Snapchat, the image-messaging app with 178 million users, introduced “audience filters” that let brands target individuals based on more detailed data such as personal interests, time of day, age, gender and other technical criteria, Advertising Age reported. That means filter campaigns can reach individuals regardless of their location, which is the main selling point for geofilters.
Quaker Oats, owned by PepsiCo, is one of the first brands to test audience-based filters, the digital overlays that people use to decorate photos and videos. The cereal company worked with VaynerMedia, a platform partner with Snapchat, on a campaign that targeted mothers and working professionals. Quaker Oats split the campaign into day and night, adjusting the message for time of day.
Audience filters now have the same targeting tools as Snapchat's video ads. Advertisers can buy them in auctions on the company’s self-serve Ad Manager, which was updated to make overseeing campaigns easier, according to a blog post.
Snapchat recognizes the power of its filters to engage users with a fun way to embellish the pictures they send to friends or post to Snapchat Stories, where they linger for 24 hours. The popularity of filters – 3 billion of them are viewed each day – led Facebook and its Instagram app to copy the feature. Snapchat also recognizes the importance of filters to its sales growth, especially as more brands see them as an appealing way to engage with the app’s users who are less likely to watch TV than older demographic groups.
Evan Spiegel, the founder and CEO of Snapchat parent company Snap, emphasized the importance of filters in last week’s 3Q earnings call with investors. He said the company has tested a Lens Studio with a small group of advertising and creative partners, with the idea of rolling out the tool to a mass audience. He said users in the past two years have created more than 5 million geofilters, which users can create for almost any occasion such as weddings, birthday parties and bar mitzvahs.
But geofilters have their own limitations in grouping users by location. Snapchat’s audience filters let advertisers target audiences by behavioral characteristics that make media buys more efficient. That’s especially true when Snapchatters share filters with friends, multiplying their marketing power as digital word-of-mouth ads.
Still, brands and advertisers have been frustrated with the slow progress of Snapchat’s offerings and its lackluster user growth. Snapchat will seek to address marketer's challenges with using the platform via an online tutorial and has been adding a number of new features for advertisers, including context cards for sponsored lenses and filters as well as opening up pixel tracking. If the company can focus on improving the experience for advertisers and users (Snap is going to revamp its app to make it less confusing) and stop wasting money on projects destined for the gadget graveyard (such as its money-losing Spectacles hardware), it may be able to grow its audience faster and make a profit more quickly.