Snapchat’s New Ads Are Going to Drive Me Crazy, But I’ll Still Watch Them

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Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Earlier this week, Snapchat announced the company is making some major changes to its advertising strategy. Now, ads will pop up between your friends’ stories. (If you’re not a regular Snapchatter or a teen, stories are a series of snaps that live for 24 hours on the app and are visible to a user’s friends.)

This comes after an app update that changed the way content from publishers and brands is accessed on the platform. Those stories were redesigned to appear with images and headlines to make them more enticing to viewers.

While there won’t be an ad between every one of your friend’s stories (Snapchat wants to build revenue, not drive people screaming from the platform), the ads are coming and you’re probably going to notice them. (Though Snapchat is likely banking on you not noticing them too much.) Advertisers are going to be able to enhance their ads, which means you’ll also be able to swipe up on any given ad and it will install an app for a brand or direct you to a longer video, website, or instant article, like a fun, revenue-driven rabbit hole.

Snapchat also announced changes to its application programming interface, or API, which will let companies purchase campaigns without having to work out an individual deal with Snapchat. All ads are going to be reviewed for quality and Snapchat is currently recommending a select group of creative firms and ad-tech companies to help brands design optimal snaps.

The changes, like many of Snapchat’s past advertising updates, are smart. (Reminder: This is a company that got millions of people to gleefully turn themselves into walking, talking Taco Bell billboards without so much as batting a hot-sauce covered eyelash.) Not to mention, if they work, the new ad partnerships and the revenue they generate will leave the 4-year-old company ripe for an IPO we all know is maybe/probably/likely coming.

A large part of what Snapchat does so well with advertising is capitalize on blending user-generated and sponsored content, like the update earlier this June which allowed users to subscribe to their favorite branded stories. (If a user subscribes, the branded stories appear in their feed beneath stories from their friends, in addition to appearing in their standard spot at the top of the user feed.)

Anybody who has ever watched a video online will tell you, ads can be a pain. But they are also a necessary, um, evil, that let you watch your content for “free.” The key difference between an ad before a Snapchat story and an ad on, say, a YouTube video of a corgi being vacuumed, is that since the content waiting on the other side of that ad was generated by a friend of mine, I’m less likely to say “screw it” at the thought of watching a Pantene shampoo spot before getting to what I want to see. (Like a 30-second-long series of selfies from a friend using the puppy filter to make himself look hotter. I’m onto your tricks, puppy filter.)

Will I complain about Snapchat’s new ads? Probably. But will I keep watching? Yes.