Can Snapchat Really Compete With Facebook?

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Social media has long been a battlefield, with each platform looking to copycat the other or undermine the competition to gain more traffic and users. In the most recent case of this we saw that Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) is looking to clone the Snapchat platform through its WhatsApp messaging service. WhatsApp launched this feature, called Status on Monday, which more or less mimics the Snapchat Stories feature.

Facebook is notorious for taking from other platforms and working them to its own. In fact this social media giant has been the best at doing this.

In the past we saw Facebook institute a trending stories feature on its newsfeed page, eerily similar to the setup and the hashtags that Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) pioneered. However, it would appear that Zuckerberg is now setting his sights on Snapchat.

The WhatsApp feature allows users to share photos and videos with their contacts. Users can even add captions, emojis and stickers. Like the Snapchat platform, photos delete themselves within 24 hours.

What separates these two companies is their user base. According to a recent conjecture, WhatsApp has roughly 500 million users, give or take. In a recent filing for the company’s initial public offering (IPO), Snapchat said that it had on average 158 million daily users with over 2.5 billion Snaps created each day.

Although WhatsApp is a subsidiary of Facebook, it doesn’t have Facebook’s massive user base of nearly 1.9 billion monthly active users. The numbers also show that Snapchat’s user base is less than 10% of Facebook’s and less than one-third of WhatsApp.

The main question to ask in this situation is how much of the worldwide mobile advertising revenue can Snapchat grab from Facebook? And will this number start to fall now that Facebook is directly competing with the firm?

Snapchat detailed its outlook in a recent SEC filing:

Worldwide advertising spend is expected to grow from $652 billion in 2016 to $767 billion in 2020. The fastest growing segment is mobile advertising, which is expected to grow nearly 3x from $66 billion in 2016 to $196 billion in 2020. We believe that one of the major factors driving this growth is the shift of people’s attention from their televisions to their mobile phones. This trend is particularly pronounced among the younger demographic, where our Daily Active Users tend to be concentrated. According to Nielsen, people between the ages of 18 and 24 spent 35% less time watching traditional (live and time-shifted) television in an average month during the second quarter of 2016 compared to the second quarter of 2010.

Facebook shares were last seen at $133.17 on Tuesday, with a consensus analyst price target of $159.72 and a 52-week trading range of $102.74 to $135.49.

Shares of Twitter were down 1.3% at $16.40. The stock has a 52-week range of $13.73 to $25.25 and a consensus price target of $14.32.