How top publishers are using Snapchat

Snapchat’s Discover has been out in the wild for only a few days, but publishers have already gotten a glimpse at how it’s going to change their distribution strategies. The early verdict: The messaging service’s new media feature is going to be a big deal.

“I can’t tell you what the numbers are, but they’re fucking incredible,” said one publishing executive, requesting anonymity. Snapchat is sharing with publishers data that includes both how many unique Snapchat users read their snaps and how long they spend doing so.

Discover launched Jan. 27 with 11 publishers, all of which are taking different approaches as they figure out what resonates with their new audience. Here’s how publishers have approached Discover in its early days.



Why Snapchat: “They have a massive audience that’s passionate and engaged, but it’s not one that CNN is reaching on a day-to-day basis,” said CNN Digital general manager Andrew Morse. “Most traditional broadcasters aren’t.”

The content mix: CNN posted a mix of existing content — including international stories, entertainment news and political coverage — in text and video form. It has also experimented with creating Snapchat-exclusive interactives, such as one it made about the Supreme Court. “It’s a really dynamic experience,” Morse said.

Publishing schedule: CNN is publishing five stories on Snapchat each morning.

Brand sponsors: BMW is CNN’s only Snapchat advertiser so far.


cosmo-snapchatWhy Snapchat: “Snapchat is where a lot of our audience is,” said Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Joanna Coles. “I have two teenagers, and after seeing the connection they had with Snapchat, it became clear that this was a good idea for a partnership.”

The content mix: Cosmo’s Snapchat content, which it adapts from previously created content, is a mix of articles, video and original animations. “It’s a daily collection of our best stuff. It’s meant to be a lively, fun intro to Cosmo if you don’t know the brand,” Coles said.

Publishing schedule: Cosmo publishes five articles at 8 a.m. each day, though it has experimented with pushing that number up to 10.

Brand Sponsors: Pink, Starbucks and Sperry.


National Geographic

natgeo-snapchatWhy Snapchat: “We think it’s a great platform to reach new audiences,” said National Geographic social media vp Raj Mody. “It puts us in front of a great group of young people and gives us a chance to speak to our strengths in photography, video and social.”

The content mix: National Geographic’s content is a mix of short-form video, articles and photo-driven stories about travel and adventure. It has also experimented with creating original Snapchat quizzes, such as one that it posted Tuesday that asked why Joan of Arc was burned at the stake.

Publishing schedule: National Geographic publishers five snaps a day on Snapchat at 8 a.m. “We like the idea of people being able to wake up and check this first thing in the morning,” Mody said, adding that the approach will likely change over time.

Brand sponsors: Mody said that National Geographic hasn’t yet run any advertising deals but that its sales team has a few deals in the works.



Why Snapchat: “The demographic on Snapchat is much different from the demographic that’s reading People right now,” said Time Inc. executive business director Joseph LaFalce. “We want to tap into that and create that new generation of loyal readers.”

The content mix: People has repurposed its existing videos and articles, which it illustrates with large images and animations. While it isn’t yet creating Snapchat-exclusive content, People could soon create Snapchat editions around its tentpole print issues such as “The Sexiest Man Alive” and “Most Beautiful.”

Publishing schedule: People’s Snapchat editions go live at noon and include five to 10 snaps per day. “The idea is to do a roundup of what happened the day before and program in those big stories happening in the morning,” LaFalce said.

Brand sponsors: LaFalce said People hasn’t sold any advertising yet but is close to sealing a few deals.

The Daily Mail


Why Snapchat: “Among the pantheon of platforms, it’s the closest thing to a cable network. There’s actual programming involved here,” said Daily Mail North America CEO Jon Steinberg.

The content mix: The Daily Mail’s early Snapchat output looks a lot like what readers might find on its website — albeit with flashy animations, music and sometimes sound effects. It has also experimented with videos exclusive to Snapchat.

Publishing schedule: The Daily Mail is one of the more prolific of the early Snapchat publishers. Its Snapchat editions, which have been posted at 3 p.m., include as many as 14 snaps. Steinberg said that The Daily Mail chose that time in part because it wanted to go live around the time when schools usually let out. He added that The Daily Mail also plans to move to multiple Snapchat editions, which will be published in the early morning or late evening.

Early advertisers: T-Mobile and Stride.



Why Snapchat: “Snapchat for us was a logical partner, given the scale that they have,” said ESPN partnerships VP Raphael Poplock. “It’s mobile-first, and we want to reach sports fans where they are.”

The content mix: Poplock said ESPN wanted to approach the app in a way that was natural to the platform. The company’s Snapchat content includes articles, brief audio clips and video, much of which is short form. “That doesn’t mean we may not test longer form, but the real vision here is that it’s a mobile-first platform, and we believe in short form,” Poplock said, adding that ESPN isn’t yet creating content just for Snapchat.

Publishing schedule: ESPN publishes daily one Snapchat edition, which includes five to 10 stories. Its publishing time is still up in the air, but Poplock said that it could run with noon. ESPN doesn’t have a team that runs its Snapchat operation exclusively.

Early advertisers: Universal Pictures.