There certainly isn’t a shortage of ways marketers can spend their paid social media budgets, and the latest ad units on the scene come from relatively new social media platforms: Snapchat and Instagram.
Snapchat has launched ads that appear within Snapchat Stories between photos and videos shared by users. The ads require users to engage with them by tapping them, holding their fingers on the screen and viewing the content. The ads have already been used to promote Universal Pictures’ Ouija movie, which included an animated GIF under the ‘Sponsored’ label within Snapchat.
Then there’s Instagram, which rolled out video ads that display within users’ feeds.
Both platforms' new units have something in common: targeting is rudimentary at best. Advertisers on Instagram can target by age, gender and country. Snapchat ads, on the other hand, aren’t targeted at all, except of course to Snapchat users, which tend to be young.
Ignoring the Social Media Marketer’s Dilemma
If there is a single critique for social media marketing that gets cited time and time again, it’s that ROI is difficult to measure. Whether you believe this is true or not, these new ad offerings certainly don’t help.
They’re untargeted, which means advertisers have little control over who sees them, and many users are exposed to content that just isn’t relevant to them. Our goal as marketers should be telling the right story to the right people. Today, there are simply too many other ways to tell a story to the right people to opt for an option that doesn’t.
Not for Every Brand
These units aren’t for every brand, but they are for some, especially those working to reach as many people as possible and those with time, money and resources to take a creative leap and create content custom to the platform. Snapchat and Instagram aren’t environments to just post a commercial.
However, for most brands, what is being offered just isn’t what they need, especially if they’re working with limited time, money and resources (as most are) and, of course, need solid analytics to prove success.
Snapchat and Instagram are just getting started, and some elements to make truly compelling ad products are there. But in an era where Facebook, Twitter and other platforms offer granular targeting and detailed analytics, it may be best to avoid the hype with these new units and invest dollars where understanding performance and the audience is more readily accessible.