The Ultimate Small Business Guide to Snapchat Ads

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Want to entice your Gen Z and Millennial customers? Entertain Snapchatters with interactive Snapchat Ads that prompt users to swipe up.

If your target market ranges from 13 to 34 years old, then Snapchat Ads may be a game-changer for your business. This fun, interactive platform encourages ad engagement and offers business owners several entertaining Snap Ad formats.

Are you ready to connect with Snapchatters? Learn how to advertise on Snapchat and set up your first campaign with these tips and best practices.

Overview: What are Snapchat ads?

Snapchat Ads feature a full-screen vertical video format with audio and appear between other content elements or under the Discover tab. Along with your ad creative, you can add attachments to encourage Snapchatters to swipe up to install your app or visit your website.

Ads also include interactive formats such as augmented reality (AR) lenses and geo-filters, which are excellent for appealing to the Gen Z and Millennial audiences. According to Snapchat:

  • There are 249 million daily active users (DAU) worldwide
  • More than 75% of 13- to 34-year-olds in the United States use the platform
  • Millennials and Gen Z wield over $1 trillion in direct spending power

Advertising on Snapchat helps you increase online sales, boost app installs and engagement, and raise brand awareness. However, your success depends on correctly identifying your target market, selecting the best ad format, and creating compelling ad copy and visuals.

6 types of Snapchat ads

Snapchat offers six types of advertisements with a minimum daily spend of $5 per ad set per day. Your social media advertising cost may vary based on your objective, campaign length, budget, bid goal, and bid amount.

Similar to other types of digital advertising, Snapchat charges are based on CPM. CPM means cost per mille, and in advertising, it equals your price per 1,000 impressions. Make the most out of your budget by choosing an ad format that suits your goals.

1. Single image or video ads

Single image or video ads are full-screen advertisements that get sandwiched between Publisher Stories, Our Stories, User Stories, and Creator Shows. Snap Ads are best for increasing online sales, app installs, or app engagement.

With this format, you can mix GIF-like images, animated or live videos, cinemagraphs, or still photos for up to 10 seconds of footage. Add an attachment, and it appears at the bottom of your Snap Ad, prompting users to swipe up.

2. Filters

Filters are creative overlays that show up when Snapchatters take a snap and swipe right or left. This format is excellent for product launches, in-store events, and brand awareness. Filters are affordable for small businesses, except for Snapchat Sponsored Filters mainly used by big brands with large budgets.

Choose from two types of Filters:

  • On-Demand Filters: Used by businesses and consumers, geo-filters let you specify a location and time for your Filter to show up.
  • Filters in the Snapchat Ad Manager: Work with Awareness or Consideration goals and target your defined consumer base.
Snapchat’s Create Your Own tool for Filter design.

Create an On-Demand Filter using Snapchat’s free design tool. Image source: Author


3. Story Ads

Story Ads show up in Snapchat’s Discover section via a branded tile. Each tile features a collection of three to 20 videos or images. Story Ads work well to boost online sales, retarget existing customers, build brand awareness, and increase app installs or engagement. Plus, you can add an attachment to improve conversions.

4. Lenses

Lenses AR invites Snapchatters to interact and play with your advertisement. It’s suitable for all types of goals, with Snapchat reporting, “Over 180 million DAUs engage with augmented reality every day on average.”

Lenses AR experiences come in two formats:

  • Face Lenses: Help Snapchatters try on your jewelry, hair extensions, or makeup virtually.
  • World Lenses: Allow users to interact with your products and features via a 3D overlay.

5. Product Catalog Ads

Also known as Collection Ads, Product Catalog Ads appear between Stories and Shows in Snapchat. This format allows you to highlight your products and services in a shoppable online advertisement. Use Collection Ads to increase online sales.

6. Commercials

Commercials boost brand awareness by showing non-skippable content for six seconds, but these Snapchat Ads can be up to three minutes long. Commercials appear under the Curated Content section, which includes Shows and Games.

How to set up your first Snapchat ad campaign

If you’re new to advertising, then it’ll take you a few minutes to become familiar with setting up your campaign. However, Snapchat Ads Manager is an excellent social media management tool that’s free and easy to use.

The platform also offers Snap Publisher to develop creative content from your web browser. Once you’ve set up your business ad account, click on Ads Manager, then Create Ads. The exact steps you’ll take to create your campaign will vary based on your ad format and goals.

1. Choose Instant Create or Advanced Create

Snapchat gives you two ways to build an ad campaign. Instant Create lets you design a Snap Ad within seconds but comes in only one format. In contrast, Advanced Create gives you the full range of ad targeting, goals, and format options.

2. Select your ad campaign goals

Instant Create gives you a choice of goals such as website visits, promote a local place, calls and texts, app installs, or app visits. With Advanced Create, you can choose from among these goals:

  • Branding
  • App installs
  • Drive traffic to a website
  • Drive traffic to an app
  • Engagement
  • Video views
  • Lead generation
  • App conversions
  • Website conversions
  • Catalog sales

3. Build your ad sets

Under Instant Create, you simply upload your image or video, choose one from your library, or use a premade template. With Advanced Create, you’ll configure your format, placement, targeting data, and delivery information before designing.

To create an ad, you’ll need your brand name, headline, and a call to action. You can also add an optional caption and logo.

4. Configure audience targeting

Snapchat gives you countless ways to target your audience, including adding custom or lookalike audiences. Choose from targeting parameters, such as:

  • Up to 500 geographic locations
  • Location categories like movie theaters or beaches
  • Demographics
  • Shopping behavior
  • Device type
  • Lifestyle or interests

Create a look-alike or custom audience for your Snap Ad based on data from your customer relationship management (CRM) platform or website analytics. You can also deliver ads to users who previously interacted with your ads.

Snapchat’s Audience Insights tab.

Use the Snapchat Ad Manager to view insights about your audience or create a look-alike audience. Image source: Author


5. Set your budget

You can choose daily and lifetime spending caps to specify amounts your ad campaign spends per day or over its lifetime. For daily budget and bid, Snapchat offers a recommendation based on average channel performance, but you can change this amount as needed.

6. Publish your Snapchat Ad

Once you’ve reviewed your design and settings, you can preview your ads and click Publish. Snapchat’s ad team reviews all ads before sending them out to your audience. This process usually takes 24 hours, but Snapchat recommends submitting your ad 24 to 48 hours before the campaign’s start date.

4 best practices for effective Snapchat Ads

Interactive and playful Snapchat Ads mesh into the platform and feel more like a game than an advertisement. Appeal to Snapchatters using immersive design elements while ensuring your campaign aligns with your social media strategy and goals.

1. Make sure your ad tells Snapchatters what happens when they swipe

For an effective Snapchat ad, make your offer clear. What do your users get when they swipe up? Are you offering a free download? A phone call or text from your team? Or a coupon to use toward their next purchase?

2. Review specifications for images and videos

For best results, go through individual specifications for your ad format to ensure optimal design. For instance, Snapchat adds your headline and brand name to the upper left corner, so don’t put your logo or other creative elements in this spot.

3. Hook your audience immediately

Start your ad off with dynamic footage and establish your brand immediately afterward. This should all happen within the first two or three seconds. Plus, don’t forget about audio. Snapchat says, “64% of Snapchat Ads are viewed with the sound on.”

4. Put Snapchatters first

Having a clear understanding of what delights your target market is key to increasing brand awareness, engagement, and conversions. Tailor each ad element to the specific parameters you laid out during your campaign setup.

Expand your reach by advertising on Snapchat

Learning how to advertise on social media can be challenging. However, mixing in some paid promotions alongside your organic efforts can extend your reach and give Snapchatters new ways to experience your brand and products.

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