Snapchat, the mobile chat application for millennial sharing of dick pics, is ready to grow up now, thank you very much. That apparently means less sexting and more direct advertising... just don't ask what kind of advertising or how it will make any money.
During a wide-ranging keynote interview at the Cannes advertising festival on Monday, a confident and thoughtful Mr. Spiegel noted that Snapchat was fortunate, in that the company built its ad business after so many other social platforms and Web publishers had already made a lot of mistakes.
The 25-year-old CEO of a$15 billion startup with no public monetization plan did not waste the opportunity to try and sound wise in front of an audience ripe with advertising dollars. He did however make it very clear that the modern era of advertising - in which mobile users are targeted by advertisers who use their browsing history to send them certain ads - is objectively creepy.
Among the examples of ad tactics and formats Mr. Spiegel gently criticized were banners that follow people around the Web after they shop for products, video ads shot for horizontal mobile screens that require people to rotate their phones, and re-purposed desktop ads shoved onto mobile devices.
For Spiegel, who is not-so-secretly planning an IPO and looking for ways to prove Snapchat can make money, the way to differentiate himself is to talk about how painfully hip Snapchat is in comparison to the old farts at Facebook.
The executive tried to draw a difference between Snapchat and Facebook — in reality and in trying to define what types of ads he might be looking to attract — saying Snapchat is an expression of how its users see themselves each day, rather than “a repository for collecting memories.”
But Spiegel did make the ultimate young tech executive move by completing his appearance without saying anything of real substance of what Snapchat will do about advertising, only what it wouldn't.
As was evident from his thoughts on the state of online ads, lots of data-driven ad re-targeting is probably not in Snapchat’s future, which may not be music to the ears of the dozens of ad tech firms that have descended on Cannes this week. Reiterating his more recent pledges about not going to far in targeting, Mr. Spiegel said, “We really care about not being creepy,” he said. “That’s really important to us.”
So important, apparently, that he's willing to piss off advertisers without offering them an alternative way to engage monetarily with Snapchat.
But, he did say sh*t like this.
“If were everyone were to advertise effectively then advertising wouldn’t be effective.”
Now that's some grown-up thinking.