Snapchat has made no secret of its focus on mature social media markets. In an SEC filing from February, parent company Snap Inc. plainly stated, “We expect growth to continue to come from developed markets with readily available high-speed cellular internet and high-end mobile devices.”
That’s likely due to the fact that Snapchat users burn up a lot of data sending videos and photos. Usage of the mobile app can quickly become expensive for those on a prepaid mobile plan—a common situation in emerging markets like Mexico.
That may explain why Snapchat trails rivals like Facebook and Instagram in Mexico. According to data from comScore Mobile Metrix, Snapchat drew just 2.9 million unique visitors in March of this year, far below the 29.3 million recorded by Facebook and the 10.2 million seen by Instagram.
comScore also found that Snapchat has managed to carve out a niche market among young millennial users in Mexico, much as it has in many other markets. Just over six in 10 (60.4%) of the service’s users in Mexico this March were between the ages of 18 and 24. Only 23.5% were ages 25 to 34 and even fewer—16.1%—were 35 or older.
By contrast, both Facebook and Instagram drew much more heavily from older millennials and those over the age of 35 to build their user bases in the country.
Snapchat maintains its appeal among younger millennials in Mexico in part due to fun and creative features such as lenses and filters.
And despite its claims that it focuses on more developed markets, Snapchat has not completely ignored potential revenue streams originating in emerging markets like Mexico.
In February, Snapchat partnered with digital marketing firm IMS Group to deliver targeted ads in markets including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico through its mobile app. The collaboration allows ad buyers access to Snapchat’s vertical video ad format, known as Snap Ads, as well as Sponsored Geofilters and Sponsored Lenses/Filters.
“This is first time I have found an advertising format where the user is willing to be the ‘champion of the brand’ and share with their friends,” said IMS CEO Gastón Taratuta in a statement announcing the partnership. “The cost per engagement is significantly lower, and this will help make Snapchat a leader and successful platform,” he added.
While Snapchat appears to face a challenge in growing its user base, its ad revenues show no sign of slowing. eMarketer estimates that worldwide Snapchat ad revenues will grow from $774.1 million this year to $2.72 billion by 2019.