How to advertise on Snapchat

There is no debating that Snapchat can be seen as one of the underdogs with less popularity compared to Instagram and Facebook, you may even think there is no need for it, especially for marketing and advertising.

I’m here to tell you, you couldn’t be more wrong! With approximately 538 million daily uses, Snapchat is a very powerful marketing tool for businesses, helping to drive traffic, increase engagement, generate leads and conversions. It is projected that by 2027 social commerce will drive $604 Billion in sales.

Therefore, if you consider all that Snapchat can offer for advertisers from Snapchat Ads, Story Ads, Geo- flitters, AR Lenses and more recently Screenshop, the platform can provide a unique B2C experience that can be very adventurous for businesses looking to advertise their products.

When mentioning the benefits of using Snapchat to advertise, we have to pay a quick tribute to the growing success of social commerce, especially in recent years. The pandemic has helped propel the number of online purchases through social media platforms, in fact in 2020 about 87% of online shoppers say social media networks affect their purchase decision.

Snapchat is reaping these benefits and enabling other businesses too.

Difference between social commerce and ecommerce

So you’re intrigued and want to see how you can leverage Snapchat Ads for your business? This blog will help explore the different advertising routes you can take, so you can start snapping right away.

  1. Snapchat Ad Formats
    • Snap Ads
    • Filters
    • AR Lenses
    • Story Ads
    • Collection Ads
    • Commercials
  2. How to set up an account
  3. Summary

Snapchat ad formats

Snap Ads

We first begin with Snapchat ads, the most commonly used ad format ,starting at $5 (~ £4). The ads are formatted as 3-10 seconds, full screen, vertical video/ picture/ gif, which appears in between other stories.

To give a clearer picture, imagine a rotisserie wheel, where each skewer represents a user’s friends story and sandwiched in between them lies Snapchat ads.

Snap Ads visual layout

The ads appear as a seamless and smooth transition from snaps, allowing advertisements to not appear intrusive and unwanted, especially for the 75 % Millennial and Gen Z’s audience Snapchat caters to, who are more likely to disengage with marketing content.

As Snapchat is aware that users go on the platform to engage and interact with their friends and not to be roped into buying products, they help optimise your ads by putting them in front of a tailored specific audience unique to your business, product or service by using Custom Audiences

This ensures that content that deviates from friends’ stories is still engaging and useful for users.

How to advertise to different generations

Hopper, an airline booking app that helps users book flights based on best- time to fly stats and price, used Snapchat Custom Audience to target audiences from specific geographical locations and radius to engage with their 3-10 second image ads.

The campaign succeeded not only in gaining more traction from younger audiences but also in receiving a 37% increase in users more likely to watch a route through the app. The rate of booking from those watchers was 4x as high as Hopper’s other primary acquisition channels, subsequently decreasing their CPI (cost per install) by 50%.

When creating this type of ad, Snapchat list specific requirements and must-haves to include, such as:

  • A 1080 x 1920 px JPEG or PNG image or a photo to be converted into video conversion

  • A headline, up to 34 characters

  • A brand name, up to 25 characters

  • Attachments, if you’re optimising for a swipe up

This list is extensive, so we recommend checking the Snapchat website for the comprehensive list of requirements and restrictions before creating your ad.


Snapchat ad space is famous for its creativity and innovative ideas. It offers a new kind of shopping experience, one that is immersive and uses the latest technology, which Snapchat filters champion. Described as artistic overlays that appear when you take a Snap and swipe left or right, Snapchat filters have become highly lucrative and worthy of investing in. Filters are seen by an estimated 40-60% of users daily, which, with the platform’s 528 million users, is around 215- 323 million users.

That a lot of people you could be exposing your business to and with the option of using Geo-Filter you can continue to reach a wider audience, with a more specific target or goal. These filters target audiences by proximity and location, allowing users nearby to use them. This ad form is particularly great in creating brand awareness. So if you’re a small business looking to get your name out there, Geo-Filters are the way to go.

Snapchat Filter Ads visual layout

One of the biggest benefits of using Snapchat Filters and Lenses (which we will touch on) is their share-ability. Let’s paint the picture, you’re a small cake business that has recently started trading and looking to build traction and brand awareness.

By setting up a Geo-Filter Ads you can reach the audiences who are near the cake store and as users attach your filter to their story, they are sharing and promoting your business to their friends and building more awareness of your brand. The user’s decision to interact with your brand by sharing opens you up to even more people, in and outside your location targets, growing your small business more and more with every snap.

In 2018 Coca-Cola ran a Snapchat Geo-Filter in light of promoting Belgium vs Brazil Quarter Final World Cup game. The ad was displayed as a national filter in Belgium to help create a buzz and support for the national team. The ad was successful in reaching over 1.2 million users and achieving an amazing share rate of 11.4% and helped create an incredible atmosphere across the country, which was amplified when Belgians won the game.

By using Snapchat, Coca-Cola was able to connect with Belgian teens & young adults through a fun and engaging filter. As it was also shared by local influencers, the filter obtained great results in terms of reach and doubled the average benchmark of share-ability.
Céline van den Rijn, Marketing Director, Coca-Cola Belgium

We recommend going through Snapchat’s Filter Creative Best Particles list for the comprehensive list of what to include for creating filter ads.

  • 1080 x 2340 px image PNG with transparent background

  • Sized 300 KB or less

  • 210px buffer zone for header and footer for larger phones

  • 74px for the send arrow

  • 32px for the “sponsored” designation

  • Orientated Portrait

  • occupy less than 25% of the screen

AR Lenses

In a world flooded with advertisements, AR Lenses enables brands to have their ads seen by placing them directly on the faces of their audience. Encompassing the same foundations as Filter; Lenses enables you with one tap, to invite Snapchatters into your world and your story. They are two lenses Snapchat offers.

Snapchat AR lenses visual layout

1. Advertising with Face Lenses

Uses the front-facing camera and augments users’ faces and bodies to look like a particular product or things a business is wanting to promote.

Taco Bell, for example, launched a sponsored lens campaign that turned users’ heads into giant tacos, in celebration of Cinco de Mayo. Yep, you read the right! A giant Taco!

As strange as that sounds it was highly effective, as the lens made history, hitting a record of 224 million views in one day.

Best Practices for Snapchat Face Lenses

  • Keep it simple

  • Consider interactive elements

  • Focus on your goal: Product, character, experience

  • Include music and/or sound FX

  • For story posts consider: Beautiful, animals, celebrities, makeup, face paint, and trendy accessories

  • For 1-to-1 snaps consider: Silly, weird, ugly, scary

Taco Bell Snapchat Filter Ads campaign

2. Advertising with World Lenses

Uses the back-facing camera and turns your soundings into the desired effects and worlds of the business. This lease can even go as far as to put computer-generated objects in front of you and display it as real. Talk about an immersive experience!

Best Practices for Snapchat World Lenses

  • Focus on product, character, experience

  • Consider interactive elements

  • Fun, silly, experiential works well

  • Consider music and/or sound effects

  • Add animation if possible

  • Try avoiding static 3D objects

Gucci Lenses Ads Campaign

Story Ads

If you’re looking to advertise several products and services, Story Ads might be your best bet. Located in the Snapchat Discover section in the rotisserie wheel of other snaps, the ad format allows you to display a collection of 3-20 branded images or videos, this is particularly effective for clothing brands and businesses wanting to display a catalogue of products and services all in one ad. These ads help businesses post narratives that directly relate to their products, increasing brand awareness by embracing the platform’s visual telling nature.

Snap Story Ads layout

The specifications for this ad format includes:

  • 1080 -1920 px: .jpg, .png, .mp4, or .mov

  • Aspect ratio: 9:16

  • Resolution: 1080px x 1920px

  • Length: 3-180 seconds

  • Attachments: Website, app, long form video or Lens

Brand, headline, and calls-to-action

  • Brand: Up to 25 characters with spaces

  • Headline: Up to 34 characters with spaces

  • Call-to-action: Select the CTA text. Snapchat applies the visual and places the CTA on the ad

Tile asset deliverables for Discover section

  • Logo:

    • File type: .png

    • Resolution: 993px x 284px

  • Image:

    • File type: .png

    • Resolution: 360px x 600px

  • Story title: Up to 55 characters with spaces

Snapchat Story Ads Example


Collection ads follow a similar format, but centre more on directing users to social commerce sites, as with collection ads users can view different products at the bottom of the screen and make a purchase.

How social commerce can leverage e-commerce

This is a very effective way of increasing traffic to your website, as the motion of looking at an ad, clicking on the product and swiping up can happen in a matter of seconds, which from there you can fully expose your businesses.

Companies such as eBay saw a 5x higher engagement rate, especially compared to their standard Snap Ads, when they ran collection ads.

Snapchat collections Ads example


Commercial ads are exactly that, full screen, unskippable ads, which advertise a product and a business. They can last from 3 to 180 seconds depending on the commercial type, but this is not our first marketing rodeo, so I won’t bore you with the details.

However, it’s worth quickly drawing on the effectiveness of commercial ads on Snapchat. Bacardi for example wanted to reconnect its younger audience and target Millennials and Gen X and ran commercials on Snapchat in Germany. The company incorporated several ad forms, combining lenses, story ad and commercials to run different ads.

These were successful in reaching over 2.5 Million users within its first 10 weeks. Overall, the commercial increased Bacardi’s purchase intent and met their marketing goal of interacting with a younger audience.

Although, commercial ads seem like a risky advertising method due to the lack of visibility and engagement often attached to them. However, when you consider running ads on an app that’s opened approximately 20 times a day on a device that is used every day, running commercials ad campaigns seem like the obvious and lucrative choice.

Setting up a Snapchat Ads Account

So you have all your options and what to begin advertising on Snapchat. Firstly you have to create an Ads manager account which is the central place to run ads and track ads success. These steps are quick and easy, and you can start advertising within minutes.

  1. Sign up for a business Snapchat account
  2. Log into Ads Manager with your Business login details
  3. Select your Business type from Agency, Brand, Small Business or Creator
  4.  From here you can select to either create: an Ad, Ad account, Public profile, or Campaign.


Snapchat is a dynamic platform that can be leveraged in different ways and is one of the few social media platforms that require interaction from its users, for it to be used, which allows it to be one of the few platforms which delivers outstanding engagement. The Beauty of this is that you can pick and choose which Ad type fits your business and marketing goals,, or you can run multiple ones at a time, like a Bacardi’s  ad campaign. The world is your oyster when it comes to Snapchat ads! Don’t be afraid, just jump right in.

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