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A faceless ghost is a fitting icon for Snapchat, considering the app is an enigma to many people. But those raised on smartphones more easily see it for what it is—primarily a camera app and a storytelling platform, with secondary social networking and messaging features, as explored in a new eMarketer report, “Snapchat Advertising: A Roadmap for US Brand Marketers and Digital Agency Executives” (eMarketer PRO customers only).
Snapchat definitely does have capabilities akin to apps in the social networking and messaging app categories. But with a camera as its front door, the app is best thought of as a utility for visually capturing moments that matter and communicating them creatively in a private or semiprivate way.
“We’re like a camera company,” said Bryan Kim, manager of Snapchat’s strategy group. “And we encourage creativity, which is why there are so many creative tools on our platform—doodles, geofilters, stickers and lenses.”
In the five years since Snapchat launched, the app has amassed a large and active user base. eMarketer projects 58.6 million US consumers will use Snapchat at least once per month in 2016. eMarketer’s user estimate would represent 28.3% of US smartphone users and 18.1% of the US population. Both of these percentages would be a considerable gain from two years ago, when Snapchat was used regularly by just 10.3% of US consumers and less than 20% of US smartphone users. The app’s popularity grew quickly in 2014 and 2015, with year-over-year growth rates of 83.9% and 40.7%, respectively.
What is anticipated to change significantly is the size of the Snapchat audience. eMarketer projects two more years of double-digit growth in the number of monthly active users—a 27.2% year-over-year increase this year, followed by a 13.6% increase next year. In 2018 and beyond, when the Snapchat audience is expected to be substantially larger than it is today, year-over-year increases will be in the single-digit range.
Millennials (those born between 1981 and 2000) make up the largest share of Snapchat’s US user base, totaling 40.9 million and representing 70% of Snapchat’s monthly active users in 2016, according to eMarketer’s estimates. Millennials will remain in the majority going forward, but their share of the total Snapchat audience will shrink each year as the app’s appeal increases among other generations. eMarketer predicts millennials will make up 56% of all US Snapchat users by the end of 2020.
eMarketer PRO customers can view the full report here.
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