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InfoQ Homepage News Advertising in a Snap: How Snapchat’s New APIs Are Increasing Their Ad Presence

Advertising in a Snap: How Snapchat’s New APIs Are Increasing Their Ad Presence

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Snapchat has released key new self-service features into its advertising API. These updates include the ability for companies to purchase ads in a self-service capacity, as well as take advantage of advanced ad targeting.

These updates bring Snapchat up to speed with competitors like Facebook, who have evolved self-service advertising APIs that additionally communicate with A/B testing software (software that allows companies to test several different scenarios against a user base to see which ones are most effective) and other related tooling to help companies craft the perfect ad programmatically.

Programatic advertising has been on a rapid rise recently. According to eMarketer, in 2016 73% of all digital advertising utilized programatic advertising with an estimated 82% of all digital media utilizing it by 2018. Snapchat is no exception to these statistics. Its new API allows potential advertisers to automate taking out and customizing ads. Instead of putting in an order via calling Snapchat's advertising network or other means, a company's developers can simply hit an endpoint to keep all ad creation efficient and in-house.

Snapchat's new API allows ad consumers to not only create and manage their ads programmatically, but also provides several useful ad targeting features as well as an integrated A/B testing platform. Snapchat's API targeting features include the ability to match Snapchat's customer base to an individual company's, basic user-information targeting, such as by device, location, gender, etc., and interest-based targeting and modeling. In addition, Snapchat is providing an abundance of web-based dashboards to provide some user-friendly tooling for consumers to interact with their Snapchat ad data findings.

Several large brands have already started using the new Snapchat API such as McDonald's and Gatorade. Nordstrom spokeswoman Tara Darrow recently said in a statement, "We've been excited by how our customers have responded to the Ivy Park content we launched through Snap Ads API content so far, and we're looking forward to connecting with them through new versions in the future. " In response to the API customer demand, Snapchat is looking to add even more features to their API in the near future, such as ad re-targeting, a technique that allows advertisers to use cookies that track where a user has been online in their browser session to learn about their user's interests and thus provide more targeted and relevant advertising.

However, despite all this progress in the ad tech space by Snapchat via their new API additions, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel has cautioned that this new ad work requires a light touch so as not to freak out and alienate consumers, "I got an ad this morning for something I was thinking about buying yesterday...and it's really annoying. We care about not being creepy. That's something that's really important to us." While target ads going from useful to "creepy" is subjective, Spiegel brings up an important point in the danger of allowing platform advertising to be entirely self-service. There is no guarantee that a potential client will share the same messaging values as the ad host. A given client may favor aggressive, persistent ads that include too telling information about users which might affect the image of Snapchat negatively just as much as that of the client. It's important that with these new self-service capabilities in ad-tech, APIs come fine granularity of control so the messaging of ad buys is in line with that of the ad host. Snapchat has been one of the few companies to acknowledge the increased invasiveness of programmatic advertising so they may yet be one of the leaders in developing ad tech tooling that still protect consumers and their privacy in this space.

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