Why Snapchat Works to Drive Lead Generation in a Post-IDFA World

The social network remains a valuable marketing tool amid stricter privacy laws


Apple’s decision to terminate app tracking via its recently ended Identification For Advertisers (IDFA) has been a challenge for everyone working in mobile user acquisition.

While some may have thought that Snapchat had been eclipsed by other youth-focused social networking apps—we remember the day in 2018 when the company’s stock dropped by 6.1% after a tweet from Kylie Jenner—it’s been racking up valuable app installs and steady user engagement globally.

And since the arrival of iOS 14.5, Snapchat is even better positioned to deliver strong performance and great service.

Segment Apple users according to iOS version

The first thing Snapchat did effectively was to segment users according to their operating system.

This allowed marketers to set up new accounts to target users on iOS 14 or higher, with existing accounts being used for iOS users with older operating systems. The splitting of accounts was unique to Snapchat, and reduced the disruption because the ads targeting users on older operating systems worked as they always have. 

Furthermore, the company understood that users with iOS 14 are often earlier adopters with the newest phones. These users are more valuable to apps, whether they agreed to be tracked or not.

Minimize the migration to iOS 14.5

While some apps added screens and/or prompts explaining why the respective app is asking for permission to track data to improve ad targeting, Snapchat went with a “less is more” tactic, relying on Apple’s prompt.

Whether it is because Snapchat users are less concerned with being targeted or the fewer prompts, the tactic worked, resulting in greater consistency in campaign performance on Snapchat, keeping it pretty close to what it was before the major change by Apple. 

Outperforming other social platforms

At the end of the day, user acquisition campaigns are mostly judged by metrics like cost per install (CPI), return on ad spend (ROAS) and first time deposit (FTD). Even with the attribution challenges impacting all platforms on devices running iOS 14.5, Snapchat achieved a CPI that was one-third less than other leading social platforms, with similar results for in-app purchases. 

Snapchat’s relative performance since the rollout of iOS 14.5 actually improved versus other platforms as a result of the greater consistency and better management by its advertising team. In addition, the platform’s engaging creative ad offerings performed better than banner video ads. 

Though CPMs for iOS users on Snapchat have risen since the rollout of iOS 14.5, on average, they have not risen as much as they have on other platforms.

Part of the success of Snapchat is driven by the maturation of the company’s advertising offering and the pressure that the app is undoubtedly feeling from TikTok. The focus on full-screen video and highly engaging creative formats currently popular with user acquisition campaigns are also helping.

As a social platform, Snapchat has received far less industry buzz compared with some of its competitors over the last year or two. That said, a recent Zoomd survey of user acquisition managers at marketers and agencies showed strong growth for Snapchat among platforms in 2021. Snapchat is still a major player and has matured its ad offering to provide value for user acquisition managers, particularly in these challenging times.