Snapchat is Done, Or Is It? A Quick Guide to Snapchat Advertising and its Ad Types

“Snapchat is dead.” I’ve been hearing that phrase for the past three years (Kylie Jenner I’m looking at you) [1] and yet most people I know still have it on their phones and use it every day. Snapchat took a big hit when Instagram added Stories to their platform in 2016 but despite that the social media platform is still alive and well. In fact, its daily active users (DAU) increased in 2019 to 190 million and by September 2020 that number was up again to 249 million.

So, what has kept Snapchatters snapping and chatting? Simple: filters and games. 90% of all 13-24 year-olds in the US are on the platform [2], so these features are made with that age demographic in mind. In 2019, Snapchat saw a surge in users after introducing new filters (specifically the gender-swapping lens and aging lens that makes a user look 95). These effects were introduced in April [3] and led to Snapchat being downloaded 41.5 million times in May [4], more than twice the number of downloads from the month before.

Snap Games [5] have also led to more snaps being sent daily. You can now take turns shooting a basketball at a virtual hoop and chatting throughout the whole game. To top that off, Snap is constantly developing new Snapchat original video content for their Discover page, such as Tekashi69 vs.The World and Endless Summer (now on season three, with over 38 million users, btw) [6]. All of these new features and continued innovation (including an improved version of the Android app) have led to more Snapchat downloads and daily users [7].

More Snapchat users means more impressions. Snap continues to be an effective and efficient advertising channel. If you are looking to reach a younger crowd, it’s hard to beat the cheap CPSUs (we see cost-per-swipe-ups around $0.11) and varied ad types. They are continually rolling out new and interesting ways to reach their audience. Most recently Snap has introduced a self-serve lens web builder [8], which allows brands to create their own AR lenses. Over the years they have been steadily increasing their targeting capabilities. You can target based on:

  • Interests & Behaviors
  • Demographics
  • Location (by country/state/city, radiuses, or location “categories”)
  • Custom audiences, third party audiences and/or lookalike audiences.

So, now that you know Snapchat is in fact “snapping” back, what are your ad options?

I’ve outlined all six ad types with their pros and cons so that you can make the right marketing decisions. Happy snapping! 

Snap ads

What: Image or video ads that are the most popular ad type on the platform.

Snap Ads

Where: These appear between users’ stories and can feel very authentic to the platform. 

Tip: With all video assets, we recommend getting your message across in the first few seconds in case a user swipes right before the video is completed. 

Destination: Snap offers an array of objectives with this ad type such as swiping up to a website, app, AR lens, video or app store page.

Collection ads

What: These ads are great when you are trying to sell multiple different products as you can show up to four products at once and the user can choose which they want to learn more about. 

Collection Ads

Where: Between users’ stories

Tip: Don’t have images on hand? No problem! Simply insert your brand’s URL and Snap can pull different images from your site to use in the ads.

Story ads

What: A series of videos or images all relating to your brand and/or product.

Story Ads

Where: These live on Snapchat’s Discover page, which is individually curated based on users’ snap behavior. 

Tip: This is an opportunity to share a significantly longer message or story with your audience that can be told via 3-20 assets. That can lead to a very impactful impression you only have to pay once for.


What: As the name suggests, these are six second, non-skippable videos 


Where: Between Snap’s original content on the Discover page

Fun fact: Snapchat has produced 95 original TV shows that your commercial could appear within.


What: Filters are a great way to include your brand in users’ organic snaps and stories. 

Where: After snapping a photo, users can add different overlays, why not one that reps your brand?

AR lenses

What: AR lenses make the act of taking a photo or video more exciting by adding filters and 3D effects to users’ cameras. 


Where: The selfie-taking process 

Tip: Check out our other blog posts for info on this ad type! Instagram Camera Effects