Snapchat will begin testing a new six-second unskippable video ad format it is calling “Commercials” that will run during a select number of the platform’s Shows — the TV-like videos it rolled out last year featuring premium content produced by networks and entertainment studios.
The test will begin mid-May, according to a report from Digiday. Snapchat hasn’t shared any further details as to which advertisers will be part of the beta group taking advantage of the new video ad format or the Shows that will include the Commercials.
Snapchat has been steadily building up its ad options this year. In January, the company updated its app-install ads and gave advertisers deeper analytics around their app-install campaigns. A month later, it opened its automated ad-buying platform to all advertisers. Last month, the company launched new location-targeting tools for advertisers, and just last week, it announced Shoppable AR Lenses.
The six-second Commercials are a departure from Snapchat’s usual ad model that allows users to skip past ads. Now, with the introduction of Commercials, users will have to watch the six-second video ad if they want to watch a full episode of the Show where the ad has been placed. Featured in the Discover section of the site, along with Publisher Stories and Our Stories (compilations of Snaps from users that are curated by the platform), Snapchat’s Shows are usually three- to five- minute videos that run the gamut of formats, from animated content and documentaries to scripted dramas and comedies.
A report from MediaRadar in March revealed fewer than 400 brands ran video ads on Snapchat between November 2017 and January of this year. Even more problematic is a survey conducted by Fluent in February 2017 that found 50 percent of Snapchat users age 18 to 24 always skipped Snapchat ads, and only 9.4 percent of all Snapchat users surveyed claimed to never skip ads on the platform.
Whether or not Snapchat’s Commercials pay off will depend on the strength of the platform’s Shows content — a move that appears to put a lot of pressure on a fairly new content opportunity that is still finding its audience.