Snapchat is making some serious waves down in Southern California. The burgeoning company started out humbly, hoping to provide a way for people to sext and send nudes without leaving any bread crumbs, and now is providing users with content that is a lot less sexual (and less full of local snapchat sluts) and a whole lot more informative.
The Discover feature on Snapchat allows users to see content created by media outlets such as the Daily Mail, ESPN, Comedy Central, Vice, Yahoo, and CNN, all specifically curated for Snapchat. That means content will be short, ephemeral, and, most importantly to CEO Evan Spiegel, vertical.
So far, this content is awesome. When I view the content that ESPN posts, for example, I get all the highlights, breaking stories, and stats of the day, and all very quickly.
When I watch ESPN on TV, it’s totally different. Of course, it’s way longer, but the information is spread throughout the whole show, so you have to stick around to see that highlight of last night’s game or hear about new free agency developments.
This makes me not want to watch ESPN like I used to, and now I generally stick to Snapchat or the vast resources of the internet to get the content I want to see. Overall, Snapchat provides the content that people want to see, and does it in a very short amount of time; I should be able to read/watch what I need to read/watch and get on with my life, right?
Snapchat blew me away when this feature was first introduced. No way would I have ever envisioned a company like Snapchat providing content to it’s users in this fashion, and of this quality.
It’s crazy enough that such a young company could come up with such a brilliant idea and execute it so well on the first try, but to get huge media companies to team up with them and provide content that isn’t ruining how we use Snapchat is totally awesome.
It’s like the old corporate guy smoked a joint with the cool college kid and they both brought good weed. It’s a great situation where both people brought something to the table and created something that’s really innovative and awesome.
But hold on just a second; Snapchat is free, and the content I view on via SnapChat Discover is totally free to me. So how did Snapchat get these media giants to create content just for Snapchat users to view?
Well, think of that free game you downloaded off the app store. There’s plenty of ads on that, and that’s how the app’s creators make money, other than in-app purchases.
There’s a good chance you’ve seen an ad or two on Snapchat, whether it’s in content on Discover or on a Live Story for an event or a location. These ads seem to come out of nowhere, and that’s the way Snapchat wants it.
When I first saw one, I didn’t realize that it was an ad until I recognized an actor in the ad which was promoting a film. It was on a Live Story of user-generated content from Barcelona, and I was kinda weirded out for a few moments.
Clearly, the movie trailer that was full of action and dinosaurs (you know which movie) didn’t belong among snaps from people in the Spanish city, and I started to wonder if Snapchat had thought much about these ads and where they’ll go, and how annoying they could be.
So far to my knowledge and experience, ads in Snapchat content are few and far between; it’s not like you watch a Live Story and see an ad for every few genuine posts. I’ve only seen one ad per Live Story or one ad in the content that Daily Mail curates each day, which is fine with me.
But like most ads, they will get annoying the more they are seen, so Snapchat needs to keep the ads to a minimum. CEO Evan Spiegel wants the ads to not even seem like ads; he wants them to blend in with the content that the user is viewing, and make them as appear natural as possible.
Tide recently had an ad that featured dads doing dad stuff, and the ads seemed like they were content created by actual Snapchat users – which they were. You see, this is something that millennials and teens won’t mind; if it looks like it belongs in Snapchat, they’ll view it.
Most ads these days you have to watch all the way through or skip after a few grueling seconds; Snapchat’s ads, on the other hand, are totally skippable- just swipe to the left and it’s gone.
This makes me wonder, though- will these ads always be skippable? Will there be more of them, with fewer breaks in between?
Will they keep their original and genuine vibe? Or will they just become blatant ads that we will all hate and make us consider leaving Snapchat altogether?
Well, I for one don’t think so. Spiegel himself said that he doesn’t want the ads to be so invasive and targeted. His actual words were “creepy”, which is the same term that we’d all use for ads we see these days.
Snapchat doesn’t want to start targeting its users with ads, and this is something that team Snapchat knows it’s users will come to thank them for. The only “targeting” that Snapchat will allow is something like a Maybelline ad mixed in with the content that Cosmopolitan uploads to Discover (which it has done).
I think Snapchat users won’t mind this, since it’s just advertising based on the sex of the individual who views certain content. Girls are more likely to view the content Cosmopolitan puts up, so ads there will feature products that girls and women would buy.
Spiegel won’t ever let it get to the point where you see an ad curated just for you, trust me. These ads might not always be skippable, though, and they may be seen more frequently than they are now.
But as long as they aren’t focused on our own lives, or use information that is intimate to us, these ads shouldn’t be much of a bother. I just look at it as a way for a company to earn the revenue that it genuinely deserves.
The content we all see on Snapchat is authentic, ephemeral, and vertical. Let’s hope the ads we see stay short, skippable, and as un-intrusive as possible.
Snapchat already has something great; why risk ruining it? Here’s to hoping money doesn’t make Snapchat super annoying.