Snapchat had what we thought was the most interesting session at Advertising Week Europe recently. Snapchat’s Vice President of Content, Nick Bell, talked about the “mysterious” platform that has seemingly skyrocketed out of nowhere into the stratosphere in the last two years.

Quick recap: Facebook offered to buy relative newcomer Snapchat in 2013 for the seemingly wildly optimistic price of $3 billion. They turned Zuckerberg down and the world collectively balked. Now, Snapchat has just been valuated at a whopping $16 billion — so who’s laughing now?

But we digress. Back to the here and now. If you think Snapchat is just for kids sending selfie after selfie… you’re way behind the curve. The Snapchat demographic both is (and increasingly isn’t) who you might think.

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First, let’s look at existing data: 

·      Snapchat has more than 8 billion video views a day

·      2/3 of users are over 18 years of age

·      Snapchat has more than 100 million active daily users

·      2/3 of users create content daily

·      Snapchat’s vertical video content has 9x more engagement over letterbox video

·      And, perhaps most compellingly: Snapchat reaches approximately 41 percent of 18-34 year olds in the US (compared to 6 percent reached by TV).

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Now, what was revealed in THIS conversation?
Bell says “We are seeing the demo stretch, with 50 percent of daily new users now over the age of 25.”  That’s huge news for brands partly because it’s pretty early for this to happen (Snapchat has only been around five years) and partly because it means Snapchat is not “just for kids” anymore (although be under no illusions there are still a lot of them).

The key takeaway here is that this new data means it’s time to target!  Bell mentioned that targeting has been a huge priority for Snapchat, and while their options are still nowhere near those of behavioral targeting Mac Daddy Facebook, they’ve expanded significantly.

Snapchat’s big moment with regards to advertising capability came with the rise of “stories” in 2013. They became so popular that Snapchat launched it’s “Discover” feature — sponsored “story” content from brands — in January 2015. And it’s working. For example, twice the amount of 18-24 year olds watched the first Presidential debate via Snapchat stories than on TV. That’s significant any way you slice it. In September 2015 came “lenses” — the addictively hilarious overlays that allow your selfies to be endlessly amusing. Gatorade jumped on this opportunity and created a custom sponsored lens for the Superbowl, and it was used a whopping 165 million times!

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Reminder: Snapchat is FUN…and they want to keep it that way

Lest we all get swept away in the possibilities for captivating audiences on the platform, Bell recommends cautious subtlety when it comes to brands being on Snapchat; “Think about how users are using the product… it’s also important for brands to understand how to ‘play’ in the product as well.  If you are having a conversation with your friends, the last thing you want is a guy with a sandwich board to push into the middle of the group and start shouting at you.  That’s really disruptive and doesn’t seem to make a huge amount of sense.  [Advertisers need to be] thinking about where the natural elements in a product to insert advertising are.”

For now, high price point is still a pretty major barrier to entry for advertisers (although things like custom geo-filters are touted as lower-cost options). We’ll be watching to see what comes next and whether that model changes so that those of us without Gatorade’s budget can give it a whirl.

FOMO about not being there? Watch the whole session here.

Note: All images courtesy of the video linked above, and the Snapchat Media Center.