Mobile video has been something of a theme for 2015, with a number of carriers announcing plans to develop their own in-house video services in order to provide a platform so as to sell products and services to customers, which of course includes larger monthly data allowances. YouTube has been the primary mobile video application and service although Facebook has made strong inroads during 2015. Twitter, which has the Vine six second video service, plus Periscope, is also interested in the video service – witness the recent Twitter Moments feature. However, whilst Twitter is one of the rest of the pack behind YouTube and Facebook, relative newcomer Snapchat is snapping away at Twitter's heels.
In terms of numbers, Snapchat is still relatively small with around 100 million monthly active users, compared with Twitter's 320 million monthly active users. However, Snapchat has been able to push into the mobile digital video advertising stream in a way that Twitter, and many other, social applications have not been able to manage. Snapchat has, admittedly, changed how it offers mobile video advertising several times during 2015, but this shows the business is not afraid to try different things in order to expand business. The current Snapchat offerings, which revolves around mobile digital video and according to one ad buyer, is "very exciting." Snapchat has only been selling adverts for a little over a year, as it launched the advertising business in October 2014. It has yet to prove that the new way of selling video advertising will work, or if it works that it can be scalable and profitable, but according to Jessica Lessin, founder and editor of The Information, the business could go public before other technology businesses such as Uber, Airbnb or Dropbox.
Snapchat does have its work cut out. Last summer, ad executives criticized the Snapchat ad experience as being frustrating as there was inadequate supply available and Snapchat did not provide enough data and case study feedback. However, we've seen reports that Snapchat is working on providing businesses with the sort of detail they require for application advertising. It still has some way to go before it can duplicate the level of information available from the larger social networks (typically, Facebook and Twitter), but Snapchat has been shoring up its internal information management departments in a move that the source website believes is designed to improve the quality of information provided to potential and existing advertiser clients. We've seen Snapchat revealing more targeting options (such as age groups, device type, location and context) plus new product ideas such as sponsored lenses and 3V, which stands for "vertical, video, views." It's the video of these three that has advertising buyers interested and Twitter, which has yet to define their video story, is potentially at risk of struggling to differentiate their mobile video products. Snapchat's advertising revenue is considerably smaller than Twitter, but the business is smaller and has proven able and willing to rapidly change its offering to suit the market.
2016 will be an interesting year from the context of watching how mobile video becomes more and more prominent. YouTube and Facebook are seeing increasing spend into their video advertising, Twitter is also experiencing growth but Snapchat is learning from dipping a toe into the market and watching the larger competitors in the business.