Snapchat wants to receive the largest IPO, or initial public offering, that they possibly can for their scheduled public debut in March 2017. This being said, the company is trying to make itself seem as valuable as possible right now, and that means emphasizing the potential of the app’s advertising capabilities. These efforts could potentially mean more ads for consumers in the near future as well as the company accessing more of your personal information.
To begin to explain what kind of effect this will have on users, let me ask you a question. Have you ever seen an ad on your Facebook sidebar for a product that you were just looking at online? Most people find it kind of annoying. Currently, Snapchat limits the specificity of its ads as they will appear to users. Understanding this sentiment, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel has expressed distaste for that kind of marketing, saying that it is “creepy” and Snapchat is not about “being creepy”.
However, this is not music to investors’ ears. Marketers and investors alike want to know that their advertisements have the correct reach and will result in purchases. Because Snapchat ads aren’t as specific as, say, Facebook ads, they don’t actually know what the user reaction will be. Right now, Snapchat only uses your email and information you’ve entered in the app to target you. If the company begins to purchase consumer data, they could learn a lot more.
For example, if you use the same email address for other things/accounts (such as web subscriptions or store loyalty programs) as you do for Snapchat, the app could easily access all of that information and use it for advertisement purposes. As an avid consumer of both Snapchat and Facebook, I currently find Snapchat ads to be much more discreet and less irritating than the ones on Facebook. There is also less advertising overall and, as a social media user, I like that. I also think that using different filters to promote a product (like different movies use filters) is creative, fun, and interactive.
Snapchat going public looks like a win-lose situation that marketers will enjoy and consumers will find annoying. Only time will tell, but I hope that Snapchat is able to maintain its current privacy settings and stay away from being “creepy”.