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Snapchat Considering Snaps With News, Ads

Disappearing Photos May Lead To Emerging Revenue

Two things are certain about kids these days: they love them some self-destructing photos, and they don’t read the news. Since Snapchat hit our smartphones three years ago it has gathered around 27 million regular users and has developed its own ecosystem of Snapchat celebrities and companies doing unique announcements through the app. While all of this is a lot of fun and great at attracting new users, it doesn’t do the one thing which all companies have to start doing at some point – actually make Snapchat any money.

That may be about to change, however, with the news that the company is in talks with advertisers and media outlets to launch a new service called Snapchat Discovery, which would bring content and ads to Snapchat viewers in disappearing ten second bursts. The feature is slated to launch in November.

On the surface, it looks like a decent move for all involved. Although Snapchat was allegedly in talks with investors that valued it at $10 billion, at some point it’s going to have to show how it might start actually bringing in some real revenue. Plenty of companies, most notably MTV, have had some success in marketing themselves via Snapchat; it seems only reasonable that they would want a slice of it. Concurrently news services are still flailing around trying to deal with the fact that people aren’t really buying newspapers or watching TV any more, so anything which promises a way of delivering content which people will actually look at is going to appeal to them.

The development may also help Snapchat deal with its lingering reputation as a facilitator for scurrilous teens looking to send naughty pictures to each other – although not too much, as scurrilous teens are still a very valuable demographic.

The most immediate problem will be the nature of the content which third parties hope to deliver. The maximum length of time which a snap can be viewed is ten seconds, which is about enough time to read a headline and look at a picture. The state of modern news reportage is pretty dire, but we’re hopefully not at the stage where all stories are six words long…yet. Presumably those paying for the privilege of having their material distributed via Snapchat will want the service to include some way of directing users to an external site, which is difficult with the app’s current UI and somewhat at odds with the notions of simplicity and immediacy which built its current popularity.

There are suggestions that Snapchat Discovery could be a standalone app, but considering the fury directed at Facebook for forcing users to download a separate app for its messaging service it seems unlikely Snapchat users will be too amenable to this proposition.

There is a small start-up called NowThisNews which does something similar, sending subscribers snaps which consist of news stories written using Snapchat’s drawing tool over a relevant image. It’s not particularly well done or popular, however, and one hopes that any deals which Snapchat does end up making will be done with a little more sophistication.


Douglas is an English Literature graduate who has written about everything from music to food to theatre, now a content creator for Social Media Frontiers. No topic too large or too small. Follow him @DouglasAtSMF.

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Snapchat Considering Snaps With News, Ads Reviewed by Anonymous on Friday, August 22, 2014 Rating: 5
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