The messaging and media app updated its policies today, burying them within a major product announcement introducing new video and chat features. The new privacy guidelines outline how Snapchat will be able to use customer data to customize ads going forward.
It’s a potentially key policy change that puts into writing a course that the Los Angeles-based company has been on for months as it builds a better advertising machine. Snapchat added the wording to a clause about how it uses customer information to “personalize the services by, among other things, suggesting friends or profile information, or customizing the content we show you, including ads.”
The older version was the same, without mention of ads. Snapchat declined comment for this article, but the update indicates it will embrace better targeted ads, and it could offer brands the ability to fine-tune messages based on the intended audience.
Snapchat has been building up to such capabilities by hiring top specialists from deep within the ad tech world, including Sriram Krishnan, an executive from rival Facebook who helped build the social network’s ad ecosystem.
Snapchat has been developing ways to better understand users and the types of content they consume. For instance, content from Discover partners, publishers like BuzzFeed, Vice, IGN, Cosmo, can give some direction as to the interests of the reader.
A difficult balance
Advertisers have been asking for more ways to target against basics like age, gender and location, and Snapchat has been expanding such techniques.
“All you can target so far has been geotargeting and age targeting, but age targeting only started this year in a main way,” said Jeanne Bright, vp of social at DigitasLBi. “So if they would allow us to do better targeting, then that would increase their parity with other networks.”
Snapchat has always been at a disadvantage in ad technology because it has not been known to hoard data on every user’s every tap inside the app. CEO Evan Spiegel has expressed an aversion to advertising that comes off as too creepy, and Snapchat users expect some anonymity in an app that disappears their content.
However, in today’s announcement, Snapchat also posted a page outlining its services and addressed the potential for better targeted ads. “We don’t want to serve ads that are so custom-tailored that they feel invasive or uncomfortable. It’s a difficult balance and we may not always get it right, so we are counting on Snapchatters for feedback,” the company said.
Still, to compete in digital advertising against the likes of Google and Facebook, Snapchat has had to embrace much of the same technology that powers their ads. Advertisers demand automated, targeted ad serving to tens of millions of users at a time, and trusty reporting on their campaigns.
In October, the last time Snapchat updated its privacy policies, it did include changes to how it collects data, the type of data, and how that data could be used. That privacy update did not include ads in the types of content that could be customized to user tastes.
Discover publishers also have been interested in using the knowledge they have on readers to shape how they produce for Snapchat. For instance, some publishers have said they would like to recommend new stories and videos to readers, or show them fresh content after a reader has already gone through their channels’ offerings.
Today’s policy changes were accompanied by a product overhaul in which Snapchat introduced new video and chat features. It also launched sticker integrations that liven up the messaging side of the app.
Advertisers think stickers could be another avenue for their marketing on Snapchat, especially after the company bought Bitmoji last week. Bitmoji is a top virtual sticker app that lets people create cartoonish avatars, and it could easily slip into Snapchat’s new sticker library.
“What’s missing from the app today is an easy way for a user to insert a representation of themselves into their non-selfie snaps and stories. Bitmoji could provide that, in a customizable and sponsorable way. For example, I could add my bitmoji to a snap wearing Nikes, Ray-Bans or a Game of Thrones outfit,” said Jennifer Lum, co-founder of Adelphic, a mobile ad tech company.
That could put branded content right into the most trafficked — and most sacred — area within Snapchat, the messaging side of the app.
‘We’re out there hitting the pavement’: Ad management firms scoop up sites ahead of cookie changes
Ad management platforms such as Cafe Media and Freestar have collectively gobbled up the rights to thousands of sites' ad inventory.
Browser makers, now including Mozilla’s Firefox, are already ditching Google’s proposed cookieless ad targeting method FLoC
Google's cohort-based tracking needs browser support to work, but browsers like Brave and Microsoft Edge can easily block its functionality.
‘It’s OK if someone wants to work 3 or 4 days a week’: How female news leaders are changing media culture for women
There's still a long way to go before the media workplace is a level playing field for men and women, but female news chiefs are pushing hard to change internal cultures.
SponsoredVideo: How employer rewards and incentives changed in 2020
The nature of employer rewards programs has transformed, accelerated by the events of 2020 — a year of sweeping change. Employees shifted to digital, their preferences moved to digital wallets and they asked for new and surprising ways to use the rewards their employers delivered. In these new interviews, employer rewards experts talk about the evolving […]
Cheat Sheet: What a ‘radical’ GOP antitrust bill that would kill big tech acquisitions has in common with the Democrats’ push for reform
Bipartisan momentum behind Sen. Josh Hawley’s antitrust bill is likely to be tepid, but it could spur more dialogue on anti-competitive behavior in an tech-ruled era.
Member ExclusiveMedia Briefing: How publishers are pushing podcasts to new audiences
Podcast listening has rebounded from an initial pandemic-induced dip. But publishers still have work to do to attract more people to their shows.