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Snapchat's First Ad Frightens
By: Jennifer Graber
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The proliferation of sponsored ads and messages within digital and social media is no longer a surprise. What is a surprise is when one comes across something in digital and social media that does not contain an ad of some sort. Ads and messages are literally everywhere, and can be quite sneaky. Many fit seamlessly into our news feeds and displays. The "sponsored" text is sometimes so small one does not even notice for some time. After all, how many of us have squinted our eyes and said "I do not remember liking or following this page"? But there those ads are, just drawing us in. And another social media app has jumped on the bandwagon this week.
Snapchat, the photo-sharing app, featured its very first sponsored ad this past Saturday. The ad was a 20-second movie clip for Ouija. The chilling clip showed up in Snapchat users’ feeds, much like a typical snap would. Users could view the ad as many times as they wished within a single use of the app, unlike a typical snap. After users closed out of the app the Ouija clip disappeared. If the ad was not viewed it would disappear within 24 hours. Why someone would want to watch that sort of clip is beyond me. Have we not learned to mess with a Ouija board yet? But I digress.
The user response to the sponsored ad has been mixed so far. Some users have responded with annoyance, while others have responded with fright (which would be my response). But Snapchat is not too concerned. Snapchat, ahead of the ad’s release, wrote a blog post on its website. The post was to let everyone know that the ad was on its way. Snapchat also explained that, as a company, it wanted to “deliver an experience that’s fun and informative, the way ads used to be, before they got creepy and targeted.” Someone needs to let them know that a scary movie ad is not the way to get away from being creepy. But ultimately Snapchat feels as if it is no big deal if users choose to view the ad or not.
The casual attitude of Snapchat regarding the Ouija ad is somewhat unexpected. The company blatantly admitted that it began to sell these sponsored ads because it needed to make money. One would imagine that the photo-sharing app would wish for the ad to be successful. Why? Because with success comes more potential customers. If the platform does not do well, then other companies will be less willing to spend their advertising dollars on Snapchat. Success is crucial for Snapchat, since the Ouija clip is its first ad. This is new territory for it. And while movies are safe choices for unexplored mediums there is still pressure for Snapchat to perform well. What do you think? Do you believe Snapchat will see success in its take/viewpoint on ads?

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About the Author
Jennifer Graber is a Business Development Manager and marketing enthusiast. Her specific interests include branding, consumer behavior, development, integrated marketing communications, and new & social media.
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