We are seeing more and more advertising on Snapchat. It’s become a popular tool to boost audience engagement and 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 are going tolearn 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 to 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 make an instant impact on your audience. It is displayed in full-screen format which removes any other distractions that might detract form the visual impact.

When showing your audience high quality photography featuring a brand’s product, it is wise to include the brand’s logo for at least 3 seconds. More specificaly, at the beginning of your ad. You want your photography to really show off and enhance your products and/or services. This can be done 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. Making sure that your photo’s resolution is quality and the product being featured is unobstructed will help you produce an impactful image ad.

Experiment with different angles and viewpoints. 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 lack 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 help create visual interest.

Typically, these types of ads work well for an Ecommerce brand wishing 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, known as “Product Ads”. The more photography you have to work with, the better. It allows you to test what will work with your consumers.  

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. The site could offer a longer video, an article to read, an app to install or just a website to visit. Any of the above help with engagement and give you the opportunity to deepen your connection to your customer.

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 front-facing style. Similar to that of talking to a phone camera. These practices have proven to significantly produce stronger ad engagement. Keep in mind that high quality video must be used. Low-quality blurriness could severely reduce the impact it makes on your audience. And of course, be sure to include the brand’s logo and slogan… Just not in a place where it is distracting or obscuring your product.

Just like with photography, play with your angles. You just 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. Anything to figure out how to best capture your product. Keep your spatial awareness in mind. When you’re designing later, you want to be 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. 3 – 10 seconds may not seem like a lot, but it can have a really effective impact on your audience.


Along with the Single Image and Video ads, there is the 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 you can experiment with! 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 layered overtop 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 | stapelfelddesign.com

When 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. This way, you’ll know which images to use in what sequence. It’s always a bit of trial and error, once you see how the images look together. Sometimes you’ll need to add or remove images in your sequence, so that it flows correctly. Overall, experimenting with GIF ads is always worth doing. It allots a sense of playfulness and it allows you to test out different variations of ad designs. 

Snap Ads for Business

If you want to promote a brand’s product or services, there are tons of options that allow you to shine light on these brands. You can get creative with ad design knowing that it will be shared for a specific amount of time. For instance, featuring a “swipe up” element and incorporating photography, video, and GIF formats help raise engagement and draw focus where you want it. There are numerous ways to add design elements to your ads. You just have to carefully think it through.

It’s important to plan accordingly the layout and user function of each ad. It will help determine which format is best suited for a given brand. Keeping your ad design simple and “clean,” will help to obtain consumers and make a lasting impact on them. That way, it ushers them to make a decision to follow-through on. 

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