Snapchat headquarters on the Strand at Venice Beach in Los Angeles.
Photograph by Patrick Fallon — Bloomberg/Getty Images
By Benjamin Snyder
October 17, 2014

Snapchat, the messaging app, is finally trying to capitalize on its popularity with millions of users to make some money.

The start-up plans to include ads on its service for the first time since its founding three years ago.

“It’s going to feel a little weird at first, but we’re taking the plunge,” the company said in a blog post on Friday. The reason the company gave was unsurprising, although notable for its bluntness: “We need to make money.”

Video ads will begin appearing for U.S. users this weekend in the “recent updates” section. Expecting criticism for the decision, Snapchat made clear that the ads won’t force users to watch content they’d rather not see.

“An advertisement will appear in your Recent Updates from time to time, and you can choose if you want to watch it,” the company said. “No biggie.”

Snapchat has quickly gained millions of users of its service, which is best known for letting people send messages that disappear after a few seconds. But it had avoided pushing advertising on them like many social media companies like Twitter and Facebook.

There was no word on which companies would use Snapchat to market themselves. Individual ads will apparently vanish after a day.

Snapchat’s decision to begin advertising comes at a time in which mobile ads rake in higher revenue than ever before in the U.S., according to eMarketer, a market research company. “Mobile advertising will total $18.99 billion in the US this year,” a statement reads. That’s “up 78% from $10.67 billion in 2013.”

For instance, Facebook (FB) is slated to grab a 17.7% share of the US mobile ad market this year, while Twitter has 3.5%, according to eMarketer estimates.

In 2013, Facebook tried to buy Snapchat for $3 billion only to be rebuffed. More recently this month, the company has reportedly been in talks with Yahoo.

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