One app to rule them all? Instagram continues to battle Snapchat for primacy.

Social media marketers aren’t the only ones chasing big goals in 2017. Just three weeks into the year, we’ve seen several feature updates as Instagram and Snapchat, in particular, battle for supremacy on users’ home screens.

Instagram monetizes Stories.

Instagram is making headlines once again, as they report their Stories feature is up to 150 million daily active users — matching the use of their rival in the ephemeral storytelling space, Snapchat. Along with that milestone, they’ve announced the feature’s monetization. They’re testing immersive, full-screen ads with 30+ retailers in a 15-second, sound-on video ad format.

They also report their Business Tools will now include insights on Stories (both organic and paid), allowing businesses to monitor the reach, impressions, replies and exits for each individual Story. This will help brands and businesses create better and more relevant content for their audiences.
These new features continue Instagram’s update-heavy summer and fall, which saw the launch of Instagram Stories itself, a feed-ranking algorithm, live video broadcasting and ephemeral messages.

Snapchat responds.

Instagram isn’t the only app making moves. Snap Inc. has signed a deal with Oracle Data Cloud to help marketers use data from offline purchases to target consumers with more relevant ads. Following in the footsteps of Google, Facebook and Twitter, this is the first time Snapchat has allowed for ad targeting using third-party data.

The good news for marketers and businesses is that this partnership takes them one step closer to helping them measure whether Snapchat ad campaigns result in real-world sales.

Snapchat also launched a universal search to simplify navigation Jan. 12 to Android and Monday to iOS. The improved search functionality could be a huge benefit to brands and businesses looking to build their Snapchat audience, considering Snapchat’s notoriously dismal past when it comes to guiding users to new, relevant content. Previously, users could only search for other accounts, and the app would surface results that matched the query exactly.

As Snap Inc. heads toward an IPO later this year, expect them to continue to focus on features that generate revenue. For instance, they may incorporate sponsored placements or similar suggested content in search results — all of which will make advertisers come running.

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