Snapchat has wasted little time in heading out to U.K. agencies, but rather than calling on the established usual suspects, it’s flirting with smaller independent shops. One of its first calls has been to four-person social agency, Harkable.
“We seem to be one of the first agencies they visited,” said Will Francis, co-founder of the agency. “It’s like we’ve been a bit of a test run for them.” Agencies like DigitasLBi, Poke, We Are Social and Holler have been in conversation with the platform but are still waiting for visits. Snapchat opened the doors to its U.K. office a few weeks ago.
Snapchat’s U.K. agency courtship is playing out on a smaller scale than its latest lunch-and-learn session in the U.S. for agency MRY, with no ghost-logo erasers to be seen. Instead, recently named Snapchat hire Camilla Schilbach and one other rep visited Harkable to discuss its latest products and brand opportunities, like video ads within Live Stories and brand-sponsored Lenses.
“Every agency they go to will be asking, ‘How do we report value back to clients,’” said Francis, who started Harkable with other ex-Myspace employees Ashley Ford and Chris Harris in 2011. “From what they said, they are not implementing detailed analytics tools any time soon, not in the way that Facebook and Twitter have had to, which built ad platforms and then had to build analytics around them to support it.”
Snapchat, which did not respond to requests for a comment, knows it will have to balance the tension between keeping the platform clean for its users, and appeasing advertisers and investors who are keen for more analytics to justify their spend.
“It is being protective about the purity of its offering, and the fact that it’s removed from the likes and metrics that other platforms had to build in to measure engagement,” said Francis. “The strength in Snapchat is its lack of quantifiable measures, you aren’t sitting there waiting to be validated by how many likes you had. The lack of engagement metrics is what makes it valuable for users.”
The company is popular with advertisers at the moment. Its lack of reporting on metrics is not under much scrutiny in the U.K. — for now — something that will likely change when more brands put it on their media plan in 2016. The company is valued at $16 billion dollars and has raised $1.5 billion since it began. Venture capital database CB Insights reports that it was the second-most-viewed company in October, behind only Uber.
The company is on track to make $100 million in revenue this year, according to reports, but it will be splitting that ad revenue with its media partners in its Discover platform: publishers like Sky, National Geographic and Refinery29.
Snapchat continues to bolster its U.K. team on the ground. Last week, Twitter’s head of brand strategy, Will Scougal, announced he was leaving to fill the role of Snapchat’s U.K. head of creative strategy. Other recent hires include BuzzFeed’s former director of brand partnerships for Europe, Jonathan Davies, and Tariq Slim, Twitter’s former head of telco and tech for the U.K. The role of U.K. chief executive is also expected to be named in the coming weeks.