Snapchat Down to a Science
Snapchat’s distinct take on social media reflects an equally unique trend on their advertising platform. Identifying trends and understanding why they exist is a crucial step in figuring out pieces of the undisclosed algorithms that direct the ways ads behave on each ad platform. Having a clearer understanding of the algorithms at work help advertisers decide the best ways to plan, manage, and optimize their ad accounts. For Snap Ad accounts, planning for short campaign flights is a verifiably optimal way to maximize performance.
Depicted above are the effective cost per 1,000 impressions (CPM) each day in one Snapchat advertising account. Snapchat’s “Grow Awareness” campaign type produces a very consistent CPM, but for many accounts CPM increases by around $0.25 on the 5th day of a campaign. It might seem small at first, but even at the minimum $50 daily spend this increase in CPM can result an ad appearing in front of several thousand less people than the day before. The days following the 5th day may result in even higher CPMs, meaning even more missed opportunities
Our Snapchat rep attributed the spike in CPM to the creative becoming stale. This is an interesting generalization because creative can go stale in more ways than one. If too many users see the ad too frequently, they will get annoyed leading to a drop in overall engagement and performance. However, the moderate lifetime frequencies in our accounts and the consistent timings of these spikes on the 5th day suggest they are not being caused by the variable behavior of individual Snapchatters across different markets
Cracking the Code
An algorithm operating behind the scenes could be able to artificially determine that a creative is stale. Without knowing exactly how a secret algorithm designed to judge the lifespan of a creative would work, we’re left to assume it would consider a combination of factors, such as daily budget, day-parting, potential reach, days since launch, actual reach, and frequency. If the algorithm determines that an ad is stale, it may stop delivering the ads to those who have seen it the most, or it could even increase the current bid. Both possibilities would result in an increase in CPM.
While Snapchat’s algorithms will never be fully disclosed to advertisers, Snapchat has a good reason for designing one that would raise CPMs after a brief period of time. It could be part of a strategy to push advertisers to constantly make new and effective ad creative. This aligns with one of their creative best practices:
Simple Creative – Keep ad creative simple and concise with a clear key message. Ads should seek to mirror the bite-sized and linear storytelling of Snaps. Snapchat recommends keeping duration closer to :05-:06.
User content on Snapchat has a short lifespan, so further building on the mirrored content best practice suggests that Snapchat prefers ads that have short lifespans; increasing CPM after the first 4 days is an effective way to make advertisers comply with this goal.
We are happy to adhere to the Snap Ads best practices in order to maximize the performance of our Snap Ad campaigns for our clients. From our experience, producing multiple creative and taking the extra step to make two 5-day flights instead of one 10-day flight can be the difference in obtaining 10,000 – 50,000 more impressions from potential customers. Even separating two campaign flights by one day and changing the creative is enough to “reset” the CPM.
Looking for a way to get the most out of advertising on Snapchat?
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By Steve Ott
Online Media Strategist