Snapchat Ads Are Probably Cooler Than Facebook’s, But Still Not Cool

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Prepare for ads on Snapchat, bruh!

The company announced on Friday that users will start receiving ads from brands under the Recent Updates section of the app. This is the same portion of the Snapchat inbox where you find Stories, a product that threads together multiple snaps (both video or photo) into one, long snap.

The ads are opt-in, in that you don’t actually have to watch them if you don’t want to. (Brands will love it!) After viewing, or within 24 hours, they disappear from your inbox. However, users have no control over whether or not they actually receive the ads. They’re coming, whether you like it or not.

Either, it’s a pretty chill way to approach advertising, and it focuses predominantly on the happiness of the user, not the brand. It’s hard to say the same for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, which all force users to look at ads that are interstitially woven into the main social experience.

Still, an ad is an ad is an ad. And ads are never actually cool.

Snapchat first started experimenting with this idea with the launch of Our Stories, a collaborative Snapchat timeline centered around specific events. The first Our Stories event was Electronic Daisy Carnival.

Though Stories is a growing product, Our Stories have limited visibility because they are so targeted around a certain date, location, and group of people.

Advertising within regular Stories, as opposed to location-based advertising, makes far more sense in terms of reach.

But how powerful can these ads be? If users have complete control over whether or not they view these ads, brands run the risk of spending money on a platform where the majority of users aren’t even seeing their content.

On the other hand, users are getting a pretty good deal. Of all the social networks in the past decade, this may be one of the only ones to employ advertising that isn’t forced onto the eyes of users.

It’s unclear how Snapchat will actually monetize these ads — they could charge for every user that receives a snapvertisement, with a bonus for every time a snapad is opened, or they could simply charge for every viewed ad on the platform.

Within the announcement, Snapchat mentioned (Clueless-style) that it would be “totally rude” to put ads in your personal communication, like IMs or Snaps, and they are exactly right. They also explained why they’re introducing ads.

“We need to make money. Advertising allows us to support our service while delivering neat content to Snapchatters. We promise that we’ll use the money we make to continue to surprise the Snapchat community with more terrific products – that’s what we love to do!”

(I love the bit about promising to use the money to power Snapchat, considering founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy each skimmed $10 million off of the top of their $80 million Series B for themselves. We promise we’ll use the money on the product this time, guys.)

You can read the full blog post here:

This weekend we’re placing an advertisement in “Recent Updates” for Snapchatters in the United States. It’s the first time we’ve done anything like this because it’s the first time we’ve been paid to put content in that space. It’s going to feel a little weird at first, but we’re taking the plunge.

The best advertisements tell you more about stuff that actually interests you. Some companies spend a lot of time and collect a lot of data about you to figure that out. The product we’re releasing today is a lot simpler. An advertisement will appear in your Recent Updates from time to time, and you can choose if you want to watch it. No biggie. It goes away after you view it or within 24 hours, just like Stories.

We won’t put advertisements in your personal communication – things like Snaps or Chats. That would be totally rude. We want to see if we can deliver an experience that’s fun and informative, the way ads used to be, before they got creepy and targeted. It’s nice when all of the brilliant creative minds out there get our attention with terrific content.

Understandably, a lot of folks want to know why we’re introducing advertisements to our service. The answer is probably unsurprising – we need to make money. Advertising allows us to support our service while delivering neat content to Snapchatters. We promise that we’ll use the money we make to continue to surprise the Snapchat community with more terrific products – that’s what we love to do!

If you’re into it, TechCrunch’s Josh Constine and I got into a bit of a debate when we first heard the news, and our co-editor Alexia Tsotsis decided to record it.

You can view it here: