Social media advertising is increasingly becoming the lifeblood of digital marketing. This is because the level to which marketers can target people on Facebook and other platforms is further advanced than any other form of marketing. Consequently, the pressure is on Snapchat, whose CEO previously pledged that they will not embrace ‘creepy’ forms of advert targeting, to introduce targeted ads, and move away from the blanket ad spots that we’re used to seeing whilst browsing our friends’ stories.

Snapchat has just announced that its new targeting options will focus on buying data from a third party in order to create 100 customer profiles that marketers can target with adverts. These profiles include “men’s clothing shopper” and “cosmetics shopper”, which doesn’t sound like the level of targeting we’ve come to know and love over the road at Facebook; however we’re interested in seeing how these pan out.

This announcement follows the September update which featured ‘Snap Audience Match’, which works in a similar way to Facebook custom audience imports from Mailchimp. Brands are able to upload lists of email addresses and Snapchat matches them to users.

The key difference that is raising eye brows with this latest announcement is the fact that Snapchat are using third party data to aid targeting, rather than their own data. However, this isn’t a new concept. In fact, Facebook is one of the biggest buyers of data in the world, but it is Snapchat’s decision to start offering more targeted advertising (an apparent U-turn on the CEO’s pledge) which is attracting attention.


Snapchat’s U-turn on their stance on ‘creepy’ advert targeting is a surprise, but not necessarily a bad surprise. In a social environment that is increasingly succumbing to advertising, we are all going to be hit with ads in one way or another, so surely it would benefit everyone if they were ads for things that we are actually interested in?

What also is surprising about Snapchat’s move, is that these new customer profiles, are not particularly targeted – which seemingly defeats the point. 100 different profiles sounds like a lot, but take ‘car shopper’ for example. A VW car shopper is an entirely different targeting demographic to a Mercedes car shopper. These tools don’t give us much more scope than the blanket campaigns we’re used to seeing on the app for things with wide appeal like movies and phone contracts.

On one side, you’ve got privacy-conscious Snapchat users who probably don’t want the company buying and storing information about their buying habits. Then on the other side, you have shareholders driving demand for more revenue, and better targeting tools for marketers to make the app a more attractive platform to advertise on. This solution appears to meet every party in the middle!

The new ads are set to launch in March, so prepare to ads you are slightly more interested in on Snapchat!