Earlier this week, Snapchat announced Snapchat Discover, wherein the burgeoning — and well funded — startup collaborates with “world-class leaders in media” to turn the app into a destination for consuming content.
Since Snapchat has always hosted content, this may not seem like a major change in direction. In fact, Snapchat notes in the official blog post that “Discover is new, but familiar,” because Stories — meaning narratives — are the core.
The big change is in the shift from Snapchat being a place where users share personal stories and content, to Snapchat becoming a platform where users can consume content. According to Orli LeWinter, VP of Strategy and Social Media at digital agency 360i, “Snapchat is turning its platform into content destination for mobile age.”
Snapchat has a highly engaged audience of tens-of-millions of millennials for whom, Snapchat is their No. 1 app. And while millennials seem uninterested in consuming content from traditional media companies, LeWinter says that since younger audiences don’t distinguish between screens, the challenge one of distribution rather than content:
The mechanism is secondary. [Millennials] don’t care if they’re watching something on the TV or anywhere else. They just want it to be convenient and in their hand. Content producers have struggled to understand that, and they’ve always started with TV first. The millennial audience isn’t necessarily thinking that way. [They want] to consume the coolest, most interesting content, in a convenient way.
Discover also opens new doors for marketers using Snapchat. Previously brand participation was limited to creating a profile and sending Snaps to followers — and you couldn’t even advertise on the platform to attract more followers. LeWinter says Discover provides an opportunity to work directly with publishers for contextual and targeted placement:
There’s been very limited targeting on Snapchat to date. Now, with Discover, you’re able to target based on interest and quasi-demo.
She added that the ad format is also different. Where previously the format was native advertising, “From what we’ve seen so far, the ads appear like interstitials of content.”
In this way, Discover seems to integrate the digital advertising model into a mobile medium for reaching a mobile audience. Still, LeWinter acknowledges that there’s still value in advertising directly through the Snapchat for exclusive placement.
You get an immense amount of scale with their tens-of-millions of users, which you’re not going to get in Discover, which is a much more fragmented audience.