2 Views on Snapchat: The Need to Stay Ad Free, and the Future of Disappearing Media

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A Snapchat image sent by a certain relative of mine who will remain anonymous (and yes, it's bad form that I saved it)

Ad Age readers may have caught a double dose of contributions from me last week about Snapchat, one of the most electrifying companies to come along in quite some time. As noted on my blog last week, Snapchat has as many photos shared daily as Facebook does (350 million) – albeit from a much smaller base of users.

As a bit of backstory, the columns were published in reverse order. I submitted the second one that ran a week before it did, and Ad Age had a bit of backlog. Then, Wednesday, as news broke of Snapchat rejecting Facebook's $3 billion offer, I banged out a new post on why ads don't belong there. Ad Age published it right away, and then the second one, a thought experiment, the day after.

We'll see if the post on ads proves to be controversial. It was a fun conversation starter, and regardless of what Snapchat does, it's meant to be a warning for advertisers that Snapchat users are going to be especially wary of anything that reeks of targeting:

The crux of this is that Snapchat users value privacy, while marketers value publicity… Valuing privacy leads to other consequences. Snapchat users don't want to be tracked. They don't want to be analyzed. They don't want to be targeted. On the internet, no one knows you're a dog, but on Snapchat, you'll share with a few of your close friends that you're a dog. When you do that, you won't expect to see any dog food ads from Purina or pet-friendly hotel ads from Travelocity. And you won't want to wind up in any reports showing the age, gender, location, interests, and species of Snapchat users.

The second post is more philosphical, musing on what would happen if marketers treated their content (namely their ads) more like Snapchat content:

What if marketers embraced the fleeting nature of their advertising, and even of the content that they're sharing? What if, when a marketer deploys its 30-second spot of a car going down the highway, it has decided that this ad will never be seen again? What if the frequency is always designed to be one, even as the reach varies? What if this were true not just for the 30-second spot but for the Facebook post, the tweet, even the so-called viral video hosted on YouTube? And what if all of this was taken a step further so that the only way this ad or other promotional content could last longer was if the recipient shared it? Otherwise it would vanish.

Stay tuned at Ad Age's Digital Next. Unlike Snapchat messages, these issues won't disappear anytime soon.