Snap Inc. x Digital Upfronts: 5 things we learnt

Posted on Thursday 21 October 2021 | IAB UK

Immersive storytelling, high impact ad formats and a roster of new original content were all on the agenda at Snap Inc.’s 2021 Digital Upfront

“Today we’ll be talking all things video”, said Ed Couchman, General Manager of Snap Inc., opening Snap’s 2021 Digital Upfront. Couchman outlined how Snapchat “provides a space for self-expression, zero judgement, creativity and learning”, with the platform being built for a digital native, mobile-first audience that embrace rich storytelling. Here’s what we learnt at Snap Inc.’s event...

1. Snapchat is built for Gen Z

An overarching theme throughout Snapchat’s Upfront was that the platform has been built for Generation Z and Millennials. From the authentic stories being told via Snapchat to its partnerships with purpose, many of the speakers highlighted how the platform is allowing brands to reach and connect with hard to reach, mobile-first audiences. 

Feeding into this, Andy Pang, Snap Inc.’s Head of Marketing Science UK and Gill Hind, Director of Television at Enders Analysis, focused on how young people’s viewing habits are changing - Snapchat reaches 90% of 13-24-year-olds daily, yet a third of 16-24-year-olds won’t watch live TV at all this week. As a result, Snapchat is being used by broadcasters to spark social conversations outside of traditional TV programming, explained Hind. This strategy is “creating buzz before, after and during each show”, as well as amplifying that “shared experience that lies at the heart of live event TV”. 

2. Creators are focusing on the issues that matter

“Great content can come from anywhere. If it makes you learn or it makes you laugh, we’ve done our job”, explained Snap Inc.’s Head of Programming Suzy Cox. The value of quality, authentic and relevant content was paramount throughout the event, with Cox adding that “Snap shows resonate with Gen Z and Millennials because they tap into the issues that matter” - from mental health to world news to greater inclusivity. 

Whether it’s broadcaster’s adapting content to work for Discover, such as Channel 4 News 'Unreported World’, or Snapchat Originals like the soon to be launched ‘A Fighting Chance’ with Anthony Joshua, Snapchat is allowing partner brands to tell a diverse range of engaging stories. And, as Sky’s Mickey Carroll, Digital Video Producer, pointed out, there is a misconception “about how serious the Snapchat audience can be - it’s the hard-hitting stories that just blow up”.

3. Vertical video builds more intimacy 

“The intimacy of Snapchat is almost like you’re invited into people’s homes”, explained Kieron Bryan, Channel 4 News’ Chief Video Producer, adding that with the subscriber numbers Channel 4 News has, “we feel entrusted to do the right thing and tell the right stories for our audiences.” According to Siobhan McDade, Brand Development Director of Jungle Creations, vertical videos is key in creating a sense of of intimacy with people: “The vertical nature lends itself to more intimate stories… our watch time is triple than on other platforms, giving you the space to tell a person’s story respectfully.” Ellie Winstanley, Junior Executive Producer of Future Studios, also said that vertical video “opens up different creative opportunities, such as using a split screen to keep the story pacey”. 

4. Original content is gathering pace

Launched in 2018, Snap Originals has produced 100 original series to date, with Cox announcing the 2022 launch of the first UK Original, ‘A Fighting Chance’, an unscripted series that will follow the boxing superstar as he heads back to his hometown of Watford to make a difference in his community. This will join other new launches next year such as ‘Addison Rae Goes Home’, ‘Level Up with Stephen Curry’ and ‘The Fight Inside’ starring Ryan Garcia.

With an emphasis on content, the value of Snapchat as a brand safe environment was highlighted: “You’ll never see fake news next to videos of your best friend’s cat”, explained Cox. This was a point also discussed by Couchman, who explained that the format of advertising on Snapchat - with no adjacent content - makes it an intrinsically brand safe space that is attracting advertisers including P&G, BBC Worldwide, Unilever and Nike. 

5. Tapping into the attention economy 

According to research conducted by Snapchat and Dentsu, Snapchat commercials receive 5x more attentive seconds than the platform average, while Snapchat ads are 1.7 times more viewable and 2.1 times more likely to be viewed than average. Toccara Baker, Product Marketing at Snap Inc., took delegates though the high impact ad formats and marketing tools available to brands. These included the platform’s newest addition Spotlight, Snap Select and Commercials - Snap’s "most premium video offering" in the form of non-skippable, six seconds ads. In addition to this, First Commercials allows advertisers to reserve the first spot that people see in the Discover tab, with ads driving a “23 point lift in ad awareness”. As Baker put it: “We drive results with mobile storytelling that brings people together.”


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