- Snapchat this week began showing six-second ads that viewers can't skip by tapping on their smartphone screens, Ad Age reported. The forced-view ads appear like commercials in the middle of Discover shows produced by media companies like NBCUniversal, Disney and MTV-owner Viacom.
- Samsung, Snapple, STX Entertainment, 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. are among the first brands to air non-skippable spots. Currently, the ads can't be linked to longer videos or e-commerce experiences like Snapchat's typical video ad units. They also don't appear when viewing friends' posts.
- "Deadpool 2" is one of the first unskippable ads. The partnership between 20th Century Fox and Snapchat includes an augmented reality (AR) lens featuring the comic-book antihero. Snapchat's World Lens has a "shoppable AR" button that lets users buy tickets for nearby showings of the movie directly in the image-messaging app, according to Mobile Marketing magazine.
Snapchat's resistance to forcing users to sit through ads is no more. But a year after the company went public, the messaging service now faces intense pressure to please shareholders and advertisers who are getting more strategic about the best platforms in which to invest their money.
When video ads first debuted on Snapchat in 2014, people could immediately skip it with a quick tap. That behavior, however, has led to average view times of less than two seconds on video ads, which sources told Ad Age was unappealing, causing few advertisers to want to buy placements on the app. This has led Snapchat to lower-than-anticipated revenues.
The six-second ad format in general may end up becoming the most versatile commercial unit as it's adopted by other platforms ranging from TV to social media to mobile apps. The super-short ads have appeared in televised media, such as on networks like Fox and AMC, who are trying to appeal to audiences that feel inundated with commercials. TV has been dominated by a choice of 15-, 30- and 60-second spots, but Fox Sports last year introduced six-second ads for live sporting events including NFL games as a new revenue stream with a low risk of losing too many viewers annoyed by the short commercials.
Snapchat isn't alone in shifting toward more advertiser-friendly policies. Facebook last month expanded the number of spots on the social network that show pre-roll video ads, which appear before the user's desired content, even though founder Mark Zuckerberg had banned them for years. Google's YouTube has several kinds of ad formats of varying lengths and guaranteed viewership. The video-sharing site last month introduced TruView for Reach ads that can be skipped after five seconds and purchased on a CPM basis for maximum visibility, per Variety. YouTube also has six-second non-skippable "bumper" ads that air before selected videos.