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Eliminating Invalid Clicks on Snapchat

If you’re looking for a social media platform to engage with a younger demographic, you’re probably going to turn to Snapchat. Alongside Instagram, Snapchat is the most popular social media platform with users under 30.

Snapchat sees 210 million daily active users, and among the teen crowd it’s seen as the most important platform. In the US, 62% of 18-29 year olds ‘Snap’, with the next most popular country being France, followed by India and the UK. However it is not immune from invalid clicks and bots, not humans, clicking on your ads.

Brands using Snapchat

Some companies have seen great success using them for advertising — most notably, Taco Bell, in a massive campaign for Cinco de Mayo that was viewed 224 million times.  Big advertisers on Snapchat include Exxon Mobil, Disney, Lyft and Pepsico – with most of those being no surprise. In August 2020, products brand Sally Hansen became the first brand to roll out sponsored nail try-on Snapchat lenses in the U.S. using the SnapML technology for instance.

Investment in advertising has seen the success of its  Dynamic Ads, which Snap launched toward the end of 2019. Adidas and Chipotle Mexican Grill are just two brands that are finding value in Dynamic Ads, which automates the process of placing relevant ads in front of Snapchat users. Adidas saw a 52% increase in return on investment within weeks of trying the Dynamic Ads beta test. Chipotle used Dynamic Ads to launch a new free-delivery promotion on Snapchat. “Their campaign drove over three times the number of attributed purchases compared to their Q1 2020 campaign,” Snap’s chief business officer, Jeremi Gorman, said.

In addition, July 2020, brands were given their own profiles on Snapchat. The social platform began with 30 brands, in the image of Snapchat’s public profiles. The brand profiles, rolled out first to companies including Ben & Jerry’s, Gucci and Target, will serve as landing pages for select video content (that won’t disappear unless the brand wants it to), branded augmented reality lenses and a virtual in-app storefront for brands that use Shopify.

Overall, Snapchat currently makes just over $2 billion annually from advertising, with this forecast to rise to $2.6 billion by 2021.

Snapchat controversies

However there have been a few controversies surrounding advertising on Snapchat.  Facebook and Twitter have been mired in the whole ‘fake news’ issue for years, with the Cambridge Analytica scandal casting a long shadow. As advertisers look to new advertising streams, perhaps Snapchat offers a clean slate?

Snapchat does claim to be fighting fake news, and to be fair, it’s not doing a bad job. But there have been some teething problems too.

One example is that January 2019, an advertiser was caught out falsely using model Chrissy Teigan to promote its brand of weight loss pills. This was, apparently, just one example of some bad taste ads that had appeared on the platform, with users turned off and some even abandoning the platform. In April 2019, Snapchat quietly introduced a new community guidelines clause that reads, “We prohibit spam and deceptive practices, including content that imitates Snapchat ad formats.”

But, as we’ve seen with Facebook, controversy isn’t necessarily the death knell.

Another problem is the inevitable proliferation of bot accounts. These automated fake accounts are usually created to either spread spam or do a spot of phishing.

And with bot traffic comes invalid clicks, or fake engagement on your ads.

How bots can click on ads

Snapchat is one of the most cost effective of the PPC ad platforms.  But, that doesn’t mean you want your ads clicked on by bots.

Like all social media platforms, fake engagement costs the advertiser money. So where do these invalid clicks come from? Basically wherever there are clicks, bots arrive. In total these are the channels of advertising on Snapchat that fraudsters exploit.

  • Snap Ads These are full screen (usually 3-5 seconds long)
  • Filters contain stylized text and images, targeted at specific demographics(in Snapchat’s universe, the puppy ears thing are “Lenses”). Businesses also use GeoFilters for location-specific businesses like theme parks and hotels.
  • Lenses Brands have used Lenses, for instance to turn you into a giant taco (courtesy of Taco Bell).
  • Story Ads – a collection of Snap Ads all in rapid succession.
  • Product Ads – Users can click on the item that looks the most appealing, and buy it straight away!
  • Snapchat commercials— only available in certain countries— they are roughly six second commercials that cannot be skipped.
  • Dynamic ads – Rolled out mid-October 2019), Dynamic ads bring automated personalization,  targeting Snapchat users based on their past behavior. This has been used successfully by companies including Swarovski and Ivory Ella.

Methods that bots use to click on ads and disguise themselves

CHEQ For PPC, uses more than 1000 cybersecurity traps and is deployed by the world’s top brands to prevent bots invading and clicking on their Snapchat campaigns. It turns out that campaigns are affected by bots mostly in the following ways:

Data centers

Data centers refers to any non-human source of traffic, often a server or network which can be used to power bots or web scrapers.The MRC, the industry regulator for digital advertising, notes that known data center traffic is determined to be a constant source of non-human traffic. Identifying data center traffic is one step to showing that the click was not legitimate.

User Agent Spoofing

With user agent spoofing, a program can generate code in a URL to change the appearance of its origin. For example, this might occur with a program making it appear as if an ad has been viewed from a mobile device, but it has in fact been viewed from a desktop browser, or even a bot.

Retargeting to bots

Services  such as Dynamic Ads offered by Snapchat, offer retargeting based on users’ on-site behavior. Nevertheless, in many cases, marketers spend good money on chasing bad bots who only look the part. These bots (as non-humans) will never convert. It is necessary to remove these bad bots from your retargeting machine. Using CHEQ for PPC users are excluded  via a CHEQ supplied “Invalid Audience” pool, and all bots are blocked from clicking on your campaigns.

The Click fraud solution for Snapchat

CHEQ for PPC uses thousands of real-time protection measures to ensure that clicks on your ad are both who they say they are (for example, they are genuinely coming from an iOS device), and that they are coming from human sources.

In fact, CHEQ for PPC is the only anti-fraud software that prevents fake engagement on all of the major social media platforms, bring instant return on investment (ROI) with campaigns that convert and are not blocked by bots. So, if you’re running PPC ads on Google, Bing FacebookInstagramTwitterPinterest or Snapchat – make sure you’re not wasting money on bots.