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A Beginner’s Guide To Snapchat Ads

From selfies to selling products, Snapchat has come a long way.

A Brief History of Snapchat

-In 2011, the app was launched as a simple way to send selfies to friends.

-In 2013, the 24-hour “Stories” feature was released, preceding Instagram by 3 years.

-In 2014, Snapchat launched “Geofilters”, giving brands their first opportunity for promotion.

-In 2015, “Lenses” and the “Discover” pages launched, giving brands even more ad opportunities.

-In 2017, Snapchat rebranded to Snap Inc. and went public.

-Now, in 2022, Snap Inc. boasts over 528 million users, making it the 6th most popular social media platform in the United States.

Snapchat Ads: Are They Worth It?

In short: it depends on your target audience. The largest share of Snapchat users are 18-24 years old, and only 4% of Internet users above 50 have a Snapchat account. Therefore, Snapchat Ads should only be used when a large portion of the target audience is aged 18-29.

Where Does Organic Social Tie In?

If you have a Snapchat account, you probably know that the only way of posting organically is through 24-hour stories shared with friends. So, for many years, businesses did not have a use for organic content. However, Snapchat just released “Public Profiles” for businesses, and eventually these will be mandatory for all advertisers. Public Profiles are organic profiles that include public stories, saved stories, AR lenses, and the option to integrate your Shopify store!

Snapchat Ad Formats:


Single Image/Video Ads

This format is most comparable to Instagram story ads. These automatically appear on the full screen as a user is tapping through stories or articles, and can be up to 3 minutes long. They can link to landing pages, app installs, lead forms, or phone numbers. We recommend these for both warm and cold audiences, and have found that videos under 5 seconds with text on the screen perform best!


Commercials are very similar to Single Image/Video Ads, but they cannot be skipped until 6 seconds into the video.

Story Ads

Story Ads are made up of 3-20 images or videos. Each video can be up to 15 seconds long. These appear on the Discover page and require an engaging title to get users to click on. The best way to approach these is by telling a narrative through the sequence of images/videos!

Collection Ads

Collection Ads allow you to showcase your individual products. They consist of one main image or video with 4 shoppable tiles at the bottom of the screen. If using a catalog, these ads can be dynamic, but you can also manually add product images and links. These ads work best with a conversion goal!


Branded filters are artistic overlays that users can swipe through and find when their Snapchat camera is open. These can either be uploaded or created directly in the platform. These are best for brand awareness, and our #1 tip is to make sure there’s still plenty of room on the screen to see the photo!

AR Filters

These ads create interactive experiences through augmented reality. There are two types:

-Face lenses can distort faces or turn users into icons/characters.

-World lenses allow users to place 3D objects in their space through their camera.

These perform best when animation or gamification are added!

Why We Recommend Snapchat Ads To Clients

First of all, we must address that we do not recommend them for every client. Snapchat has a very specific demographic, so unlike Facebook and Google, they are not right for every business. However, if a client has a large enough audience in the 18-29 age group, we always encourage them to try out Snapchat. The platform has great features for creating ads and split tests, and our clients have seen great ROI on it!


Want help getting started with Snapchat ads? Our team has got your back!

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