The still unprofitable social media and messaging company Snap was always reluctant to force its users to interact with ads, until recently. Snapchat has announced plans for testing ads that users that cannot skip. Sources reveal that the ads will be part of their shows that very much resemble those on TV.
A spokesperson from Snap confirmed the news and stated that the ad format goes by the name ‘Commercials.’ The commercials will run in some Snapchat shows only. None will feature on users’ personal stories or the magazine-style editions. The test is scheduled to kick off on May 15.
Undeniably, the experience will be new for the company as it strays from their tradition. However, the app has had some tough times as a public entity; it has struggled to increase the number of users and missed growth expectations. It follows that it would explore advertising as a source of revenue.
From the agency and production side, people are accustomed to watching ads to be able to see free shows. Yet, the experience would still be new to the platform. Whether or not people embrace it will depend on the content of the ads and their ability to hold the users’ attention.
‘Snapchat knows that people will need a while to get used to the ads,’ commented one source. ‘Yet, most of the people on the platform are used to watching ads in exchange for content.’
It is noteworthy that Snapchat is limiting the shows that get involved in the test. The ones that will be featured are mostly the ones Snapchat has always preferred. They typically run for a maximum of five minutes and are from established entertainment and TV companies such as Viacom, Turner and NBCUniversal. In short, the ads will feature in the kind content that users already see ads in.
Snapchat has had difficulties getting their audience to watch ads. According to a study by Fluent last year, 69% of their respondents, by default, click the ‘skip ad’ option. The number is even higher for Americans aged between 18 and 24 years, and these are the people most found on Snapchat. Forcing this audience to watch ads could be a turn off which would then reflect poorly on the producers and advertisers of the shows.
The test’s timing coincides with the blowback the company is receiving from recent redesign updates that separated media, brand and users’ friends content. Apparently, the company is considering canceling that redesign.
There is no doubt that the unskippable ads test would surpass Snap’s thinking at the beginning of the year. Then, they considered letting people only skip ads after watching them for three seconds.