Snapchat has been scaring users with its first ever in-app advert: a 20 second trailer for upcoming horror flick Ouija.
The company announced last week that they would be sending out the advert to the US portion of their estimated 100 million global users, placing the video in the “Recent Updates” section (meaning that users wouldn’t get notified about the ad as if they’d received a message from a friend).
“Some companies spend a lot of time and collect a lot of data about you to figure that out. The product we’re releasing today is a lot simpler,” said the company in a blog post. “An advertisement will appear […] and you can choose if you want to watch it. No biggie. It goes away after you view it or within 24 hours, just like Stories.”
They promised that the ads will be "fun and informative, the way ads used to be, before they got creepy and targeted" - a clear swipe at the likes of Facebook. The company added that they had a simple reason for introudcing ads: “We need to make money,” they said. “Advertising allows us to support our service while delivering neat content to Snapchatters. We promise that we’ll use the money we make to continue to surprise the Snapchat community with more terrific products.”
The Snapchat community certainly reacted in surprise however, with more than a few taking to Twitter to voice surprise (or, you know, plain confusion) to the ad.
Why is Ouija on my Snapchat? Not today Satan, not today.— Gustav Olivares (@guseter) October 18, 2014
WHY TF IS OUIJA ON MY SNAPCHAT STORY I AINT TRYNA SEE THAT NO THANK YOU— jay (@jeannneetttee_) October 18, 2014
Ouija popped up on my snapchat and I was trippin balls I thought somehow a Ouija board was in my snapchat story.— J a z z (@JazzZackery) October 18, 2014
AdAge reports that the video was specially edited so that it looked like a Snapchat Story – the app’s most recent feature which allows users to compile multiple images and videos into rolling movies covering their day (imagine a little multimedia slideshow version of Facebook’s News Feed).
It’s a small step for Snapchat (and a relatively safe one – people are mostly happy to watch movie trailers) but with a $10 billion valuation hanging over the company, the app’s managers need to be careful not to scare off their young and lucrative userbase. They’ve put up with one horror story – but how will they react if the ads start coming in every day?