After months of speculation, SnapChat has finally launched the first ad on the chat app, featuring a 20-second ad for new horror film ‘Ouija’- amid complaints that its ‘scaring’ users.
Universal Pictures has become the first company to distribute an advertisement on Snapchat, using the social-media app to promote “Ouija” over the weekend.
A 20-second trailer for the upcoming horror film based on Hasbro Studio’s boardgame appeared in the “Recent Updates” section of users’ accounts on the app, with a sponsored icon.
The ad disappears after it’s viewed or within 24 hours. It’s unclear how much Universal paid for the plug.
As with any update, users choose whether to view the video or photos, but many of those who did took to Twitter to talk about the video — some approving what they saw, while others were irritated by the promo that suddenly appeared on their accounts.
Snapchat, however, has said sponsored ads were coming to its 100 million users.
“We need to make money,” Snapchat put it simply in a company blog post. “Advertising allows us to support our service while delivering neat content to Snapchatters. It’s going to feel a little weird at first, but we’re taking the plunge.”
With “Ouija,” it wanted “to see if we can deliver an experience that’s fun and informative, the way ads used to be, before they got creepy and targeted,” it said.
“Ouija,” co-produced by Hasbro Studios, Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Prods. and Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes,” is out in theaters Oct. 24.
The move by Universal to use Snapchat is a clever way to reach out to the teen and tween audience the film is targeting with its PG-13 scares, as Hasbro looks to launch another film franchise, after “Transformers” and “G.I. Joe.”
In December 2013, Snapchat poached Emily White, the executive responsible for bringing adverts to Instagram, to become its chief operating officer.
Snapchat has been growing fast in the last couple of years, with the Wall Street Journal reporting in August that Snapchat had more than 100m monthly active users, with around two thirds of them using it every day.
The company was valued at $10bn in its last funding round, despite its lack of revenues. It famously turned down a $3bn acquisition offer from Facebook in 2013 in favour of remaining independent.
Snapchat’s appeal to internet giant and brands alike is its popularity among teenagers and twentysomethings. In August, research firm comScore claimed that 32.9% of 18-34 year-olds in the US were using the app, but this was closer to 50% for 18-24 year-olds.
Other studios also have jumped at the chance to be the first to experiment with social media platforms in order to get their ads in front of young audiences. Late last year, Lionsgate was first to buy an autoplay video ad on Facebook to promote “Divergent.”
Universal also took its marketing campaign for “Ouija” to YouTube, producing a stunt with Thinkmodo, in which a medium frightens unsuspecting visitors sending them running from the room.
Overall, the “Ouija” promo with Fullscreen generated more than 5.6 million video views, 17.3 million hashtag impressions and 510,000 social engagements, Universal said.
View this video examining the deal here: