Snapchat Explores New Scannable Ads

Snapchat is working on a new type of ad that would allow people to use their smartphone cameras to unlock special sponsored content in the app. The feature lets people scan an image or barcode on a poster or a website, which later gives them a special deal on a product, according to two people briefed on the company’s ad strategy.

The ad format is currently in development but one of these people said it’s expected to roll out this fall. It’s also possible the product gets delayed or shelved entirely.

As the company ramps up its drive for revenue, it is figuring out which ad formats resonate with consumers and advertisers. The company hopes the “Snap to unlock” feature would encourage people to engage with the ad. Some marketers have complained Snapchat’s main ad format, 10 second video spots, can be easily skipped.

Tom Dotan joined the Information in 2014 covering the media, advertising and streaming video businesses. He is based in San Francisco and can be found on Twitter at @cityofthetown.
Amir Efrati is executive editor at The Information, which he helped to launch in 2013. Previously he spent nine years as a reporter at the Wall Street Journal, reporting on white-collar crime and later about technology. He can be reached at and is on Twitter @amir