Snapchat's new ad format invites people to click to view more from brands

Snapchat has developed its first call-to-action style ad that require users to swipe up to view a full trailer for “Call of Duty: Black Ops 3.” The ad for the Activision game ran Tuesday on the Daily Mail’s channel in the Discover section of the app, where publishers like Cosmo, ESPN, IGN and BuzzFeed run their own channels.

“Users will be able to swipe up from a branded snap to view a long-form video and learn more,” a source familiar with the new ad said. “This interaction will be very similar to the current long-form video experience on Discover.”

Discover ads appear between the pieces of content posted by the publishers and, typically, just start playing. Now, there is this option for users to swipe up to reveal more from the advertiser.

The “Call of Duty” trailer was shot in landscape mode, wide-screen, so the promotion did not take advantage of Snapchat’s vertical video perspective, which the platform has pushed as a way for marketers to use mobile devices in a way that feels more natural. Still, clocking in at nearly two minutes, “Call of Duty” was a pre-existing trailer that had already run on other platforms, such as YouTube:

The advertiser pays for the ad based on the number of views the cover clip gets, and the swipe up is essentially a freebie for the marketer, the source said. It’s unclear whether this pricing model will last past the experimental phase. Snapchat declined to comment for this story.

The ad represents the first direct-response marketing available on the platform. It’s a deeper kind of engagement that some advertisers have been asking from Snapchat, and it could signal the start of more actions beyond just viewing extra video.

“We would love to have the ability in an ad to swipe up to see longer-form content,” said one Snapchat advertiser speaking on the condition of anonymity. “It’s something we’ve talked about, where you see a 10-second ad but then can watch a full trailer.”

It’s an important step because advertisers are concerned with viewability, though platforms have yet to come up with an industry-wide definition for what constitutes a view. Snapchat counts as a view any vertical ad that loads, even if a user skips over it quickly.

A video view that requires an action like the interactive Snapchat ad is what marketers consider a lean-in experience. Studies show that users are more likely to view an entire video if they actually click on it to consume.

On two-minute videos, almost 30 percent of viewers watch to the end if they first had to click it to get it started, because it shows initial interest in the subject matter, according to a recent report from Kinetic Social. Autoplay videos of that length get a less than a 10 percent completion rate.