‘We’re not social media’: Ajit Mohan on Snap as an alternative platform and the growing APAC region

Snap Inc. - Ajit Mohan

“As a company, we’ve been rather coy for the longest time about calling out why we are different.”

“We’re not social media. The community that uses Snap understands it quite well and how we are different,” Ajit Mohan, president of APAC of Snap, Inc., told Mediaweek.

“Even in the context of massive competition, we have a community that is 800 million strong and still growing,” he noted of its global users.

In Australia, Snapchat reports over 8 million active monthly users, reaching 80% of 13 to 24-year-olds and 75% of 13 to 34-year-olds.

Despite the existence of well-established platforms such as Meta’s Facebook and Instagram and the emergence of TikTok, Mohan noted that Snapchat continues to grow.

“We continue to have massive momentum because we are not social media and provide a clear alternative. But when it comes to the competition for attention and innovation, that’s been intense over the last 12 years, and I think that will continue to be the case.”

Snap at Cannes: ‘We are being vocal about it’

Mohan spoke to Mediaweek from the Cannes Lion Festival in France, where Snapchat took over La Malmaison and wrapped it in yellow as part of its Less Social Media. More Snapchat. campaign and its pivot to performance ads from brand ads.

The key messaging from the activation showcases the campaign, which will be launched later in Australia, and its difference from other platforms.

As a company, we’ve been rather coy for the longest time about calling out why we are different, even though the community that uses us understood it, and that’s one of the big things that has changed this year.

“That’s one of the objectives that we have at Cannes, to communicate more overtly the differentiation of our platform and how different we are from social media, including that our app opens to a camera, it’s visual and fun, it doesn’t open to a news feed, it is fundamentally different by design, and it’s emphasised privacy and safety right from the start.”

In terms of its pivot to performance, Mohan said that the last 18 months have seen a new set of leaders and product engineering, where most of the energy has been spent.

“I think marketers and brands, like the rest of the world, are looking for an alternative social media. I think they’re happy that finally, we are being vocal about it,” he added.

Building positive experiences through the ‘Less Social Media. More Snapchat’ campaign

Snap’s Less Social Media. More Snapchat. campaign was launched earlier this year in the US with a TV spot during the 66th Annual Grammy Awards and a series of out-of-home placements along popular roadways in key US cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Chicago.

Mohan shared that the new brand platform resonated with many, particularly with parents and communities. He also noted that people want to leverage technology to build positive experiences on the platform, to connect, have fun, be entertained, and be informed.

He added that many clients have resonated with the campaign, particularly marketers who want the utility of what social media has delivered but leverage platforms that can provide that utility that is “good for the world.”

Mohan said the campaign will continue to be developed and expanded in the year ahead. “It goes back to being willing to show the contrast more so than we have been. I think we’ll continue to do that, and we’ll continue to do that around the world,” he added.

While Snapchat’s demographic ranges from 13 to 34-year-olds, it is primarily appreciated by many Gen Z audiences, with 90% of its community being more than 17 years old, according to Mohan.

We are younger than other platforms, and we are the home of Gen Z. But we are also older than people sometimes assume us to be. The bulk of our community is about 25 years old as well.”

But regardless of age bracket, Mohan highlighted privacy and safety as central to its “visual and fun proposition.”

Turning value into ‘improved financial performance’

While economic headwinds continue to cause chaos for some, Snap’s financial results for Q1 2024 indicate positive results. Revenue was $1,195 million, compared to $989 million last year, up 21% year over year. Daily active users increased 10% year over year to 422 million.

CEO Evan Spiegel said at the time: “The value we provide our community and advertising partners has translated into improved financial performance.

“Our large, growing, and hard-to-reach community, brand-safe environment, and full-funnel advertising solutions have made us an increasingly important partner for businesses of all sizes.”

Mohan said that from an APAC perspective, though relatively new, the region also had positive results in revenue and community growth. Snap’s presence in the region – comprised of Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, and India, including a hub in Singapore – has seen a 40% growth over recent months.

He highlighted last year’s appointment of Tony Keusgen as managing director and the continued investment in engineering and operations on the business front as part of this growth. Mohan said that unlike 20 years ago, when innovation was more centred in the West, it now comes from places such as Japan, China, India, and Australia.

‘We have an alternative to offer to the world’

Mohan projected a positive outlook for Snap in the APAC region. He noted that the last 15 months have seen hard work on establishing a solid foundation, knowing where to place bets, thinking through investments in growing a community and working with creators in localising the product.

He added that Snap will have announcements and innovations to share at its Partner Summit in Los Angeles in September.

Mohan reiterated that Snap has an important role in today’s social media context and communities worldwide.

The onus is on us to prove we are the alternative and to provide clarity on the alternative to the stakeholders. Whether those stakeholders are the communities we serve, a relatively young population of creators we work with or the advertisers who use our platforms.

“We have an alternative to offer to the world, and we need to make sure that the world is aware of the alternative to social media.”

Top image: Ajit Mohan

To Top