After Snap’s shares took a hit from weak first-quarter results, the company made its pitch to advertisers today at IAB’s NewFronts, where it introduced new advertising products and capabilities. Here, Snap’s new President of Americas Rob Wilk, formerly Microsoft’s Head of Advertising, and Chief Creative Officer Colleen DeCourcy, spoke about a test that allowed Snap partners to use their new AI feature, My AI, to post sponsored links for users. Snap also announced new ad spaces, including the option to reserve the first video ad seen in Snapchat’s Friend Stories and the ability to advertise within the TikTok-esque Spotlight feature.
The announcements come at an important time for Snap’s ad business, which saw its revenue decline for the first time as a publicly traded company despite a 15% year-over-year increase in Snapchat users to 383 million.
The tech industry’s first-quarter results made it clear that the uptick in advertising that Meta had boosted during the first quarter hadn’t yet benefited the broader social app ecosystem. Snap wasn’t alone in feeling this impact — Google’s YouTube business also saw its ad revenue drop nearly 3% in the quarter. By opening up new ad products to marketers, Snap has the opportunity to increase sales as it finds more places to insert ads into its mobile app.
While many of the ad spaces Snap announced today were more traditional placements, one of the announcements stood out.
At the event, the company talked about how Snap could use its new AI feature to post sponsored links for users — something Snap CEO Evan Spiegel had teased during earnings.
My AI, which just rolled out to the wider Snapchat user base last month, can now suggest Lenses, Snap Map Places, and will soon be able to send a generative Snap back to Snapchat+ subscribers, in addition to having text-based conversations with users.
Today, the company confirmed that it has begun testing sponsored links in conversations with My AI that would connect users with partners relevant to their conversation. For example, if a Snapchat user asks where they want to eat, My AI can return a link sponsored by a local restaurant or food delivery app. If a user mentioned a weekend trip, My AI could return a sponsored link from an airline or hotel. Or if a user mentioned a video game, users may receive a link to a similar game from a local retailer.
Snap says it’s still in an early experimental stage with this feature and wants to make sponsored links as useful as possible.
It also notes that AI’s lessons could introduce mobile video, powered by conversational intent, to Snapchat users for the first time and noted how AI users’ conversations would help Snap deliver more relevant content in its app. to offer, including in areas such as Stories and Spotlight. In other words, it sounds like what users talk to the AI about could change the experience from what they see elsewhere in the app.
To help with this, Snap informs users that it saves their AI conversations until the user manually deletes them.
It’s worth pointing out how fast Snap works with the addition of the AI feature. The company said a little over a month ago that it was still seeking qualified AI experts to join its security advisory board. It also launched the AI product to global users before introducing parental controls, though it says those are coming. Meanwhile, Snapchat users have been scouring the AI with one-star ratings amid complaints that the feature can’t be removed from their Chat tab without paying for a subscription.
Other Snap announcements today related to Spotlight, the TikTok clone that launched in 2020. Snapchat began testing ads within the product a year ago, and during last week’s earnings report, Spiegel said Spotlight now reaches 350 million monthly active users — a figure that’s up 170% year over year.
Now the company is opening Spotlight to global advertisers, it said at NewFronts.
Spotlight ads are initially served as automatic placements with the service and advertisers can manage them through Snapchat Ads Manager. Sure, there’s some risk in buying ad slots alongside user-generated content, but Snap says it moderates Spotlight content before it reaches a wider audience, which reduces the likelihood of marketers’ content appearing alongside hateful or harmful content.
In addition, Snap introduced a new acquisition ad product called “First Story,” which allows advertisers to reserve the first Snap ad (the video ad space between Friend Stories) that users would see. The company compared the product, which it said was in high demand, to existing offerings like First Commercial and First Lens, which also allowed advertisers to reserve the top spot in other areas of the Snapchat app. The potential to be first in Friend Stories means a marketer is more likely to reach users before they leave. In the US, Snap says the potential daily reach is over 50 million.
The First Story ad placements are launching worldwide today and Warner Bros. is the first customer. It will use the advertising space for marketing the upcoming feature ‘The Flash’.
The company also announced today that it is making it easier for brands to collaborate with Snap creators through Snap Star Collab Studio in the US, its service that helps brands find, collaborate and achieve results with Snap Stars, such as the names its top makers and other public figures. on the app. The new Studio will aid partnerships by connecting brands with preferred production partners – Studio71, Beeline by Brat TV, Influential and Whalar – to create and perform their sponsored Stories and creatives.
Over the course of the year, Snap will also expand its API and introduce additional paid amplification tools, helping creative brands reach more users.
Snap also announced a series of new content partnerships at today’s event, including plans to partner with the Women’s World Cup, joining its existing partners, NFL, NBA and WNBA in the world of sports. Women’s World Cup will bring exclusive content to Snapchat’s Stories, Spotlight and Camera for the upcoming tournament, the company says.
“Snapchat is all about real relationships, and where more than 750 million people come every month to build connections and have fun with friends, families and their favorite creators,” said Wilk. “We are excited to share on NewFronts how those real relationships generate real influence for brands as we announce new innovations and features in Stories, Spotlight, Creators, My AI and more.”