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Snap, Like Predecessors, Arrives at Self-Service Ads

Snap continues its slow movement towards being just like any social media network that preceded it with the announcement of a self-service tool. 

Snap has taken somewhat of a circuitous path to this inevitable point. While it tried out different formats – like its $750K minimum takeovers of 2015 — the unifying protocol was that brands had to buy directly through Snap representatives. 

As the Wall Street Journal reported:

“With the new tools, marketers will be able to purchase ads themselves using a credit card starting in July, Snap said—which could encourage a broader base of companies to experiment with its ad offerings.”

It gave 20 brands beta access to the tool, according to the Journal.

This significant and expected change means that ad quality may go down, but revenues increase; an important development for a publicly traded company, even one with millennial shareholders

Like all startups that require a network effect of users and a coolness factor, Snap founder Evan Spiegel always betrayed lukewarm points of view towards advertising. When ads were first announced in 2014, he used words like “opt-in” and how users only had to watch ads if they wanted to. 

Again, this is a common practice. Tumblr’s David Karp was openly critical of ads until it became necessary and Instagram’s Kevin Systrom famously claimed to review every ad on Instagram before it went live, when the company first launched their product. All loosened the reigns in one way or another eventually.

Snap is no doubt still concerned about what opening the floodgates will do to its cool factor, but advertising is most of its revenue and they need to offer a cost-effective solution to smaller brands. 

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