Oh Snap! What Users Aren’t Getting About Snapchat

snapchat-imageSnapchat fans are basically clueless when recognizing ads on the wildly popular social network. 

Snapchat wins.

According to a Business Insider article, “Users are more likely to read content on Snapchat Discover than Facebook Instant Articles or Twitter Moments, according to a new study from Digital Context Next.”

It’s currently the top social platform among teens and Millennials in the U.S., edging out Facebook and Instagram and coming in way ahead of Twitter. They are more likely to use it to both share and consume content, the article continues, relying on Snapchat Discover to find new content.

There’s a problem, though. The study also noted that they are basically clueless when it comes to understanding the source of the Snapchat Discover content they voraciously consume. In fact, “[Snapchat] users were the least likely to recognize that a third-party brand or publisher had been behind the content on Snapchat Discover.”

In other words, they don’t know they are being marketed to while they are being entertained and “informed,” much like sponsored content in other media.

Why is this happening on Snapchat more than on other social platforms? The article notes that this is likely due to several factors:

  • The Discover page is overcrowded with publishers, and their logos and other branding info easily gets lost in the crowd.
  • It all looks roughly the same in format, as the distinct Snapchat style is a vertical video layout.
  • Publishers’ brand identities are overshadowed by the strength of the Snapchat brand itself. “The popularity of the platform causes it to overshadow the brands that it hosts on its Discovery page,” notes the article.

The Snapchat celebrity phenomenon is hugely popular among their user demographic, and teens are generally not media-savvy enough to realize that those celebrities are in fact being paid by brands for much of their creative content. It’s a subtle yet important distinction, like the time Greg Brady wore Levis. Not many teens recognized that as product placement, but a whole bunch of them had to have those pants.

We hope brands aren’t setting themselves up for the big disappointment and trust issues. In the words of a disillusioned and more cynical Ralphie Parker: “A crummy commercial??”