Snapchat Advertising for Higher Education (and Others)

Everyone knows that social media is growing and evolving as an advertising tool. Whether you work for an institution of higher education, or you are just trying to reach a younger demographic, you might have some questions regarding Snapchat advertising, so here we are going to throw down some of the basics.

Snapchat was launched in 2011 by, then students at Stanford University, Evan Speigel, Bobby Murphy, and Reggie Brown. The app allows users to capture photos or short videos which can be sent to other Snapchatters. Once the photo or video is sent and watched, it “disappears.” Snapchat now features various filters, lenses and a drawing tool. The app also offers Geofilters, which are filters only available in certain locations, and Live Stories, stories created from photos and videos submitted by Snapchat users which are only visible for 24 hours. Usually the Live Stories are based on specific events and users can only submit content if they are in that geographic location. Snapchat also offers a section called, “Discovery,” which hosts premium content provided by editorial partners like National Geographic, CNN, and People.Snapchat Demographics


Demographic of Snapchat

Snapchat is an ideal platform to use when trying to reach young people, particularly 13 – 35 year olds. The majority
of Snapchat users are between the ages of 18 and 24. There are over 100 million daily active users of Snapchat who compile over 7 billion video views daily. This platform has the ideal demographics for colleges that are recruiting.


Advertising Options

Snapchat advertising is special compared to Twitter or Facebook ads. There are two basic kinds of ads:  filters or lenses that overlay the user’s video or photo, and actual ads that run in-between curated or premium content. Snapchat ads are created specifically for mobile in a vertical format that takes up an entire screen. This means your ad content has no other competition on the screen with it, promising a higher likelihood that people will pay attention. Additionally, advertisements that are video based always play with sound, as long as the user’s audio is turned on. This is one more way for your ad to catch the attention of the viewer. Snapchat offers a variety of advertising options including ads in Live Stories and the Discovery section as well as Geofilters.



These are just some of the 18 Discovery channels.
These are just some of the 18 Discovery channels.
By swiping down on this ad, users could access recipes provided by the advertiser, Hidden Valley Ranch.
This is an ad within the Tastemaker Discovery channel. By swiping down on this ad, users could access recipes provided by the advertiser, Hidden Valley Ranch.

First, Snapchat offers advertising in the Discovery section of the app, where editorial partners post original content each day. So far, Snapchat has been pretty tight lipped about how this kind of advertising works. After research, we have found that ads in this Discovery content are sold by Snapchat and by the particular editorial partners. Ads are a minimum of two cents per view and ad rates are determined by the number of views the advertiser is guaranteed. Advertisements can be 10 second photos or videos which appear between other pieces of editorial content or a brand can “take over” an edition of a Discovery channel with branded messaging throughout. The number of “take overs” of a channel per month are limited by Snapchat.

This option seems to offer the least amount of geographic flexibility and is a bit complex, but allows advertisers to target audiences based on interests. These ads can reach anywhere from half a million people to well over a million, so rates are pretty high. This isn’t currently a great option for college or university advertising, but Snapchat’s ad platforms are always evolving so check back in a few months, and things may have changed.


Live Story

This is part of Snapchat's Iowa Caucus Eve Live Story. Usually Iowa has a local Live Story, but with the caucus on February 1st, this story can be seen worldwide.
This is part of Snapchat’s Iowa Caucus Eve Live Story. Usually Iowa has a local Live Story, but with the caucus on February 1st, this story can be seen worldwide.

There are a few different kinds of Live Stories. First, there are Live Stories that are local, like the Iowa story or college campus specific stories. Then there are also worldwide Live Stories where any Snapchat user can view the story. Live Story ads are similar to Discovery ads, as ads are sandwiched between curated content, making them appear more native and less intrusive. Live Stories cover a variety of events from all over the world and are viewable by either any user of snapchat or a specific local audience. So far, it is not clear if Snapchat advertising is available on these local community stories or not.

As for the worldwide Live Stories, around 20 million people view these stories in the 24 hour period they are live. Ben Schwerin, Snapchat’s director of partnerships, reported that the April 2015 Live Story of Coachella generated 40 million unique viewers. That’s a lot of eyes. Snapchat usually offers four ad spots in Live Stories. The ad spot at the beginning of a story is typically more expensive than the spot at the end, giving advertisers a little flexibility when it comes to pricing. Interested advertisers can contact Snapchat and either find an event that suits their brand or suggest Snapchat covers a specific event that they were not already planning to host a Live Story for. As Live Stories generally have huge audiences, they are expensive and probably not the right fit for college advertising. If Snapchat does allow advertisers to place ads in local Live Stories, this would be a viable option for schools that are able to target by state. This is something we are looking into further.


Sponsored Lenses

This Snapchat lens recognized my face and turned me into driver with a distinctive mustache.
This Snapchat lens recognized my face and turned me into driver with a distinctive mustache.

Snapchat lenses are effects that are triggered by facial recognition and are applied to videos or photos of faces. For example, there is a lens that makes you look sick and when you raise your eyebrows a thermometer comes out of your mouth. Snapchat is also offering sponsored lenses. It has been reported that Snapchat lenses are used on more than 10 million snaps a day and cost over $500,000 per day. A sponsored lens is a great option if you are trying to reach a very large audience fast, but is probably on the pricier side.


Sponsored Geofilters

Geofilters are digital stickers used to overlay users photos or videos and can only be utilized in a specific geographical location. Users are looking for ways to differentiate their content, and Geofilters are providing that. Sponsored Geofilters are pretty new for Snapchat and it is not clear the price range that the handful of advertisers have paid. Since Geofilters are location based, this gives advertisers the option to narrow down the target audience and to control pricing. This might be a good option for colleges that generally recruit from a few specific states and could come up with Geofilter messaging that made sense in the particular location.


Non Sponsored Geofilters

This, "Las Vegas," Snapchat Geofilter helped me tell a story and added uniqueness to my content.
This, “Las Vegas,” Snapchat Geofilter helped me tell a story and added uniqueness to my content.

Geofilters are a wonderful option for colleges or universities for a few reasons. First, submitting your community Geofilter graphic is FREE. Yes, you read that correctly, free. According to Snapchat, all you have to do is go to the snapchat website to submit your graphics and choose a location for your Geofilter to be shown. Snapchat then reviews submissions and will email you if yours is chosen. Snapchat only uses original graphics for local areas. Snapchat community Geofilters are unique because as of now, business are not eligible for community Geofilters, but Colleges and Universities are.

These Geofilters are beneficial for a few main reasons. First, if the college does a fair amount of recruitment from the local area of the college, this is a great way to reach and resonate with their local audience. Additionally, the Geofilter will be used by current students and sent to their friends who are likely attending other schools or high schools all over the country. There is also potential for the Geofilter to be submitted to the local Live Story in your area, the Iowa Story in our case, allowing the filter to reach a very wide audience.

While free sure does sound great, there are some drawbacks to using the Snapchat Community Geofilter. First, there are not metrics offered for Geofilters like they are offered for Live Story or Discovery Ads. Also, there is no guarantee that your Geofilter will be selected or that people in the geographic area will choose to use your filter. While submitting the filter is free, the time spent to create and submit your filter usually is not. There is also less control over the message that users will choose to accompany the Geofilter. In the case of Snapchat advertising, the less money you spend, the less control you have, but Geofilters are a great option for higher education advertising.


Overall, there are a variety of Snapchat advertising options and a few that are pretty viable for institutions of higher education, like Geofilters and local Live Stories. Snapchats ad platform is constantly evolving and changing. If you want to learn more about Snapchat or social media advertising, give us a call!

– Maggie Weldin, Marketing Coordinator

Related posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *