Snap took a moment for a victory lap on Tuesday with an expensive-looking presentation for advertisers at the Rose Theater in Lincoln Center—trays of champagne, floor-to-ceiling banners with its ghost logo, special guest stars like Simone Biles, the Olympian, and Addison Rae, the social media celebrity.
The session was a so-called NewFront, an annual series of meetings between advertisers and the companies that rely on the revenue from selling ads in which the latter try hard to encourage the former to spend even more money during the second half of the year. It was the first time Snap has hosted one in person, and it amounts to a telling moment for the company, which seems to have quiet a bit going for it right now: Sales expanded 38% in the first quarter to $1.1 billion, far outpacing growth at Meta (7%) and Twitter (16%).
The chief way for companies like Snap to win over advertisers’ attention—and then their budgets—is to announce shiny new things. One in particular from Tuesday stands out: Snap has struck a new deal with Cameo, an increasingly hard to define creator-economy startup. Cameo started as a web-based marketplace for booking celebrities for custom messages, a Cameo, and has ambitions to further broaden its business.
Through the partnership, an advertiser on Snap—like a Mattress Firm or Kraft, two companies that piloted the program—can book a celebrity available on Cameo. Snap plays middle man, matching advertiser with celeb. Cameo takes up the role of talent agency, suggesting who it feels may be the best fit.
“Cameos are shot selfie style, they look like Snaps,” says Peter Naylor, a Snap vice president of sales. “I think advertisers will be all over this. Cameo and Snap make sense together.”
Cameo, founded in 2016, has done a remarkable of job of securing a place for itself, something like a Hallmark for a younger generation. (Good enough for a valuation over $1 billion and $166 million in total funding from SoftBank, Kleiner Perkins, LightSpeed and others.) But it is experimenting with how it might further expand its reach into talent management and booking, simplifying the two while taking a cut of earnings. It will work with companies to book stars on its platform for in-person events, voiceovers and other marketing events. Also worth noting: Cameo is enjoying a different relationship with Snap than with the other large social media companies, which have attempted to press their thumbs down on Cameo. Meta and TikTok are both working on their own talent-booking marketplaces.
More and more these days, Snap gets to enjoy the disparity between itself and Meta. Meta is just now rushing toward augmented- and virtual-reality technology—something Snap has been concentrating on for several years prior—and remains weighed down by concerns about what content spreads on its app, a problem that Snap doesn’t face in the same way.
But Meta still significantly beats out Snap’s monetization efforts. The Facebook parent company takes in over $40 annually per user, while Snap does about a tenth of that. It would like to narrow the gap and hopes new offerings like ads with Cameo stars helps it do that. It’s the same reason that it arranged for Rae to speak on Thursday—shortly after Loren Gray and ahead of a pre-recorded video message from Charli and Dixie D’Amelio. With these stars and Cameo, Snap seeks to reinforce an image of youthful coolness, implicitly contrasting it with Meta’s struggle to stay relevant. That, and some champagne, might get the ad dollars flowing even further.