Digital advertisers should take a page from Snapchat’s playbook

Ads can be a natural extension of the experience.

This article was originally published on Recode on July 14, 2016

Hyper-Reality — an extreme version of what Snapchat offers now — presents a vision of the future where physical and virtual realities have merged, and the city is saturated in media. — Kelichi Matsuda/Vimeo

Aren’t TV and YouTube ads the worst? Jarring, loud interruptions that ignore the media around them. They’re never in the same aesthetic tone and lack relevance to the programming they accompany. Sure, they can be muted, skipped over, theoretically ignored, but at the end of the day, they remain an annoyance.

Is this how the brands will be remembered? The loud, drunk uncle at Christmas dinner?

Web or in-app ads are even worse. The screens are often an unreadable, inconsistent, layered tangle of ads. Somebody locked human nature out of the room when these standards were designed. This shoddy execution has been allowed to take over in the name of efficiency.

“Consumers have been at the mercy of others when it comes to television. The shows and movies they want to watch are subject to business models they do not understand and do not care about. All they know is frustration.” — Ted Sarandos, chief content officer, Netflix

Ad tech has been about a precise machine, never about a natural extension of the “supported” stories. Most online ads are unrelated, out of place, minimally targeted and disruptive to the point of pure avoidance. Marketers are crazy to buy in.

Ads are just part of the show

But on Snapchat, ads are a natural extension of the experience, not insulting or intrusive, so far. The ads follow the aesthetics of the medium. It’s a natural “next” to what you’re already watching on Snapchat. They’re actively visual and … more