Snapchat's Imran Khan Sounds Off On Video Ads Without Sound

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Snapchat's Chief Strategy Officer Imran Khan sounded a warning shot at video ads that play with the volume off.

Snapchat's Imran Khan.
Snapchat's Imran Khan. Credit: via LinkedIn

Speaking at the DMEXCO conference in Cologne, Germany, Mr. Kahn said sound is a core part of the video ad experience. It was a clear jab at rival Facebook, which mostly shows videos on mute to users scrolling through its newsfeed.

"Basically when you're buying advertising without sound," Mr. Khan said, "You're not really buying video, you're buying moving banner."

And without sound, advertisers are paying video prices for what amounts to banner ads, Mr. Khan said.

The pointed words are a sign of Snapchat's growing confidence in the ad game, where it has forced not just Facebook, but Twitter and others, to react to its products.

Facebook recently began testing whether it can push video ads that autoplay with the sound on.

There have been studies showing how most Facebook ads play without sound because users scroll through the feed and watch them, but don't typically click on them to start the volume.

The muted ad has become something of a specialty on Facebook and advertisers have embraced a new style of video that works without sound – videos with big text overlays and more compelling visuals.

Google also touts its YouTube ads that typically play with sound as one of the benefits of its platform.

In a talk on Wednesday, Google's Sridhar Ramaswamy, senior VP-ads and commerce, said that worries about sound are not an issue for YouTube advertisers.

Mr. Khan also touted Snapchat's 150 million daily users, and said that 50 million of them are in Europe. He emphasized the word daily, which is increasingly a point of differentiation between Snapchat and Twitter, which reports 313 million monthly users.

Snapchat also revealed new targeting tools on its ads platform today that bring it closer to the tech offerings of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, by allowing advertisers to direct ads to users based on their customer e-mail lists. It's an offering that mimics Google's Customer Match and Facebook's Custom Audiences program.

Targeting and measurement have been a problem for Snapchat advertisers because the platform is still fairly new.

Mr. Khan said it found Snapchat ads lift sales for marketers at twice the rate of other ads measured by its partner Oracle Cloud. Mr. Khan added that Snapchat ads helped lift sales 92% of the time, according to Oracle Cloud.

"We've evolved significantly," Mr. Khan said.