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What does the media industry need to hear from Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel?

18 June 2015
What does the media industry need to hear from Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel?

Yachts, parties and Sir Martin Sorrell in shorts: it’s that time of the year again when advertising execs from around the world descend upon the French Riviera for the Cannes Lions Festival.

This year’s line-up includes the likes of actor Norman Reedus from AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’, Tinder founder Sean Rad and global star artist Pharrell Williams. Aside from the impressive star-studded line-up, one other name on the list to have caused quite a stir is that of 25-year-old Snapchat chief executive Evan Spiegel.

Despite the app now being valued at around $19bn, Spiegel has generally managed to stay out of the media spotlight, until now. We asked several industry leaders what they hope to hear from him at this year’s festival to be convinced that Snapchat has what it takes to challenge the likes of Facebook and Google.

Damien Marchi, global head of content, Havas Media Group


There is no need to prove Snapchat’s relevance and reach to millennials anymore, especially in the US market. What is for me, even more interesting, is Snapchat’s relation to content, which can be summarised through two key moments:

Firstly, early in 2015, Snapchat became a media in its own right, almost overnight, thanks to the launch of Snapchat Discover that pushes a selection of content everyday to users.

Secondly, they hired a head of content – which makes them to my knowledge the first social group to do so.

Having made that jump from being a ‘messaging tool’ to being a ‘media’ platform, it puts Snapchat in a very unique category. For Havas Media Group this opens up wider reaching and more interesting media and content solutions for our clients, beyond the regular display inventory and user targeting abilities.

Alan King, head of digital, Mediabrands UK and International


Ad Tech has crashed the Cannes party for the past couple of years. The ‘Festival of Creativity‘ has become the ‘Festival of Programmatic Tech’ in many eyes.

Evan Spiegel taking centre stage shows an appetite to shift the emphasis back to creativity. Ad tech advancements are reshaping the ad business but no one puts their plumbing front of house.

The topics making up most media meeting agendas nowadays are: Mobile, Millennials, Ad Viewability, Ad Fraud, Online Video, Ad Blocking & the stranglehold of Facebook & Google. In this context Snapchat’s evolved ad offering could be the panacea.

The big hurdle is that Snapchat will not play the data game. I attended a meeting last year with a Snapchat exec who was asked within two minutes by an agency guy when he could have the data. “Not a chance!” was the answer. Snapchat is the antidote to the indelible, trackable and retargeting obsessed ad world.

Spiegel is an uncompromising CEO with a vision; believing no one should be the sum of their published digital content (he has just deleted all of his own Tweets). Snapchat allows people to connect in a natural and human way through ephemeral video/images/text and his plan for brands will be the same. Who will win? The CEO with a couple of hundred million hard to reach people and a vision for the next stage of digital engagement or the data obsessed ad world?

At Cannes he will unveil some huge audience numbers, go into detail about the engagement Snapchat’s video product has produced for brands and expand on the geotagging opportunities that McDonald’s have been first to test.

For Snapchat it is not about data, it’s about putting creative messages in front of engaged audiences. The Discover product has been likened to a TV product for the modern age and perhaps it is.

Stefan Bardega, chief digital officer, ZenithOptimedia


Snapchat has built a very commercially attractive and active user base. The ephemerality of the content (messages that last up to 10 seconds before digital expiration) makes it an extremely interesting platform for branded content and advertising products. This seems contradictory at first but actually is the key point of their future monetisation strategy. Snapchat is a platform that can offer native ad products that are 100% viewable by design. In an industry currently plagued by viewability issues this is very compelling to advertisers. So what I would like to hear is how Snapchat plans to build an ad products portfolio that guarantees advertisers 100% viewablility, and do it in a way that creates a genuine value exchange with the user base and advertisers/marketers.

Gian LaVecchia, managing partner, digital content marketing lead, MEC North America


Overall, I'm genuinely energized about the long-term potential of Snapchat as a content platform as it's clearly evolved its ambitions beyond social media and has already had a transformative effect on modern media culture. Its marketing proposition is exceptionally attractive to brands as it combines global audience scale, depth of engagement and a clear commitment to preserve its authenticity and cultural relevance for its users.

That said, the advertising proposition still requires some refinement and I'm optimistic we'll gain some better insight into how those product solutions will evolve in the near future – specifically audience insights and behavioural transparency; elevated sales and marketing narrative; and expanded portfolio of native ad solutions.

Laura Bracher, London

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