While plenty of schools are using Snapchat as part of their organic social media strategy, not many are running paid ads on the platform. Because advertising on Snapchat has always involved high costs and a complicated set-up process, many schools opted for other easier-to-use, cheaper social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
However, with the recent release of Snap Ad Manager, all of that could change. The new self-serve ad platform was officially launched in select countries in mid-June, and will be rolling out worldwide over the coming months.
Ad Manager presents a unique opportunity for schools to experiment with advertising on Snapchat: it allows them to create, launch, optimize, and monitor ads from their web browser, and makes it much simpler and more accessible to do so than other platforms. Best of all, there is no minimum spend, meaning institutions of all sizes can use the service regardless of their budget.
If you’re looking for a new way to freshen up your social media advertising strategy, read on to learn more about Snap Ad Manager.
Snap Ad Manager Makes Snapchat Advertising Accessible for Higher Education
Since Snapchat first began offering advertising services in 2014, schools have been reluctant to invest in the platform. While the app’s ad formats have attracted praise for their creativity and effectiveness, campaigns could only be purchased through Snapchat’s in-house account managers, and were usually developed on a case-by-case basis by an agency or the company’s in-house creative team. This made the service far too expensive for most schools, including many large universities. The cost barrier was so high, in fact, that it wasn’t just schools avoiding the platform. Many small businesses completely wrote off its advertising services because they simply couldn’t afford it.
Recently, however, Snapchat has been facing stiff competition from other sites like Instagram and Facebook. These sites have introduced Snapchat-style Stories and Direct Messaging features in a bid to increase their share of the platform’s audience, and also offer far more accessible and inexpensive ad options for brands. In response to this mounting competitive pressure, Snapchat made an industry-changing product announcement earlier this year: the new Snap Ad Manager.
With the introduction of Ad Manager, schools of all sizes can now realistically consider using Snapchat social media advertising for recruiting students. The platform allows advertisers to easily purchase, optimize, and manage ads and monitor their campaigns. The service completely removes the middle man, whether that was an agency or the Snapchat ad sales team, and gives schools the ability to create campaigns on their own terms.
Ad Manager is now available in 29 countries including the USA, the UK, Canada, and Australia, and should soon be accessible all over the world. In addition to Ad Manager, Snapchat also launched a Mobile Dashboard which allows advertisers to view their ads and analytics from a mobile device.
Snapchat’s Unique Ad Formats Create Opportunities for Engagement with Prospective Students
Most of Snapchat’s existing advertising formats are available on the Ad Manager platform. With several ad formats to choose from, you can select which one is best suited to your campaign goals and objectives.
One advertising format on offer is Geofilters. Fantastic for generating awareness and reach, a Geofilter is an image or graphic that Snapchatters can overlay on one of their own images or videos. Geofilters are only enabled when a user is inside certain predetermined geographical boundaries, like your school’s campus.
Example: Eastern Kentucky University has its own university Geofilter available on campus.
Current and prospective students and visitors on your campus will use Geofilters to show their friends and family where they are and what they’re doing. When users make a Snap with your Geofilter, anyone viewing their Story will see your school’s name. Because Snapchat content is known for being authentic and spontaneous, it provides prospective students a credible look at what student life is like at your school from the eyes of real people.
In today’s digital world, prospective students are coming to expect their future school to have fun Geofilters that they can use to show off their university experience. Many avid Snapchatters will even share snapshots of their best Snaps on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, which could expand your reach even more.
For schools looking for more typical social media ads for recruiting students, Snap Ads are a better choice. They can be up to ten seconds long and appear in several places across the Snapchat platform including Snapchat’s Original Shows, the Our Stories section, within Publisher Stories, and between users’ publicly available stories.
Snap Ads are no laughing matter, and have been shown to generate huge engagement. Two thirds of Snap Ads are played with audio on, which is pretty impressive when you consider 85 per cent of Facebook ads are watched without any sound.
Because ads are integrated seamlessly amongst other Snapchat content, it’s best to aim for a natural, authentic feel. This will ensure that the ads don’t stand out as overly promotional and cause viewers to skip past them.
To inspire users to take action while watching your ad, there are three add-on options you can use:
- App Install: allows you to link to an app installation page in Apple or Google’s stores
- Long-form Video: plays a longer version of your ad
- Web View: allows the user to open up a mobile webpage from your ad
The long-form Video and Web View add-ons are especially useful for education marketing. Longer videos allow you to showcase your school in more detail, and by using Web View, you can direct users to a landing page with more information and a lead capture form. These add-ons can be quite effective; according to Snapchat, users swipe up for app installs or web view 5 times more than typical click-through rates on other social media platforms.
Other existing ad formats, such as Sponsored Lenses, do still need to be purchased through the Snapchat Sales team, although this may change in the future.
Create Snap Ads In-House Using the New Snap Publisher
If you’re wondering how your school’s marketing department is going to design Snap Ads, Snapchat has you covered. In the wake of Ad Manager’s release, Snapchat announced the launch of Snap Publisher, an easy to use browser-based tool that will help you create engaging and fun ads.
When you use Snap Publisher to create and design an ad, you can import marketing material like promotional videos and images, trim horizontal videos into the standard vertical format and add motion to still photos. You can also use several pre-created themes for your ads and perform A/B tests.
Snap Publisher compliments Snap Ad Manager, allowing schools with all types of marketing budgets and staff capabilities to not only create ads, but run them without needing outside assistance or resources.
Ad Targeting Options Help Schools Reach the Right Potential Recruits
If you’re familiar with advertising on Facebook and Instagram, you’re probably already aware of their extensive targeting capabilities. Knowing that it would have to compete with well-established social media advertising platforms, Snapchat made sure to include a full suite of targeting options to maximize the impact of advertisers’ campaigns.
You can only target Geofilters by location, meaning every person within the fenced area you have determined can access and use the Geofilter. Snap Ads, on the other hand, have many other important targeting options you would expect and want.
Using Snapchat’s data, you can target users based on demographics like gender, age group, and location. You can also target based on the user’s mobile operating system, their wireless carrier, and whether they are connected to Wi-Fi or cellular data.
A more unique targeting option is Snap Lifestyle Categories. You can choose from 60 different interest categories like “Adventure Seekers” or “Do-It-Yourselfers.” These categories could prove to be extremely useful for schools looking to promote niche programs or courses. For example, if you’re advertising for a video game design program, targeting the “Console Games” group could prove to be quite fruitful.
In addition to using Snapchat’s data, you can also take advantage of your school’s own data sets by using the following targeting options:
- Snap Audience Match: Targets users based on your current email lists or mobile advertising identifiers
- Lookalike Audiences: Using your current Snap Audience Match list, targets users that have similar characteristics, like age and location, to the contacts on your list
- Snap Engagement Audiences: Targets users who have interacted with your school’s advertising previously, like using a Sponsored Geofilter or swiping up on another ad
Your school’s own data can be extremely valuable for recruiting students. If you already have comprehensive email lists of quality leads, using them as a reference group for targeting new potential recruits can help ensure that you’re reaching out to the right type of people.
Pricing Options that Fit Any School’s Social Media Advertising Budget
One of the ways that the introduction of Ad Manager is making advertising more accessible is that Snapchat has eliminated its minimum ad spend requirement. You no longer have to shell out thousands up front or pay an advertising agency to get your ads up and running. This presents a unique opportunity for schools to start dipping their toes into Snapchat advertising.
Snap Ad Manager offers two main pricing structures for Snap Ads: Cost-per-Mille (CPM) and Goal-based Bidding.
Using the CPM price structure, you can bid on ad space based on what price you’re willing to pay to have your ad displayed a thousand times. If you opt for Goal-based Bidding, you bid based on how much you’re willing to pay for someone to swipe up on your ad. You’re also charged on a CPM basis for Goal-based Bidding, but Snapchat will push your ads to users it thinks are more likely to click through to your webpage or download your app.
As for Geofilters, prices vary widely because they are priced on a case-by-case basis depending on factors like the Geofence size, date, how long it will run, and location. Some Geofilters have been known to be as inexpensive as $5.
Measuring and Analyzing Your School’s Snapchat Ad Campaign’s Success
Snap Ad Manager really is a full-service platform. Not only can you purchase and run ads, as well as design them using Snap Publisher, you can also use Ad Manager to measure their success. You can easily monitor your Snap Ad campaign’s results directly within Ad Manager. Snapchat provides reporting on the following measurements:
- Viewability: How many times and for how long your ad was viewed
- Reach: How many users saw the ad and their demographic information
- Resonance: Uses in-app polling and data from partners to assess what users think of your ad
- Reaction: Using partners, determines the impact of ads on driving action like purchases, or in a school’s case, enrollment
- Verification: How many times the ad was served
Ad Manager also provides reporting on Geofilters, which includes metrics on how many times the Geofilter was used, and how many times Snaps using your filter were viewed.
In addition to assessing your campaign’s success within the browser-based Ad Manager platform, you can also use the Mobile Dashboard. The dashboard allows you to view campaign reporting, change an ad’s status, and view and share ad creative from a mobile device. The following is an example of how campaign reporting looks in the Mobile Dashboard:
Snapchat’s new and completely self-service tool is turning the possibility of advertising on the platform into a reality for schools of all sizes. While before they were driven away by high costs, educational institutions can now experiment with advertising on the platform at a reasonable price, without having to consult outside agencies or Snapchat for help.
There’s never been a better time to start using Snapchat social ads for recruiting students. If your school is already using the platform to engage with students organically, Snapchat advertising could make an excellent addition to your current social media strategy. Snap Ads and Geofilters can be an ideal way to reach a younger demographic in a space they are familiar with in an engaging format. Advertising on Snapchat is also unique because ads appear more naturally, nestled among other content, and Brands enjoy higher ‘swipe up’ rates (compared to CTRs) and more users viewing ads with sound.
Thanks to Snap Ad Manager and Snap Publisher, you can now execute your advertising campaigns from start to finish with ease.