Why Snapchat is using a custom video game to get closer to its agency partners

The header image features an illustration with a dollar bill that has the Snapchat logo in the center.

Snapchat is looking to deepen its ties with the agency world — and it’s using a custom video game, “Snapchat Agency Adventure,” to do it.

In the past, Snapchat has used in-person roadshows to educate agencies about its advertising and marketing power. Since Covid-19 forced businesses to go remote in 2020, though, the social platform has limited its agency roadshows to seminars on Zoom or Microsoft Teams.

Yesterday, Snapchat marked its return to in-person agency roadshows, sending company representatives to Horizon Media’s Manhattan office to showcase a Snap-designed video game intended to capture the essence of what it’s like to work at an agency — and how Snapchat can be part of the process.

“The target audience of the game, for us, is anyone and everyone working at an ad agency across all disciplines, whether that’s media planning, buying, strategy, creative, et cetera,” said Nadav Geft, a manager of global agency development at Snap. “But we’re particularly focused on the day-to-day teams who are interacting with clients and putting forth recommendations on media plans and buys. Any senior agency stakeholder involvement is great, and something we’d consider a big win.”

Over the next three weeks, Snap plans to showcase the game to agencies in New York City and London, including all of the major holding companies, as well as independent agencies such as Horizon and VaynerMedia. 

At the moment, “Snapchat Agency Adventure” is accessible via web browser and includes a virtual agency office, similar to the digital office spaces built in the platform Gather, in which users can play four mini-games with titles such as “Brief Sprint” and “Deck Build.” It also includes snarky agency-inspired in-game dialogue — “I’d love to doubleclick on the flywheel strategy,” “per my last email,” and so on — as well as downloadable PDFs detailing how Snapchat’s offerings might solve the marketing challenges represented by each game.

“This level of innovation and interactiveness displayed by Snap really conveys how they would approach working with our clients at Horizon Media, so that goes a long way,” said Horizon Media svp of of advanced video and agency partnerships Alex Stone. “If they’re unique and innovative in their training, that’s how they’re going to approach working with our clients and working with the agency on those client briefs.”

“Snapchat Agency Adventure” is primarily intended for users working in the agency world, and Geft doesn’t expect regular Snapchat users to stumble across it in large numbers. According to Geft, the key purpose of the game is primarily to educate Snapchat’s agency partners about the platform in a fun and gamified way — not to frame Snapchat as a gaming platform or in-game advertising channel.

“Gaming is a massive way forward for consumers, and therefore brands and their agency partners, and I love that Snapchat is using gaming as a platform for education and training,” said Lewis Smithingham, svp of innovation at Media.Monks. “Gaming is a much better way to learn than through crazy long training videos or sifting through through boring decks.”

Fun notwithstanding, Snapchat had its business reasons for designing an agency-oriented video game, too. The platform has struggled to attract advertising dollars in 2023, lagging behind competitors such as YouTube and Instagram. By showcasing its creativity — and returning to in-person roadshows after a years-long absence — the company could be looking to change the narrative and remind brands about its considerable popularity among Gen Z.

“Snapchat Agency Adventure” is also an opportunity for Snapchat to showcase its deep understanding of the gaming audience. The game was designed internally at Snap, and also includes an amusing augmented reality lens based on the browser experience. At the moment, however, Snapchat remains less of a native gaming community hub than platforms such as YouTube and Twitch.

“TikTok has done a couple of events around gaming content on their platform and things like that. This is probably a similar level of investment, putting together a game like this, in terms of creativity and maybe even cost,” said Max Bass, director of emerging connections at Gale. “But I’d really like to see Snap deliver something product-facing for advertisers and marketers that really helps serve what brands are looking for in the gaming space right now.”

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