Tue, May 09, 2017 - Page 11 News List

Discover is Snapchat’s bright spot

NY Times News Service, SAN FRANCISCO

A woman stands in front of the logo of Snap Inc on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange while waiting for the company to post its offering in New York on March 2.

Photo: Reuters

When Snapchat unveiled Discover, a place in the messaging app where media companies can publish original stories, one of the publishers that jumped to get onto the platform was the Web site Mashable.

Mashable quickly sank time and money into making daily videos and stories for Discover to appeal to Snapchat’s young audience. The work — which, like almost everything on Snapchat, disappeared after 24 hours — was costly for Mashable.

Even so, Mashable is today making money off Discover under a partnership with Snapchat’s parent company, Snap Inc, to sell ads alongside its videos and stories. Mashable now counts Discover as an important source of revenue.

“Snap has given us a valuable, loyal, young audience of millions who can be hard to reach on other platforms,” Mashable chief content officer Greg Gittrich said. “It’s very profitable for us.”

Mashable’s experience illustrates how Discover has emerged as a bright spot for Snapchat and its parent company.

Discover’s performance is important as Snap, which had its initial public offering in March and is poised to deliver its first earnings as a public company tomorrow, has been under attack from Facebook Inc.

Facebook and its other apps, including the photo-sharing site Instagram, have systematically copied some of Snapchat’s features during the past year. Given Facebook’s immense size — it has 1.3 billion people who interact with the social network or one of its apps each day, compared with about 161 million users for Snapchat — investors are closely watching for whatever might keep Snap distinctive and give it a competitive edge.

Discover, which was introduced in 2015, might be part of the answer.

On Snapchat, Discover resembles a menu of channels, arranged by publisher brand. People can tap on any channel and leaf through that day’s set of stories and videos. More than 100 million Snapchat users view content on Discover each month, the company says.

Signs of success on Discover could help Snap reach more deals for original TV shows, an initiative the company has been building for many months. It could also help keep people loyal to Snapchat, even as the six-year-old company has acknowledged that user growth has been slowing.

Advertisers concerned about their ads running alongside questionable content might pay a premium to be on Discover.

“Our focus is to help our partners develop businesses that are financially significant, and sustainable, in turn funding future investment in quality storytelling,” Snap vice president of content Nick Bell said of Discover.

High-quality storytelling on Discover should also help build a highly engaged and loyal audience on Snapchat, he said.

Although Snapchat’s number of users is smaller than Facebook’s, publishers said they can still reach a lot of people on Discover.

Steven Kydd, a founder of Tastemade, a digital food and lifestyle publication, said his company gets more than 1 billion views a month on Discover and people do not just skip over the videos and stories — more than 28 percent of viewers in the US visit Tastemade’s Discover channel at least five days a week, he said, and his daily audience has grown more than 4.5 times as large over the past year.

As a result, Tastemade has created a studio it can use to make daily videos for Discover, which are produced in eight languages across three channels in the US, Britain and France.

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