eCommerce Marketing

How Do Snapchat Ads Work? - The Guide

June 29, 2023
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So you’re an eCommerce brand who wants to break through to the 18 to 24 year old age group. You’ve come to the right place. 

There’s no doubt over whether Snapchat ads are worth it with 186 million people using Snapchat every day, generating over 3 billion snaps per day as snap streaks and new filters keep users coming back.

As always when it comes to maximising your social media ads, it comes down to great execution; from choosing an ad manager to measuring your ad metrics to improve long-term performance. 

Snapchat ads work in five main steps:

  1. Choose your ad manager
  2. Set your campaign goals
  3. Choose your snapchat ad format
  4. Set your budget
  5. Measure performance and improve

This guide will now explore those five main steps in more detail to help you get the most out of your Snapchat ads campaign.

1. Choose your ad manager

Now the options here for eCommerce brands are pretty slim but honestly, both options offer a great ad management experience. In 2019, Snapchat announced its partnership with Shopify to bring an advertising tool designed for small businesses.

This means you can now choose from two options when it comes to ad managers:

  1. Snapchat ads manager
  2. Snapchat Ads app for Shopify

It goes without saying that if you are one of the 1.75 million sellers using Shopify then connecting the Snapchat Ads app to your Shopify store is the way to go.

The benefits of using the Snapchat Ads Shopify app include:

  • Deploying a Snap pixel smoothly and easily
  • Syncing your products seamlessly
  • Having the ability to run ad campaign from your marketing tab

Snapchat Ads has already been hailed for its smooth and enjoyable interface when building an ad campaign, so synchronising this experience with Shopify only makes it a better choice as your ad manager.

You can find more information on the app below.

2. Set your campaign goals

Similarly to that of Facebook Ad Manager and Youtube Ads, Snapchat offers four main campaign goals to choose from that you can build your campaigns around. 

These campaign goals include:

  • Brand awareness and video views
  • Web views and conversion
  • Lead generation
  • App install and engagement.

Brand awareness and video views

Known as the simplest method of advertising on Snapchat as there is no call-to-action required, a brand awareness campaign is all about getting viewers engrossed in your video and watching as much of the content as possible. This is where using an eCommerce video ad service could help.

Though as easy as brand awareness campaigns are, that also makes them common to cause ad fatigue - a situation where you have the same user seeing the same ad repeatedly. To combat this, it’s wise to rotate multiple different ad creatives or keep your audience broad.

Web views and conversions

The challenge increases with web views and conversions, as you not only need your ad to entice the user enough to leave their beloved Snap feed and look at your product, but you need a smooth purchase process to generate a positive cost-per-acquisition.

Common call-to-actions include ‘swipe up’, ‘read more’ or ‘check out the website’ and the trick here is to focus on your ad content as much as your purchase process. Test and test again until you have minimised any abrasion and waiting time during your purchase experience.

Lead generation

If you’re not looking for purchases, but for enquiries - lead generation ads are the one. The best part is that Snapchat ads offer a range of call-to-actions and integrations to maximise your lead generation efforts such as downloads, form fill or register call-to-actions.

App install and engagement

As far as advertising for app install is concerned, snapchat are winning the game compared to their multi-device competitors. 

Snapchat is uniquely mobile-only therefore your ideal audience, no matter how short their attention spans, are just one click away from downloading your app directly to their phone, barely having to leave Snapchat in the process.

3. Choose your Snapchat Ad format

With your goals now set, it’s time to get your Snapchat ads to work in the best format possible. Snapchat leads the way in offering innovative ad formats that offer an actual engaging experience to Snapchat users as opposed to a frustrating distraction before their favourite video.

snapchat ads working with AR
Snapchat was one of the first platforms to integrate AR (augmented reality) into it's platform, which advertisers can use to make ads more engaging.

When it comes to the basic ads themselves, there are some basic rules to follow to make your Snapchat ads work best without any hold ups:

  1. Make sure content is 1080 x 1920px and is a JPEG or PNG if using an image
  2. Always include your brand name
  3. Format ads to suit both full screen and vertical view
  4. Ensure your ad content is appropriate for snapchat users of 13 years and older

When it comes to ad formats in Snapchat Ads you have four main choices

  1. Story ads - a branded tile in the ‘Discover’ section of the app which opens up into a collection of ads.
  2. Snapchat filters - branded filters that users can apply to photos and videos.
  3. AR (Augmented Reality) Lenses - allowing users to add your branded special effects to their own snaps.
  4. Collection Ads - perfect for eCommerce businesses allowing you to showcase a series of products.

If you have the resources available, I recommend mixing 1 to 3 of these formats and measuring the results to discover which offers the best return on investment.

4. Set your budget

The great news is that you can get started with Snapchat Ads with a budget as low as $5 per day so experimentation and creating ads is extremely accessible. When it comes to budgeting, Snapchat Ads is incredibly flexible with the ability to set a daily or lifetime budget that you can adjust as you go.

snapchat ads working with filters
Be creative and use your budget to experiment as much as possible.

Our recommendation is to start small, learn what your best audience is and which ads they are reacting to and engaging best with. You’ll soon develop a clear idea of  the best audience and ad format to invest your budget into to get your Snapchat ads really working.

How do Snapchat Ads charge for their ads?

Snapchat is slightly different to their competitors in that they charge per 1,000 impressions. However they also offer goal-based bidding which allows you to pay based on downloads, purchases or sign-ups.

5. Measure performance

Measure your ad performance and optimise accordingly - remember a social media ad campaign is never perfect and can always be improved. Whether you’re running your ads through Shopify’s app or directly through Snapchat Ads manager, the analytics on offer is world-class.

person using snapchat analytics to make ads work
Check your ad performance daily - you'll be surprised how enjoyable the platform is to use.

The analytics platform will save you time by highlighting specific segments that not only interacted with your ad, but also the specific segments that engaged with your ad the longest (perfect for brand awareness campaigns). You will also be able to see the segments that clicked through on your call-to-action (perfect for other formats).

Keep one eye on your analytics at all times and adjust your ads accordingly. The benefit is twofold - your conversion rate will increase but you will also get a strong idea of who your most effective target audience is.


I hope you have found this guide to how Snapchat Ads work useful. If you’d like to know more about Snapchat Ads or social media advertising in general, be sure to book a call with one of our team by hitting the ‘Schedule a call’ button above.

For other articles packed with tips and advice on maximising your social media ad strategy, check out our social media marketing blog.

Written by Aled Nelmes for Aura Ads.

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