Will 2016 be the year of Snapchat? The mobile messaging app’s user base is forecast to grow by 27% this year, pulling far ahead of Twitter and Pinterest in the US for the first time. This trend is set to continue and the gap widen until 2020, according to eMarketer’s latest forecast on messaging apps.
For Snapchat’s avid fans, this will be no surprise. “The fun aspect of Snapchat should also be credited for its success. In a world where there is an app for nearly everything, Snapchat has cut through the clutter by injecting fun back into social sharing,” says analyst Cathy Boyle.
The startup has recently been valued at $20bn, so it makes sense that they’re taking steps to prove their worth. They’ve now linked up with numerous advertising and creative partners, including ad tech developers and content agencies, with a view to expand advertising on the platform, including Snap Ads Between Stories. As Snapchat chief strategy officer, Imran Khan, said on adweek, “Different marketers have different objectives, and we just want to make it easier for them to buy ads on the platform.”
While growth stats for Snapchat make impressive reading, what’s interesting about the report is that it highlights how Snapchat will not be able to catch up to Facebook Messenger. This year Messenger is forecast to achieve over 105 million users in the US – twice the number of Snapchat. This equates to nearly two-thirds of the US population using Facebook Messenger at least once a month. Growth is thought to continue for the platform with the gap between Facebook Messenger and their rivals likely to widen. This year Messenger should have 46.6 million more users than Snapchat, but by 2018 this figure will be 53.7 million.
This represents a big opportunity for brands looking to engage users on the platform – and probably even more of an opportunity for Facebook! We’ve already seen how useful Chat Bots can be, but it won’t be long until Facebook really tries to monetise their platform, and all social media news followers will know this means one thing…ads or sponsored content.
Will paid ads be next in Messenger? We’re unsure. Facebook’s users are reported to be spending less time engaging with each other on the channel and instead consuming more and more content. Messenger adoption is pivotal for the basic interactions that keep users online longer. At present Facebook are allowing brands to use Messenger for content on an ‘opt in’ basis with consumers having the option to block any content from brands being pushed into their app. At a time when ad-blockers are on the rise – this approach is an attractive fit at least for the millennial audience Facebook currently shares with it’s biggest competitor – you guessed it… Snapchat. It’s a great opportunity to serve content to a quality audience and benefits everyone – brand, consumer and Facebook. All we know right now is that the money has to come from somewhere.
This could mean that they hark back to the kind of approach seen in this early test of a sponsored Facebook Message from Uber. However, they’ve since adamantly said they’re keen not to annoy their avid users with intrusive messaging. This is a real concern, since an alert previously would mean someone you cared about was getting in touch – now it could be Dominos pizza.
Facebook’s VP of Product for Messenger David Marcus is well aware of this and states in a TechCrunch article that, “These will definitely be limited…we’re very paranoid about that and we don’t want bad things to happen to anyone.”
Rumours seem to be suggesting that companies can only send sponsored ‘re-engagement’ messaging to those who have already contacted a brand.
It also appears that Facebook seem to be pushing groups, group calling and group messaging a lot– which could mean they see a gap in the market for smaller peer conversations, but not just one-to-one chat (Hello WhatAapp or Skype!).
It would be surprising, as it’s in keeping with their usual approach, succinctly surmised in the below tweet from @adamjsimon:
Either way, the reach and engagement metrics around Messenger are undoubtedly strong – it’ll be interesting to see how Facebook choose to leverage it next.
If you want to get ahead of Snapchat and Messenger’s game, we want to help you do it. Ask us anything you want to know about the future of social content distribution @mycleveragency.