the first two seconds in order to most accurately analyze what features are associated with performance. Using a regression framework, we assessed the relative contribution of tagged creative features to a respective performance metric, controlling for demographic, delivery, and impression-specific characteristics. This framework was utilized to select creative features with a meaningful association (positive or negative) to the performance metric. Due to strong creative variation across verticals, unique creative tags were assigned to entertainment and non-entertainment ads. Distinct models were run for each industry group by performance metric in order to appropriately account for tagging variations and success metrics.

  1. Nielsen; n=78 campaigns with Snap Ads video only across H1 2017. Data shown represents average modeled proportion of lift by view duration bucket. Duration is defined by Average View Duration.
  2. Snapchat; n = 3,300 Snap Ads and n = 2,100 Snap Ads with Attachments from 2H 2016. Insights derived from the relative contribution of tagged creative features to creative performance controlling for demographic, delivery, and impression-specific characteristics using a regression framework. Performance metrics include average max screen time and swipe up odds. Millward Brown Digital; n = 448 Snap Ads from 2H 2016. Insights derived from the relative contribution of tagged creative features to creative performance controlling for demographic, delivery, and impression-specific characteristics using a regression framework. Performance metrics include ad awareness odds.