Snapchat boss wants his messaging app to make money without being ‘creepy’

With nearly 100 million active users and an IPO on the horizon, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel must surely be feeling as confident as ever that the startup he co-founded four years ago is going places.

Speaking on stage at an international ad festival in Cannes this week, the man behind the ephemeral messaging app covered a wide range of subjects, though he was there primarily to highlight the app’s ad platform.

Addressing the audience, he said the Snapchat team “really care about not being creepy” when it comes to incorporating ad features geared toward monetizing the cross-platform mobile app.

Intent on convincing top marketing executives at the event that advertising on Snapchat would be money well spent, Spiegel focused on differences between his own app and other social media offerings, Business Insider reported.

For example, the CEO is clearly happy with the app’s vertical video ads, feeling no pressure or necessity to switch to horizontal videos as seen on many other mobile offerings. In addition, his team set up the video ads to slot into curated Live Stories – montages of images and videos submitted by Snapchat users from a single high-profile event such as a festival – rather than have them kick in before the main content. “Pre-rolls are really annoying because it gets in the way of the content you want to watch,” Spiegel says.

Also, Snapchat’s video ads are geared more toward context than targeting, meaning they’ll fit closely with the content of a Live Story. According to Spiegel, it’s this focus on context-based video advertising, rather than targeting with the help of user data, that should help Snapchat avoid creeping out its user base.

The 25-year-old CEO made similar points in a new video (below) launched Monday. Displaying production values marginally better than those exhibited in the curious effort he posted last week, Spiegel talks about Snapchat’s 3V – vertical video views – approach to ads.

“Vertical because it’s made for mobile, video because that’s the best way to tell a story, and views because they’re always full screen,” Spiegel says.

Clearly still enjoying his role leading the startup, Spiegel told the Cannes audience that at Snapchat “we do stuff that’s kind of hippy,” explaining how each week workers gather in groups of 10 to “talk about how we feel about things.”

“The point is to emphasize the importance of listening,” he said, adding, “I don’t think we pay attention enough to just listening to people and how they feel. I know sometimes I’m so focused on what I’m going to say next, that I’m not listening to what they’re saying….I’m trying to get better.”

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