Snap Pivots Its Ad Sales Strategy . . . Again
To understand Snapchat’s latest ad sales pivot, it’s helpful to know the journey they’ve been on. In late 2014 Snap began selling native immersion-style ads which eventually grew into their first-of-its-kind “lenses” ads. These products were exclusively sold to national advertisers because of the units’ takeover aspect and hefty price tag (typically $300K+).
Then in early 2017 Snap made a hard u-turn into programmatic sales when it launched a proprietary self-service advertising platform called Snapchat Partners API. Thanks to this new self-serve API, suddenly any advertiser trying to buy impressions programmatically could access Snapchat. As a result ad volume on the platform skyrocketed but CPMs went into a free fall. The net result was an increase in ad revenue but without the brand-level strategic partnerships other digital publishers have enjoyed.
In an attempt to gain back brand relationships Snapchat is overhauling its ad business again. This started with the hiring of Jeremi Gorman as the company’s new Chief Business Officer. Ms. Gorman has worked in sales leadership at other digital publishers, and most recently ran Amazon’s surging ad sales biz. Her new plan feels very much like what other publishers have done for years. This includes creating a Vertical sales teams to hyper-focus on the top brands in the biggest categories, establishing an agency relations team to create umbrella partnerships with the Holding Companies, etc..
As with any strategic overhaul, it’ll probably take 18 months to know for sure if they’ve made the right moves. At least for now Snap appears to be getting back to a brand-first approach to monetization, instead of just being stuck in the self-serve swamp.