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.
Why businesses helping employees get abortions could face legal minefield
With Roe being tossed, employers will now want to revisit their policies on travel and reimbursement for abortions, family planning consultations and healthcare coverage, warn lawyers.
Bustle’s Charlotte Owen is on a mission to turn around Elite Daily
Bustle and Elite Daily's editor-in-chief talks about the unique interviewing approach she's teaching her teams and how they're approaching TikTok without competing for views.
Digiday DealBook: Walmart’s new advertisement deals, Twitch’s change to streamer revenue, Equal Entertainment Acquiring Pride Media, and more
Walmart's new advertisement deals, Twitch's change to streamer revenue, Equal Entertainment Acquiring Pride Media, and more in this week's Digiday DealBook.
SponsoredFor brands, first-party data is unlocking the cookieless ecosystem
Bill Masterson, president, Publishers Clearing House Media A dominant factor guiding the industry has been that cookies and mobile app IDs are vanishing and will be replaced by some mixture of new and emergent identity solutions. As a result, the market is alive with new and exciting alternatives to replace the third-party browser cookie and […]
Media ERGs foster community among hybrid workforces
Managers at media firms are intent on fostering company culture and connection among their hybrid employees. ERGs are proving to be a valuable channel for achieving those goals.
Member ExclusiveMedia Buying Briefing: From Cannes Lions, wrestling with measurement, fraud and the ‘multiverse’
Ask 10 media buyers their most important issues at Cannes Lions, you’ll get 11 different answers. The one consistent theme expressed: happiness at being able to get together again in person to share ideas, visions, deals and frustrations.