Snap Inc. is building its own mobile ad network to launch later this year.
At its event today in Los Angeles for developers and creators, the company said it’s creating the Snap Audience Network, which will exist beyond Snapchat’s own platform and allow marketers to target users across a variety of apps. Audience Network will initially be available only for iOS devices, with a broader Android rollout coming at a later date.
While Snap has until now used mostly a closed network for advertising within its app, Audience Network will compete with other advertising giants like Facebook, LinkedIn and Google, which each have their own expansive ad networks across websites and mobile apps. According to Snap, developers will be able to begin applying today for access to the company’s ad software developer kit ahead of the network’s launch later this year.
The move is part of a broader push by the company to better scale its advertising business, which over the past two years has shifted from a primarily direct-sale model to one that’s primarily programmatic. It could also be a move away from Snap’s early days of advertising when it sought to differentiate from Facebook and Google by not collecting as much data on users for ad targeting.
Snap didn’t provide details about what kind of data the Audience Network might collect or use for retargeting but said advertisers will be able to run ad campaigns outside of Snapchat, which uses the same creative. The network might also help marketers reach a broader audience, which could be helpful for the company that has struggled in recent months to grow its user base.
In recent months, Snap has worked to overhaul the way it thinks about advertising, including switching from a regional sales model to one that’s focused on a number of industry verticals. Even as it seeks to scale its self-service ads business, the company is hoping to build better relationships with large ad agencies and brands. Last fall, it hired chief business officer Jeremi Gorman from Amazon, where she was known for having strong relationships with marketing execs.
In addition to the Audience Network, Snap also debuted a range of other updates for Snapchat, including a new slate of original video programming on Snap Originals, augmented reality experiences and new social video games.