In January, Snapchat launched Discover, a partnership between the visual mobile messaging app and publishers to distribute exclusive content. This mobile publishing experiment is part of Snapchat’s transition away from a content sharing platform, to a destination for consuming content.
Snapchat’s publishing partners for the initial launch of Discover included CNN, Yahoo, Warner Music, People Magazine and National Geographic. By many accounts, the experiment has been a success in terms of referral traffic from Snapchat to its publishing partners. Recently though, a few members of the media establishment — namely Yahoo and Warner Music — were swapped out in favor of digital properties such as BuzzFeed, iHeartRadio and much more recently Mashable and Refinery29.
The addition of new media companies seems well-suited for the young and mobile Snapchat audience. The partnership with BuzzFeed was followed shortly with an announcement that a deal between the breakout digital publisher and NBCUniversal was in the works. The deal would result in a BuzzFeed valuation of $1.5 billion. In fact, the digital media industry is booming, which may be evidence that new media publishers have cracked the code for delivering content young audiences want to consume. Snapchat Discover offers publishers a way to reach this audience within an app they already use and love. This native experience has become key to the BuzzFeed strategy, which includes hiring specialists to create content specifically for Snapchat.
CNN and National Geographic have also hired Snapchat specialists and are among the legacy publishers who seem to have built a strong and engaged following on Discover. While many publishers likely repurpose content for Snapchat, perhaps what BuzzFeed and National Geographic (which is also pretty popular on other visual platforms like Instagram ) have in common is that they are serious about understanding the medium and creating content with the mobile audience in mind.
The early success of Snapchat Discover also validates data indicating a shift in how younger audiences consume content. While millennials and digital natives still consume a good portion of the content on desktop or laptop computers, one survey found that more than 50 percent of this young demographic are consuming content from mobile devices.
In the end, the publishers who understand how and where to connect with increasingly mobile audiences are most likely to survive when the dust of the mobile revolution clears. These same publishers will be set to influence the digital native generation as they make the transition from teenagers, to young adults, to industry and cultural leaders in their own right.