More and more today we are seeing advertising on Snapchat. It’s become a popular tool to boost audience engagement and it’s one that is considered to be a more intimate social media platform.

Just to refresh, a Snap ad is a 3-10 second full-screen advertisement. Snap ads will appear in between friends’ stories and curated content. But how do we design for Snap ads? What design elements are best to use? When you’re designing ads, these are the tools and practices you need to consider and research in order to produce quality ads that will help convert. 

Amongst the numerous ways you can design an ad, you need to know what is best suited for each client and tailor ads specifically to who they are targeting. Throughout this read, you will learn which design practices are best and some tools you can use to achieve the best quality ads.

Single Image & Video Ads

Two of the most common practices that are used are Single Image ads and Video ads. Both provide the magic of sight, sound and motion and are both fully catered towards a mobile platform. These are great ways to capture and engage your audiences using different design elements.

Single Image Ads

Single Image ads provide your audience with a direct visual message that lasts anywhere from 3 -10 seconds. At this time length, a still shot will help to make an instant impact on your audience. Because it is displayed full-screen it has no other distractions to take away from the full visual. 

By showing your audience high quality photography featuring a brand’s product, it is wise to include the brand’s logo amongst your design at least 3 seconds into the beginning of your ad. Making sure that your photos are high quality and that there are no “obstructions” to the product you’re featuring, will help you produce an impactful image ad. You want your photography to really show off and enhance your products and/or services by showing the consumer the look, feel, function and benefits of what you’re selling. You want your audience to be able to understand your message and want to learn more. 

Experiment with different angles and viewpoints and when you’re capturing your images, be sure to give yourself enough “room to play with” in terms of space/background surrounding your product. That way when it comes time to sizing your images accordingly to the ad format, you won’t have issues of cropping things out because you didn’t have enough background to work with. Don’t be afraid to add some dimension to your images as well. Mixing media like imagery and a drawing style on top of the images can create interest and help to make things to stand out.

Typically, these types of ads work well when an Ecommerce brand wants to show off their products as it provides the ultimate platform to shop. When setting up the ad within the Snapchat Ad Manager, there is an option to upload your catalogue or list of services and create a “shoppable” ad, also known as “Product Ads”. The more photography you have to work with the better in terms of testing what performs well and finding out consumers are driven towards. 

These are some examples of how it looks when you add your catalogue or list when you create a shoppable ad.

Video Ads

Video ads allow for up to a 3 minute vertical video and offer the option to add an interactive element such as a “swipe up” button. This is a great feature that will direct your audience straight to your preferred site whether that is to watch a longer video, read an article, install an app or visit a website. 

When creating and designing your video ads, some of the most effective ways to help boost engagement is to film your subject and material in a shot as if they are “speaking to the camera” or in a front-facing style. These practices have proven to significantly produce stronger ad engagement. Keep in mind however that high quality video must be used with no low-quality blurriness which could severely reduce the impact it makes on your audience. Also be sure to include the brand’s logo and slogan where it is visible but not completely covering your product.

Just like with when you’re taking photography angles, the same applies for video however you need to be extra cautious when filming people as the angles must align well with the vertical format. Test out angles, zooming in/out and “panning” the camera from left to right to figure out how to best capture your product. Keep your spatial awareness in mind so that later when you’re designing you’re able to size your video accordingly to the ad format. 

Once you have multiple video shots to work with (the more the better!) you can experiment with motion text to add flare on top of your video. Whether you have the text (this includes the brand logo as well) that fades in or stays static on the video itself the whole time, there are various ways you can add that brand recognition. Ads that are video based have endless opportunities to show your brand message and can have a really effective impact on your audience in just 3-10 seconds.


Along with the Single Image and Video ads is another option of using GIFs. A GIF in its simplest form is just an animated image on a loop. Some people confuse it with motion video/film however it is the use of compiled static imagery set to a time sequence, generally anywhere from 0.5 – 2 seconds per image, playing on a “forever loop”. Using GIF ads on Snapchat is another design direction to experiment with as it provides a type of playful and engaging element.

It’s important to know that a GIF doesn’t have to just be an image/photo sequence; it could be a vector image/drawing to create fun icons etc. There are lots of ways to get creative by using GIFs. Whether that means mixing media with still imagery and a GIF displayed on top or around it, or even using a coloured background with a simple GIF text. The options are plentiful and you can have a lot of fun with it by making images or text “dance”.

Design by Kristina Stapelfeld |

As you’re designing your GIFs for ads, it’s important to remember to use high quality images or PNG formats for vector drawings/images. You’ll want to map out the type of motion you want to use first so you know which images to use in what sequence. It’s always a bit of trial and error to see how the images look together once you’ve set them to their time length and see what it looks like on a “forever loop” and you’ll sometimes need to add or take away the amount of images you have in your sequence. Overall, experimenting with GIF ads is always worth doing as you can be really playful with the styles and it allows you to test out different variations of ad designs. 

Snap Ads for Business

Whether you want to promote a brand’s product or services, there are many options on how to market and shine light on these brands. You can get creative with how you design your ad knowing that it will be shared for a specific amount of time, featuring a “swipe up” element and incorporating photography, video, and GIF formats. There are numerous ways to add design elements to your ads if carefully thought out.

It’s important to plan accordingly on the layout and user function of each ad to help determine which format is best suited for a brand. By keeping your ad design simple and not overly complicated or looking too “busy”, it helps to obtain consumers and make an impact on in order for them to make a decision to follow-through. 

For more Snap Ad examples from well-known brands, check out the success stories here at Snap.