7 Days of 7 Snapchat Ads


02 Nov 2017

7 Days of 7 Snapchat Ads

Every day we have conversations with our university clients over campaign reach, engagement, conversions, cost per clicks and return on advertising spend.   We all rely on these metrics to tell us whether what we are doing is working or whether the campaign is meeting the agreed objectives.

But these metrics only tell half the story. We might be buying and delivering a number of fantastic campaigns for our clients, but unless we are the target market (and I’m afraid we’re not..) the bit that is missing is the experience and understanding of what it’s like to receive them.

We know that over 84% of UK teens are active users on Snapchat[1] and it’s also the most frequently used app in this group.  So it’s an obvious platform to use for paid activity.  To discover what it’s like to be on the receiving end of ads on the platform in a typical week, we asked a Year 12 student to capture any adverts that they saw over a period of 7 days.  We ignored the music, make-up and other consumer brands that were competing for attention and focused just on the university ones.  Have a look for yourself:



What did we learn?

i) Timing and Messaging Need to Match

Our Year 12 has only just started A levels, so is still very early in their decision making. Going to university is just one option at this point, higher apprenticeships and other routes are still possibilities and their awareness of different universities is pretty limited. So it’s interesting that Staffordshire, Hull and Canterbury are all focused on open days as the call to action, when that step is probably some way off for our Year 12 student. It’s too early for that to be the main message. Greenwich and Portsmouth strike a better balance; both are sharing stories of students and their journeys, recognising that the audience need to be convinced first of all that university is a good option. Greenwich includes a small Open Day text reference, but their key message about transformation and inspiration is much more appropriate for this audience at this time of year.

ii) Say Something

There’s lots of ways that these adverts say something; the music, images, copy, pace, colours, the featured students, they all communicate something about the brand.  But when competition is fierce between universities and differentiation is already challenging, it’s important to have something to say.  So (with apologies to Canterbury) a message such as ‘discover why Canterbury is a great place” isn’t enough.  It doesn’t tell the audience anything and in fact relies on them to do the work - and we know this is unlikely to happen.  The other ads here focus on transforming lives (Greenwich, Hull), investment in facilities (Staffs) or simply a place where everyone can build their own story (Portsmouth).  Whatever fits with your strategy, pick something and say it.

iii) Once is not enough

Interesting that of the 7 university ads seen in 7 days, 3 of them were from one university.  But this wasn’t a case of the same advert being repeated; instead, our Year 12 student has seen 3 different versions of the career transformation that can take place at Greenwich.  Each is clearly themed and identifiable as being part of the same campaign, but as a suite of content, they are delivering variety in the student stories and ambitions but also have simply been more visible.



[1] https://www.statista.com/statistics/321076/leading-snapchat-market-teens/


Rachel Killian - Lead Client Partner - Education