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Snapchat's Evan Spiegel Goes to France, Asks for Ad Money and Makes a Video

Snapchat makes a splash at the big Cannes advertising festival.

Snapchat via YouTube
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

It’s a rite of passage for a young, booming social media company: You get on a long flight from California to France, head down to the annual advertising festival in Cannes and tell marketers that you know what young people are up to. And that you’re happy to help marketers find them.

Twitter’s Biz Stone did it, way back when Biz Stone was at Twitter. Mark Zuckerberg did it. This year it’s Evan Spiegel’s turn.

The Snapchat founder sat down for an interview with Cosmopolitan editor Joanna Coles, who talked about dick pics; after that, Spiegel used his time to talk up the virtues of Snapchat’s new video ads.

He also explained that Snapchat makes lots of crummy stuff. It just tries to keep it private (see what I did there?). Via VentureBeat: “I would say [we] probably release about one percent of the products we’re working on.” Spiegel said. “We build stuff all the time that’s never released. It’s just terrible.”

One big difference between Spiegel and some of the other young tech Turks that have come to Cannes is that Spiegel has always seemed interested in building an actual advertising business. That doesn’t make him a polished pitchman, but I think he is much more effective than some of his peers because he really does want to make the sale.

Here’s a video about video ads that Spiegel put out this morning in conjunction with his Cannes appearance. It’s not slick — TechCrunch slyly referred to it as “Dadvertising” in the URL of its story — and I suppose it’s possible that it’s a wry Tim and Eric-style parody of ads about ads.

More likely is that it’s straightahead and sincere, in a Reed Hastings in the parking lot kind of way. And my hunch is that he’ll have plenty of buyers willing to experiment.

But do note the part where Spiegel explains that targeting users based on the data they generate — the holy grail of advertising for the last 15 years — is creepy and that Snapchat is above all of that.

That could be an issue down the line.

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