Yesterday, Digiday reported that Snapchat has engaged a number of ad technology companies regarding the development of a Snapchat advertising API. Snapchat published its first ad in October of 2014; however, the company uses an outdated, brand-by-brand direct contact model for its current ad strategy. An advertising API would greatly increase Snapchat's scalability and flexibility when it comes to selling advertising space on the messaging platform.
"Snapchat's ambition going into 2016 is to have many more opportunities for e-commerce on the platform and other stuff that is more about building audiences," an ad agency executive familiar with Snapchat's plans told Digiday.
An advertising API seems like a natural progression for Snapchat. Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook have all launched advertising APIs, and a robust advertising strategy may be one of the only conceivable means of revenue generation for a free app of limited dimension. However, given Snapchat's history of internal API vulnerability, it's no surprise that the company seems late to the game when it comes to publishing a public-facing API of any sort.
Snapchat has started generating some revenue through its current ad strategy, and other revenue streams (e.g. Sponsored lenses, Discover, etc.). However, an advertising API would enable the company to target users by profile, sell products via calls to action and click to buy, and other API-automated functionality. Snapchat has declined to comment on the API; accordingly, specific details remain unknown.
According to the sources reporting the advertising API, Snapchat plans to release an API for testing by spring of this year. The company's development strategy looks similar to Instagram's method of inviting a limited number of partners to participate in a beta test. The details around a broader launch are unknown at this point. Keep an eye out for more to come on a Snapchat advertising API.