Is a Snapchat Super Bowl ad worth $3M?

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Snapchat's price for two filters tying into the Big Game may not be as crazy as you think, writes a global team lead at GlassView.

Quick: Try to recall a single TV ad during last year's Super Bowl.

Coming up blank? That's no surprise. Though marketers spent as much as $5 million for 30-second spots during last year's big game, most of us would be hard pressed to recall a single ad. The Advertising Research Foundation would call that a waste of money.

On the other hand, you're likely to recall a recent conversation you had with friends or something you posted on Facebook, particularly if it got a strong response. This is why Snapchat's request for $3 million each for two filters tying in with this year's Super Bowl may not be as crazy as you think. Given Snapchat's young-skewing audience, placement on the platform doesn't make sense for everyone, but if you're going after Millennials or Gen Z consumers, then the cost is justified.

Snapchat is said to now get around 150 million daily visitors. Some 71 percent of those visitors are in the coveted Millennial group, which is so important to marketers that they're spending 500 percent more trying to reach this group than all of the other demographic groups combined. In addition, Snapchat's demographics are shifting as the service becomes more mainstream. Some 50 percent of new Snapchat users are over 25 and the growth percentage among consumers over 35 is greater than the percentage among 18- to 24-year-olds.

As those stats show, Snapchat's audience is bigger than the Super Bowl's 111 million or so viewers and it skews younger. According to one 2016 survey, about half of Millennials said they planned to skip the game. Millennials have proven to be fairly immune to the NFL's charms anyway, and this year's Super Bowl comes after an unprecedented slump in viewership for NFL games. 

While the TV audience withers, Snapchat has introduced innovations like custom lenses and filters and Live Stories, all of which have offered new opportunities for advertisers and have kept users engaged. What's more, consumers actually use these branded features: One big impetus for Snapchat's $3 million ask is its success with a Gatorade filter, which was viewed some 165 million times.

And while it's true that Snapchat's metrics for advertisers are notoriously lacking, the company has improved its targeting over the past year and can now let advertisers target via consumers' email addresses and the type of content they view. Advertisers can also target lookalike audiences with Snapchat.

For advertisers, the best argument in Snapchat's favor is that it represents a switch in media consumption from viewing to participating. When Snapchat's young users gather around the TV this year to watch the Super Bowl, they will be using Snapchat and its branded filters to share the moment. True, the "moment" is likely to involve commercials. Yet such ads are judged on their artistic merits rather than for their message. For example, Taco Bell might run a funny ad that gets some Millennial attention, but it's not going to get this group to interact with the brand the way Snapchat does

While TV ads are part of the background noise of life, some 62 percent of Millennials said they are more likely to become a loyal customer if a brand engages with them on a social network.

That said, let's not set up a false dichotomy. Advertising during the Super Bowl is a solid way to get your brand in front of a plurality of Millennials in a venue that they won't skip or ignore. However, there's a good chance that this target audience will be interacting with their little screen as ads are playing on the big screen. Ideally, an advertiser would be in both places. If you have to choose though, $3 million is looking like a bargain.

Daniel Dryburgh is the global team lead at GlassView.