Snapchat is finally opening up further audience tracking features for advertisers, catching up with similar services run by its competitors. The new service, called Snap Pixel, allows advertisers to track users’ activities on their websites in relation to ads they’ve placed on the platform.
Put simply, Snap Pixel gives brands a more sophisticated picture of how well their ads on the platform are working, beyond just viewability and click-through statistics. So far Snap Pixel just offers measurement tools, but the company has promised to expand the technology to support ad retargeting and real-time optimization.
Snapchat has supported custom audience targeting since late 2016 and even tracked the offline behavior of its users since early this year, but this marks the platform’s most detailed audience tracking feature yet. Their previous partnership with Oracle’s Data Cloud split users into only 100 different general categories, rather than the ultra-granular, brand-specific profiles it could have tracked.
This latest update is a further about-face from what Evan Spiegel, Snap’s CEO, described in 2015 as “creepy” and another step in the same direction as other digital advertising platforms. Both Google and Facebook have long offered similar features to their advertising partners, including more sophisticated tools to segment audiences and target based on online behavior.
Snap Pixel in its current state does not allow users to opt out of the service, as it did with Snap Audience Match in 2016, but the company has promised that once the ad product supports more aggressive audience targeting, users will be able to.
A report earlier this week revealed that Snapchat is the weakest of the major social media platforms in driving direct purchase engagement, and with Snapchat losing new audience acquisition to Instagram, it’s likely that the company will continue to fall in line with accepted industry practices in the future.