This Snap Ads guide is going to help us keep track of the ads platform and what is possible. Don’t miss out on what is next for the platform, and check out or guide for TikTok, the newest kid on the block.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Business Account & Ad Manager
  3. Snap Ads Pixel
  4. Snap Attribution Window
  5. Custsom Audiences
  6. Customize Columns for Ad Performance Metrics
  7. Your First Snap Ads Campaign
  8. Snap Ads Specifications & Guidelines
  9. Other Creative Best Practices
  10. Snap Augmented Reality (AR)
  11. Snap Ads Funnel


Updated September 14th, 2020. Originally published February 9, 2020.

More than a third of our audience can’t be found on Facebook or Instagram.² Over 38% of our audience doesn’t use Instagram in a given day.

$1,000 Snap Ad Credit

Sign Up For Your Ad Account

Firstly, a little something to get you started. Get $1,000 in Snap Ad credit when you sign up for a brand new ad account and after your first $1,000 dollars spent in ads. You do need to spend $1,000 in advertising of your own money before you get the ad credit.

Business Account & Ad Manager

Similar to Facebook, you need a personal Snap account to run ads. You will also need to setup a business account, which automatically creates your first ad manager for you. You can manage your ad account under the ‘Ad Accounts’ section of ads manager.

Make sure your email under your personal account matches the email you are going to use for your business account and ad manager. About 48+ countries can currently make a business account. Lastly, there are only two roles within your business account and ad manager:

An Organization Admin has the ability to change Business details and manage all of the Ad Accounts within that organization.

Member is able to work with the Ad Account(s) they have been invited to that are a part of that Business. A Member’s functionality will depend on what role they have been assigned within that specific Ad Account.

New Members must be added to the business before they can be assigned to an individual Ad Account. Any admin can add a Member to their Business. Once this is done, set up your pixel, audiences and your first campaign.

Snap Ads Pixel

The team behind Snap Ads have come from a variety of other ad platforms and have built a great ad pixel. You can track leads, subscriptions, product sales or any other metrics that a direct response marketer is going to have as a goal. The best part is that you can measure these goals beyond what happens during a single session, or on a single device, as we do live in a multi-device world.

You can install the pixel using the Snapchat ads app that works with Shopify, BigCommece and other ecommerce platforms. You can also use Google Tag Manager to install the pixel. If you run into any issue then read the 3rd party tracking help article the Snap ads team made. It’s seriously one of the best ad platform help guides out there!

Verify Implementation

After you’ve configured the pixel, it’s important to make sure it’s firing correctly. To verify implementation: 

  1. Use the Snap Pixel Helper to make sure pixel events are configured correctly.
  2. Log in to Ads Manager.
  3. Click the menu in the top corner and select ‘Snap Pixel.’ 
  4. Verify traffic activity.

Please Note: The data reported in this graph is the raw pixel event data, not conversions attributed to Ad activity. 

Pixel FAQ Details

  1. Pixel events are tracked on the day the event happened. Unlike most ad platform which tracks it on the day the ad was clicked
  2. You can not pick Purchase as your event object when you first launch. You need to get 50 Swipe-ups within a 7 day rolling period. After that duplicate your ad set and you can switch the event to purchase
  3. You have to continue to hit the 50 swipe ups or purchase events in a 7 day rolling period

    Pixel Helper FAQ

Snap Attribution Window

Snap uses an attribution window of 28 days on a swipe up (click) and 1 day view when someone does not swipe but does see your ads. You can adjust this in your ads manager but this is pretty decent if you are just starting out. You can learn a little more about that here.

Custom Audiences

Snap ads lets you build tons of awesome and interesting audiences in your ad account. Audiences can be based off your ads, pixel, and even your customer emails you have uploaded into your ad account. Snap ads supports the following:

  • Snap Audience Match (SAM) Audiences are built using customer emails or device ids you upload. Once you upload the customer ads and create a SAM Audiences, you can get audience insights (such as the number of matched Snapchat Users), or even create Lookalikes from your uploaded data.

    Uploading purchasers’ emails or customers who have bought from your brand multiple times is an easy place to start. Learn how to create a Sam Audience.
  • Lookalike Audiences consist of Snapchatters (people who using the Snap app) who are similar to people you have already have in another audience. You can only create a Lookalike Audience if you have already uploaded a SAM, Pixel, or Third Party Audience. With a Lookalike Audience, you’ll be able to choose the audience size and select a country for the Lookalike. Audience size names are the following:

    1. Similarity: Smaller audience that has the closest resemblance to the seed audience
    2. Balance: Mid-size audience that balances resemblance and reach
    3. Reach: Larger audience that has the broadest resemblance to the seed audience

    At this time, there are only select countries available. Learn how to create a Lookalike Audience
  • Saved Audiences let you find and apply audiences to your ad set when you make a campaign. Learn how to create a Saved Audience
  • Third-Party Custom Audiences let you target Oracle and Nielsen
    audiences based on their past buying patterns or viewership behaviors. Ideally this will be a highly targeted group of customers for a brand to show ads to.

    This is possible with Snap’s partnerships with Oracle and Nielsen. An Advertiser can tap into an expansive data marketplace to develop a segment for an individual Campaign, objective, product, or service.
    • Please Note: These are only available in the U.S. at this time. Sorry fellow Canadians and British marketers.
  • Pixel Custom Audiences are people who have interacted with your brand in the past. Snapchatters who have engaged with your website (Pixel Custom Audiences) will be retained for 30 days by default, with the exception of audiences associated with the pixel Sign Up event. Those are retained for 13 months by default. If there is no media spend against any of these segments within one year, they will automatically remove these from the UI. You can continue to remove and edit audiences whenever you like within your tools. Click here for more information on Snap Pixel.
  • Ad Engagement Audiences provide a way to target users who have taken a specific action on ads with your Ad Account or specific Campaign(s) within your Ad Account. Snapchatters who have engaged with your ads will be retained for 13 months by default. 

How long are Custom Audiences retained?

  • Pixel Custom Audiences are retained for a rolling 30 day window by default, with the exception of audiences associated with the pixel Sign_Up event being retained for 13 months by default.
  • Snap Audience Match (SAM), Third-Party Custom Audiences, and Lookalike Audiences are stored indefinitely, as long as they’re being used in active Campaigns. 
  • Ad Engagement Audiences have a 13 month rolling retention window by default.

Please Note: ‘Indefinite’ is denoted as 9,999 days in the UI. If the segment has not had any media spend in the last year, the audience will automatically be removed from your UI

Customize Columns for Ad Performance Metrics

Within the default ‘Manage Ads’ view of Ads Manager, you’ll be able to see the performance information and metrics for all of your Ad Accounts. You can go here for more info on what each metric means. There are tons of metrics you can customize your view with inside ad manager. I don’t know about anyone else, but this is the first thing I need access to when taking on brand new ad account.

If you’d like to view the performance of your Ad Account over a particular date range, click the date-picker in the top right corner of your account.

Your First Snap Ad Campaign

Making your first Snap campaign is going to be easier then baking a pie. And I love pie.

  1. Log in to Ads Manager.
  2. Select an Ad Account from the dropdown in the top right corner. 
  3. Click the menu in the top corner and select ‘Create Ads.’ 
  4. Select ‘Advanced Create’ to create a Campaign. 
  5. Select your Campaign objective. Please go here for additional details on objectives.
  • Through the ‘Engagement’ and ‘Awareness‘ objectives you have the option to create a Campaign with a Filter or a Snap Ad with a Lens attachment. 
    • To submit a Filter in Ads Manager, select ‘Filter’ as the ad format.
    • To submit a Snap Ad with a Lens attachment, select ‘Snap Ad’ as the ad format and ‘AR Lens’ as the attachment type from the dropdown.
  • Through the ‘Catalog Sales‘ objective, you have the option to create a Campaign for a Product Ad. This Facebook’s Dynamic Product Ads. All formats that are created from your Catalog must run within the ‘Catalog Sales’ objective. 
  • Through the ‘Engagement’ or ‘Video Views’ objectives, you have the option to run Commercials. These are 180 second ads or TV commercials.

After this you can setup your campaign name, start & end date, as well as budget cap. Your ad set and placement options will be based on what you picked as your campaign objectives.

Before you publish, review your Campaign, Ad, and Ad Set details. You can preview your Ad by clicking on the preview button. Building your first Snap Ads campaign is similar to other ad platforms but don’t be afraid to create your first campaign with Snap’s help article.

Snap Ad Specifications & Guidelines

You should start out with an image or video campaign because they are easier to get up and running. Plus, it gives you a chance to learn the ad platform without picking an advanced creative ad format like lens ads.

Single Image & Video Ad Creative Best Practices

Snap ads were made for mobile and all the sight, sound, and motion that comes with it. You can upload up to 3 minutes of vertical video for your ad.
Alway create an ad that suits your goals in the form of video (live or animated), Gif-like, still, and cinemagraph.

  • Feature a ‘Hero’ message from the opening frame 
  • Use voiceover calls to action to encourage swipe up
  • 0:03 – 0:05 is the sweet spot for video length to drive action
  • Test all types of image or video Ads from video, to stills, to gifs or cinemagraphs (one per Ad Set)
  • Align creative with targeting where possible. Higher relevancy can lead to higher swipe and conversion rates!
  • Consider stop animation or GIFs for your image or video
  • Provide an offer message if available within second 2 or 3

Just like Snaps, single image or video ads offer a variety of creative freedom to communicate your message. They can take the form of video — whether it be motion graphic, live, cinema-graph, or gif style — as well as still.

Full Screen Canvas:

  • 1080px x 1920px
  • 9:16 aspect ratio
  • Scaled proportionally to original asset

Acceptable Creatives:

  • Live, motion graphic, or stop motion video
  • Cinemagraph
  • Slideshow
  • Gif-like
  • Still image


  • 3 to 180 seconds

File Format:

  • Video: .mp4 or .mov and H.264 encoded
  • Image: .jpg or .png (Ads Manager only)
  • Storage Aspect Ratio (SAR): 9:16
  • Display Aspect Ratio (DAR): 9:16
  • Pixel Aspect Ratio (PAR): 1:1

File Size:

  • Video: 1 GB or less
  • Image: 5 MB or less


  • Must utilize 2 channels (left and right) in a balanced way throughout
  • Audio target level should be- 16 LUFS
  • PCM or AAC codec
  • 192 minimum kbps
  • 16 or 24 bit only

Additional Tips

Native Style
Develop video ad creative with Snapchat’s platform and visual language in mind. Ads which feature UGC look and feel, Snapchat inspired features, and speaking to camera are significantly stronger at driving view-through, while performing on par at driving Ad awareness compared to polished ad styles. Consider an endemic creative style to increase duration. 

Simple Creative
Keep ad creative simple and concise with a clear key message. Ads should seek to mirror the bite-sized and linear storytelling of Snaps. Snapchat recommends keeping duration closer to 5 or 6 seconds.

Snapchat applies a brand name and headline to the upper left corner of your creative. To prevent overlap, we suggest keeping the top 150 px of the canvas clear of graphics or logos.

Early Branding
Establish your brand moments before the :02 mark to maximize ad awareness, but avoid opening on a solid frame with a logo or exclusively a product shot. Opening with dynamic footage provides a moment to hook viewers!

Encourage Swipe Up
If running an attachment, ensure the image or video acts as a teaser with actionable messaging to incentivize Snapchatters to swipe up. Feature a strong and relevant call-to-action.

Incremental exposures increases lift in resonance metrics, despite having a negative impact on view duration. Resonance metrics matter more than duration, since viewers might already know what you’re offering.

Other Creative Best Practices

Beyond image and video ads, there are tons of other ad creative options for Snap ads. Here are your other options and ones you should test out as you build your funnel:

  1. Filter Specifications
  2. Story Ads
  3. Lenses
  4. Commercials
  5. Product Catalogs
  6. Collection Ads

One important thing to know is that snap and story ad inventory are different channels on Snap. Running ads in one won’t let your ads show in another place. Keep this in mind as you try to scale and own your marketshare.

Snap Augmented Reality (AR)

Snap’s Augmented Reality is taking off a bit and their Lens Studio is the place to make that happen. You will need to download software to make your lens and agree to Snap’s TOS, which you should read before starting. Similar to ads, lens provide an opportunity to show off your brand, creativity and brand’s personality all within the snap universe.

Snap Ads Funnel

Upper / Mid Funnel

Beyond starting off with image and video ads for your creative. You should look at lens (AR), filters (overlays), and commercials as a way to target and find Snappers who might be interested in your brand. You want to get people in your funnel and see which groups are going to convert.

Combining image and video ads along with lens (AR), filters (overlays) and commercial ad formats will give your brand the best chance of success.

Bottom Funnel

  • Snap Ads – Seen between Stories
  • Story Ads – Tile in Discovery (curated news & shows)
  • Product Catalog Ads
  • Collection ads

Snap and Story are different sets of ad inventory, so run ads on both as you can own more market share, like I said earlier. This is important to keep in mind. Don’t be shy to take lookalike audiences and layer them on top interest targeting to keep performance high.

Snap Ads have one of the best help and support docs I have ever seen. Plus it looks beautiful too. So, as Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus once said, “Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!” The world is yours, you just need to reach out and grab it.

That is it for now. We will keep updating this guide as new ad formats and options come out.

1. Source: Snap Inc. internal data Q3 2019. See Snap Inc. public filings with the SEC 2. Source: Custom App Annie analysis commissioned by Snap Inc. Daily exclusive reach is based on the daily overlap of active users on Snapchat and competitor app in the US; calculation equals (1-Overlap Penetration); App Annie weights iOS and Android data in their sample to reflect the general population of the market; Figures calculated for Q1 and Q2 2019

Disclaimer: We independently select the tools and technology that we use at the agency—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. Our agency is an Snapchat Ambassador for the app and ad platform.