Snapchat Launches Behavioral Targeting: Considerations for Digital Marketers (UPDATED)

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Snapchat Launches Behavioral Targeting: Considerations for Digital Marketers (UPDATED)

Recent news unveiled that Snapchat will be expanding its ad targeting capabilities to include behavioral targeting and 1st party data targeting, which will be rolled out to advertisers in Q3 and Q4 2016. To date, targeting on Snapchat has been limited to basic user information such as age, gender, location, device, and mobile carrier.

Lifestyle Categories

Snapchat’s introduction of Lifestyle Categories, enables advertisers to target users based on content they consume on Snapchat. With Lifestyle Categories, Snapchat will understand what consumers like, solely based on the celebrity accounts they follow and the promoted stories they view.  By understanding what customers are most interested in, brands can leverage this information to deliver precise recommendations.

  • Limited to Snap Ads and will not be available to lens or geo-filter campaigns
  • Categories are currently based on user interactions with content on Snapchat
  • Will be released in Q3

Audience Match

Audience Match will allow advertisers to use 1st party email addresses and mobile device IDs, and anonymously match that data with Snapchat’s own pool of consumer data. Similar to Facebook and Twitter’s CRM targeting capabilities, Audience Match helps brands extend targeting to user activities beyond Snapchat and reach their own customers within the Snapchat experience.  Advertisers can segment customer lists based on things like repeat or infrequent shoppers.

  • Limited to Snap Ads and will not be available to lens or geo-filter campaigns
  • There will be no personally identifiable data collected in this process
  • Users are currently unable to opt-out of audience match targeting
  • Snapchat has also enabled lookalike targeting to extend reach to consumers who have similar characteristics to an advertiser’s existing customer base.
  • Available in Q4


Brands have already seen significant success using similar tools on other social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, so it is a clear next step for Snapchat to add this capability to its product offering.

According to eMarketer, over 50% of social network users will be regularly using Snapchat this year, but Snapchat currently represents less than 3% of social media spend due to limited ad opportunities and targeting capabilities to date. The addition of the new audience and behavioral targeting marks a significant change in the ability of advertisers to effectively use Snapchat as a marketing tool.


  • Maximizing Millennial Targeting: Partnering with Snapchat just gives marketers another outlet to utilize data collection for targeting purposes. According to MWPartners, Snapchat is now the third most popular social media app among millennials, just behind Instagram and Facebook.

And leveraging behavioral targeting through Snapchat can only call for efficient results. According to a recent study, the Digital Satisfaction Index™ (DSI), conducted by Performics and Northwestern University, personalization is very important to millennials; they want experiences and messages tailored to them, rather than being fed information that’s irrelevant to their interests.

Satisfaction across Personalization image

  • Experience Optimization: The overall nature of Snapchat encourages users to interact with one another. 62% of millennials enjoy and look forward to catching glimpses into other peoples’ lives by going online—much more than any other age group (DSI). The behavioral targeting tool Snapchat plans to launch is focused on helping advertisers create meaningful experiences for users, which will in turn lead to conversions, especially if users feel a strong connection with the brand.
  • Timely Content: More and more consumers are engaging with multiple devices at once—while watching TV, while shopping, while playing games, etc. Millennials especially are never truly “hands-off.” We’re always connected. Knowing that consumers are constantly switching between devices and multi-tasking, it’s necessary to catch them at the right moment by personalizing content to reel them in.

Users don’t have time to sift through articles and other forms of content to decide what they want to read or watch; instead, they go directly for the content that’s intriguing and appealing. Snapchat’s quick segments are exactly what marketers need to capture the attention of busy consumers. Overall, Snapchat’s plan to launch behavioral targeting only furthers the notion that we are moving into an “always-connected” space, reaching consumers when it’s most convenient for them.


In response to advertisers, Snapchat has made a concerted effort in 2016 to improve their ad offering through expanded targeting and reporting capabilities. While the targeting capabilities are not new to social advertisers, they show great strides in Snapchat’s efforts to provide insight into its user-base and enable advertisers to present more relevant content to Snapchat audiences.

The rollout of Snapchat’s new targeting capabilities are timely, given the fact that the app will be launching their ads API beta in Q4.  Advertisers heavily rely on more insightful user data to optimize self-service ad campaigns, so this advanced targeting is an elemental piece of a successful Ads API offering.

As Snapchat continues to develop its product offering for users, we anticipate that they will find additional ways to understand user behavior within the app, to improve targeting capability, ad relevancy and overall advertiser performance.

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