Snapchat is launching a dedicated benefits program called “Snap Accelerate” to incentivize startups to advertise on the platform. The benefits include media coupons, creative services credits, free branded filters and early access to new ad products among other things up to $100,000. The move is a strategic one to prove its viability as an ad platform.
Snapchat is under pressure to prove its viability as more than just an experimental platform for advertisers, and it thinks getting startups on board in their early stages is going to take it there.
The platform is launching a dedicated program to incentivize startups to grow their businesses by advertising on Snapchat, Business Insider has learned. The program, called “Snap Accelerate,” will offer VC-backed startups, incubators and accelerator programs a range of benefits and services to advertise on Snapchat, valued at up to $100,000, a Snap spokesperson confirmed.
The services include media coupons, creative services credits, free branded filters for their headquarters, early access to new ad products and priority business and tech support as well as access to its self-service buying tools and API partners. The program has three tiers for startups at three different levels including “Kickstart,” “Sprint” and “Scale,” with corresponding benefits appropriate for the level. So for example, while startups in the Kickstart stage will get media coupons worth only $10,000, those in the Scale stage can get credit worth $50,000.
While Snapchat is looking to partner with startups at various stages of their growth, the program is more specifically suited for growth-stage, mobile startups in the digital space, according to the spokesperson. This includes mobile startups focused on performance-based, direct-response marketing strategies, mobile commerce and gaming startups and mobile apps focused on user acquisition.
One such startup, for instance, is Aaptiv, an audio fitness mobile app that combines personal training workouts with music playlists. The startup began using Snapchat when it rolled out its self-serve ad platform called the Snapchat Ad Manager this summer, and will be a part of the Accelerate program moving forward.
“For startups like ours to be successful, we need both an excellent product as well as an innovative way to target our audience,” Ethan Agarwal, founder and CEO at Aaptiv, told Business Insider. “We understand how mobile content works and so does Snapchat, and their audience is the perfect audience for us to expand to as we seek a larger set of users.”
Through the program, startups like Aaptiv can get access to a whole suit of advertising tools for free, and drive growth and ROI. They can use Snap Ads to drive app installs, make users play mobile games, use filters to drive awareness or use Snapcodes to amplify their other campaigns.
But Snapchat stands to gain even more here than the startups, said Jeremy Leon, VP of strategy at agency Laundry Service. By reeling in startups early and proving to them the value of the platform, it can convert them into strategic long-term partners.
“This a good move for Snapchat because, ultimately, the more people who try the platform, the higher the likelihood that an advertiser is going to see success on the platform and continue investing money with them,” he said. “It’s all about proving that there’s a positive ROI there.”
This is not the first time that Snapchat or its competitors have offered such incentives. Incentive programs are a regular product and sales strategy for platforms, to get brands to try out new formats and ideally spend more eventually.
But in Snapchat’s case specifically, the incentives are part of a larger move by the platform to increasingly cater to smaller businesses and startups. With a number of self-serve platform and product rollouts and incentive programs, Snapchat has been doubling down on smaller businesses and startups in recent months.
It’s not hard to see why, said Attention president Tom Buontempo, who thinks this is Snapchat’s way of taking on Google, Facebook and Amazon.
“If they can help the growth and drive considerable brand and business outcomes for them, the startups become an important part of the Snapchat advertising ecosystem,” he said. “Snapchat is trying to be strategic in how they drive their revenue growth – by leaning into the investor community and startups instead of trying to fight the narrative and modify the behavior that Facebook, Google and Amazon have managed to create.”
Snapchat said that it was in talks with a number of top VC firms and accelerators, but declined to name any approved partners yet. Other startups interested in applying can apply here.