Just ahead of the NewFronts, Snapchat has announced that it's entering the upscale ad market with a new product blending its automated ad platform with an upfront way to pay for ads and reserve inventory in Shows, the highest class of videos on the app.
Snapchat's “Snap Select," which allows for the buying of ads without using an auction, is similar to Google Preferred, an offering meant to ensure that brands runs only in the top YouTube shows. Facebook also has a similar premium tier of buying ads, "In-Stream Reserve," which launched this year for Watch, the social network’s video platform.
Snap’s new upfront buying, like its rivals' platforms, gives brands a fixed rate and guarantees on audience size so that media buyers can plan ad campaigns more efficiently. Digital platforms often liken this style to the way ads are bought on TV, where brands typically set aside budgets for TV programs in advance.
The way the "select" ad program works is a brand orders the number of views it would like to obtain, pays according to a set price for every thousand views (a CPM), and then runs 6-second commercials that only appear in the Shows Snapchat considers its most premium. (Shows are mobile programs produced by Snapchat and top publishing partners like Condé Nast Entertainment, Hearst, Tastemade, Group Nine Media, NBC Universal and Viacom.)
Snapchat did not disclose how it will decide what Shows get to partake in the upfront buying service, but says it will pick from among those with the largest audiences and most committed viewers. The company says it will share with advertisers which Shows are participating when the program opens later this quarter.
Most buying on the internet is done programmatically in competitive auctions, which are less predictable, especially as to where the ads run. But advertisers are increasingly concerned with brand safety issues—thanks in part to the increased scrutiny of social media videos—and are paying closer attention to placement on such platforms. For instance, in March, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter were scrambling to remove video footage of the New Zealand massacre.
Snap has always touted its relative control over its platform because most videos are private. This new way of buying comes as it invests more in professional content. At its first partner conference earlier this month, it announced 10 new original programs, a mix of scripted dramas, reality shows and news.
Last week, Snapchat announced first-quarter earnings, where it gave a glimpse into the size of its viewership on Discover, the section of the app where Shows and other varieties of media reside. Snapchat said time spent watching Shows tripled in the past year, but did not give an exact figure. It did call out some Shows like a docuseries “Endless Summer,” which reached 28 million viewers in its first season, and NBC News’ “Stay Tuned,” which reached 30 million viewers a month in 2018, it says.
Snapchat's “select” advertising program announcement comes right on the heels of the NewFronts in New York City (April 29 through May 3), which it is not attending. Last year, Snapchat participated in NewFronts West.