How new Snapchat boss plans to increase its reach

Snapchat’s new Australian boss says the multimedia messaging platform is more than just an app for kids, releasing data showing 45 per cent of its eight million monthly active users in Australia are older than 25.

Tony Keusgen joined Snap, the parent company of the 12-year-old multimedia messaging app, in May, ending a 20-month stint as data and tech company Quantium’s global chief customer officer. Despite perceptions the app is just for teens, Keusgen claims Snapchat “owns the under 40 space”.

Tony Keusgen, the new managing director of Snap Inc
Tony Keusgen, the new managing director of Snap IncCredit: Janie Barrett

About 75 per cent of Australians aged between 13-24 use Snapchat on a monthly basis, he says, with users opening the app 40 times a day on average. Of its eight million monthly active users in Australia, 45 per cent are above 25 years of age, new data from the company shows.

While working at Google and YouTube before Snap, Keusgen’s kids thought he was “super cool”, yet having now taken up the role as the app’s managing director across Australia and New Zealand, it’s “a whole other level”.

“What I knew about Snap beforehand was very much what I’d experienced in my living room with my two teenagers,” Keusgen says in his first interview since taking on the job. “What I did see was prolific use of the app, and that it’s really was an imperative to teenagers.”

On joining, he realised his perception, one shared by most parents, that it was largely skewed towards teenagers was a myth.

Snapchat’s new boss says the app is not just for teens.
Snapchat’s new boss says the app is not just for teens.Credit: Bloomberg

“What I came to learn in the early stages was the scale was much larger than I’d anticipated. Almost one in three Australians are on Snapchat.”

Snapchat is primarily a communications app, its messaging services being the main reason three-quarters of its base utilises it so often, with disappearing messages, “bitmoji” characters and the ability to track friends being popular features among its users.


Its stickiness, he says is due to its unique features compared to other social media apps. Its lack of likes, comments and feedback on users’ appearances and popularity makes for a more authentic experience, he claims.

While taking the scope of the survey with a pinch of salt, a Snapchat report in 2022 found 91 per cent of users “feel happier” on the app compared to other social media platforms, largely due to the lack of noise and negativity that often comes with the popularity contest on other apps.

Growing the audience isn’t a worry for Keusgen in an already competitive environment.
Growing the audience isn’t a worry for Keusgen in an already competitive environment.Credit: AP

This has a commercial halo effect too, Keusgen says, with more “progressive advertisers” wanting to reach audiences in this environment. He name checks the likes of Apple, Amazon and Uber as key spenders, and brands typically more selective about where they want to play.

Advertisers are still trying to figure out how to connect with the consumer of the future, Keusgen says, and with traditional media channels, such as television and radio increasingly reserved for older audiences, the under-40s are “the hard ones to reach”.

A recent campaign launch for Uber Eats’ “Get almost, almost anything″⁣ platform reached two million Australians in a day on Snapchat, he says.

“Trying to be all things to all people is not what we’re trying to be,” Keusgen says, talking up its prospects in an increasingly saturated ecosystem.

Meta recently added Threads, nicknamed the Twitter killer, to its suite of apps. It got off to an explosive start, with 49 million active users just two days after its launch, since having dropped off significantly, while WeAre8, launched in 2022 locally in another attempt to move away from the toxicity of social media having also failed to gain significant traction.

“I’m not concerned with getting focused on growing Snap’s user base,” Keusgen says. “Eight million is a super exciting base which you can build a business on, and I think we’re already at a very exciting and relevant point.”

Globally, Snap has placed emphasis on overhauling its advertising platform to boost revenue, co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel saying the company is “excited” by the progress made in delivering increased return on ad partner investment despite a dip in second quarter revenue.

TikTok (8.5m monthly users) and Snapchat are increasingly the choice for younger Australians, yet Keusgen says the latter offers a number of “unduplicated opportunities” for brand partners, with 48 per cent of its users not using TikTok daily, he says.

Snapchat has teamed up with the AEC ahead of this year’s referendum.
Snapchat has teamed up with the AEC ahead of this year’s referendum.

Fourteen weeks in, Keusgen says continuing the ad push is No.1 on his agenda, “making sure that every brand in Australia who really wants to connect with 40s and under is aware and is engaged with using Snapchat as the means by which they do that”.

The platform is also hoping to use its access to younger audiences positively, partnering with the Australian Electoral Commission this month to help young Australians educate themselves on the Voice to Parliament referendum.

“We’re really privileged to be trusted with that from the AEC,” he says. “This has been a vote of confidence in the authenticity of the platform that we run, and we take that really seriously.”

“It’s such an exciting time for the nation, and the purpose of the campaign is to make sure that the AEC do everything they can to educate young people on how to go and vote in the referendum, and what it’s all about. It’s not about taking sides and guidance around outcomes, it’s about getting people to the polling booths.”

While the new gig has given Keusgen increased cache with his two teens, he isn’t taking the perks of the job too far despite both teens “demanding” to use Snaphat+, the platform’s added subscription service, which, he says, he has opted to pay for himself.

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