Snap is searching for a head of brand integration, who would be responsible for working with Snapchat’s content team and advertisers to insert brands into shows on Snapchat Discover.
According to a description of the role obtained by Digiday, the head of brand integration, which would be a new position at Snap, will be based in either New York or Los Angeles and will “drive brand integration and go-to-market strategy for Snapchat content.” Responsibilities will include working with Snapchat’s content team to identify opportunities for brand integrations, informing Snap’s ad sales team of said opportunities and generally bringing more brand and agency partners into the fold.
In the listing, Snap said it’s looking for a sales executive with at least 12 years of experience with branded integrations in TV, film or digital media, which aligns with the company’s growing entertainment ambitions.
Sources said this role would primarily oversee brand integrations inside Snapchat shows, which air alongside publisher content and live stories on Snapchat Discover.
Snap did not respond to a request for a comment.
Multiple ad buyers said the role is a signal to brands that Snap is easing up on its restrictions on branded content. Earlier this summer, Ad Age reported that Snap had started discussing the possibility of brand placements inside its shows.
Historically, Snap has tried to maintain a strict distinction between editorial and branded content on Snapchat. Its preference was for brands to buy into Snap through products such as Snap Ads, geofilters and lenses. With this new role, Snap is saying it’s more willing to invite brands into one of its premium content offerings: Snapchat shows.
“It’s a sea change, philosophically, for them,” said Noah Mallin, head of content for MEC. “When they first went to market, one of the things they were clear about was the bright line between what happens organically and what happens from an ad perspective. By adding brand integrations, which is a familiar product for marketers, it also gives them the opening to talk about their whole suite of products — ‘If you’re doing integrations, you should also look at Snap Ads and filters.’”
Since Snap embarked on its shows initiative last year, the company has rolled out more than 22 short-form shows from major media partners such as NBC, ESPN, A&E and Viacom. Snap has previously said it plans to increase the number of shows it airs every day from one earlier this summer to three per day by the end of the year.
Snap’s search for a brand integration specialist comes as the company struggles to grow ad revenue. In the second quarter, Snap made $182 million, which fell short of Wall Street’s expectations. Under revenue pressure, Snap launched a self-serve ad service earlier this year to bring more advertisers to Snapchat and, more recently, started to verify Snapchat stars, who for a long time have felt ignored by the company.
“Brand integrations would benefit Snap in two ways: It would help drive view and brand exposure metrics, and it would give them another item to monetize and drive revenue,” said one ad buyer, speaking anonymously. “Shows are supposedly doing well for them, so they can strike while the iron is hot.”
Snapchat’s shows initiative has been one of the sole bright spots for the company. Shows such as E! News’ “The Rundown,” A+E Networks’ “Second Chance” and Vertical Networks’ “Phone Swap” are pulling in as many as 10 million unique viewers (or more) per episode.
That said, even with the initial success of Snapchat shows, some ad buyers have expressed skepticism about the product — citing expensive prices as high as $300,000 for a mid-roll slot as one reason why.
Four media buyers approached by Digiday said Snap has not contacted them about brand-integration opportunities, with some not knowing Snap is looking to hire an executive to lead the effort. But such a role does benefit Snap, giving marketers a single person to go to for any discussion related to brand integrations.
“A struggle is often figuring out who the point person is for stuff like this,” said a second ad buyer, speaking anonymously. “Brand integrations would definitely be good for Snapchat. It’s a smart, competitive move.”
While Snap remains committed to working with advertisers inside its premium sections — instead of helping them build promoted accounts — brand integrations are a natural extension for a company that has invested in creating more professionally produced, TV-like programming.
“If their shows continue to do well, integrations are a natural next step,” Mallin said.
Shareen Pathak contributed reporting