Snapchat founder and boss Evan Spiegel confirmed Wednesday that the popular messaging app will introduce ads shortly as the startup looks to begin monetizing the service. Rumors that the app was planning to include ads first surfaced over the summer.
Speaking at this week’s Vanity Fair New Establishment summit in San Francisco, Spiegel didn’t give an exact date for when the first ads would land on the ephemeral messaging app, saying only that they’re coming “soon.”
Bringing ads to popular apps is always a balancing act between pleasing marketers and keeping the users on side. Too many ads and there could be a backlash, while too few means little revenue. Out-of-the-way placement, on the other hand, will see advertisers quickly lose interest.
As far as Snapchat goes, Spiegel said ads will land first in its Stories feature, which the company launched last year. This lets users build and share a stream of photos and videos of what they’ve been up to. In keeping with the ephemeral nature of the app, added media disappears after 24 hours. Advertisers will pay to have their messages slipped in among this content, though Spiegel said ads would not be targeted according to a user’s profile.
More recently, Snapchat launched Our Story, a feature that lets any user at a particular event or gathering post snaps or photos to a single stream. This could attract advertisers interested in the attendees of a particular type of event, though the fact that the Our Story feature is geo-fenced would mean a limited audience for the advertisers’ content.
Snapchat, which launched in 2011, allows users to send messages that only show for a few seconds before disappearing. Its popularity among smartphone users has led to the launch of a ton of similar apps, including ones from big-name firms like Facebook (Slingshot) and Instagram (Bolt).
With a fast-growing fan base that currently stands at around 100 million monthly active users, it’s little surprise Facebook put in a multi-billion-dollar offer for the company nearly a year ago, though Spiegel rejected it in favor of remaining independent.
The 24-year-old Stanford University graduate has also had to deal with interest from the likes of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, and only a few days ago it was reported that Yahoo could be about to invest $20 million in the startup.