LOS ANGELES: Snapchat, the image-messaging app which is estimated to have 173m active users, is launching an initiative to encourage startups to grow their business by advertising on the platform.

First reported by Business Insider, a Snapchat spokesperson confirmed that the company is looking to partner with startups at various stages of their growth.

These are most likely to include mobile startups focused on performance-based, direct response marketing strategies, mobile commerce, gaming and mobile app developers seeking to acquire new users.

Called Snap Accelerate, the initiative offers mobile startups a range of benefits organised at three different levels, starting with “Kickstart”, then “Sprint” and leading on to “Scale”.

Benefits include free branded filters, early access to Snap products and tools, a creative services credit and media coupons, which are worth $10,000 at the Kickstart stage, rising to $100,000 for those at Scale.

Business Insider cited Aaptiv, an audio fitness app, as at least one company that has used Snapchat as part of its marketing strategy and which will be taking part in the Snap Accelerate program.

“For startups like ours to be successful, we need both an excellent product as well as an innovative way to target our audience,” said Ethan Agarwal, founder and CEO at Aaptiv.

“We understand how mobile content works and so does Snapchat, and their audience is the perfect audience for us to expand to as we seek a larger set of users.”

According to industry experts, Snapchat stands to gain long-term benefits if the initiative proves successful, not least in its struggle with social giants such as Facebook and Google.

“This a good move for Snapchat because, ultimately, the more people who try the platform, the higher the likelihood that an advertiser is going to see success on the platform and continue investing money with them,” said Jeremy Leon, VP of Strategy at agency Laundry Service. “It’s all about proving that there’s a positive ROI there.”

Tom Buontempo, President of social marketing agency Attention, agreed that startups could become an important part of Snapchat’s advertising strategy.

He said: “Snapchat is trying to be strategic in how they drive their revenue growth – by leaning into the investor community and startups instead of trying to fight the narrative and modify the behaviour that Facebook, Google and Amazon have managed to create.”

Sourced from Business Insider; additional content by WARC staff