On Monday, Snap introduced a new ad offering titled “First Commercial,” which lets brands be the first commercial any user sees within the first Snap show they watch on a given day. So, if on a given day one person opens a scripted Snap Original show first, while another tunes into the app’s NBC News program as their first show of the day, both will be served the same ad before seeing any other commercial.

Snapchat Daily Active Users



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The unskippable ads are a minimum of 6 seconds a piece, and the buy lasts 24 hours, creating the potential for substantial scale with one purchase. The format will be sold directly for now, but Snap plans to sell it programmatically in the future. The announcement is the latest video ad innovation following Snapchat’s acquisition of former Hulu SVP and head of ad sales Peter Naylor two weeks ago.

Snapchat’s premium video content — including its popular Originals — has seen robust audience growth during the pandemic, and now Snap is making it easier for advertisers to take advantage. According to Snap’s Q1 2020 earnings announcement, the total daily time Snapchatters spent watching its shows more than doubled compared with Q1 2019.

In absolute terms, that means over 60 different shows reached a monthly audience of over 10 million viewers, up from 50 shows in Q4 2019. Even its most recent addition, “Will From Home” a new show hosted by a quarantined Will Smith, has seen over 15 million viewers in its first three episodes. For Snap, the new ad format provides a way for brands — who are almost certainly operating with more limited budgets — to maximize their reach across Snapchat’s supply of premium inventory at a time when consumer interest in the content is spiking.

And to further accelerate brand investment, Snap is also launching a Vertical Video Conversion tool to help advertisers seamlessly convert horizontal assets into a vertical format — a historical sticking point for some advertisers.  

For digital marketers, here are two more specific ways to think about the opportunity First Commercial presents:

  • The format offers a brand-safe placement with limited distractions. A non-skippable ad placed before premium inventory presents an attractive opportunity to marketers looking to limit their budget to high-quality inventory during the pandemic. Concerns about brand safety have persuaded some brands to avoid the platform in the past, but premium options like First Commercial should ease those concerns. 
  • First Commercial presents a way to directly reach a large group of young people. Snapchat, almost since its inception, has presented an efficient means for marketers to reach younger demographics. According to  internal figures shared with Business Insider Intelligence, Snap continues to reach more than 90% of 13- to 24- year olds and more than 75% of 13- to 34- year-olds in the US. And in international markets including the UK, France, Canada, and Australia, Snapchat reaches more than 80% of 13- to 24- years olds and 60% of 13-34 year olds. That’s a compelling value prop for video advertisers, as younger people are more likely to be cord-cutters or cord-nevers, and harder to reach through traditional TV as a result. The new format will only make Snap even more attractive to this group.

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