Snapchat tweak boosts traffic for publishers: 'Our views have doubled'

Snapchat is getting more love from publishers since it changed its design to make content more conspicuous.

The messaging app popular among teens launched its Discover feature in January with 11 publishers, but users had to swipe twice to get to their content, making it difficult to, well, discover. Traffic reportedly dropped off 30 to 50 percent three months after the initial push. It’s in Snapchat’s interest to make the content as viewable as possible now that it’s trying to derive revenue from Discover by running ads in the content, though. So two weeks ago, Snapchat updated the design to make the Discover channels visible in the “Stories” tab, which is just one swipe away from the home screen.

Snapchat claims 100 million daily users, and a Snapchat rep said in the 30 days including the design change, 50 million visited the Discover section. Snapchat wouldn’t say what the viewership was before the change, though, only that “we’re very happy with the engagement.” The company also contends that half of U.S. Snapchatters who open a channel will view it to completion and that some users are spending as much as seven minutes a day on a given channel.

Snapchat is notoriously buttoned-up with the press, and publishers who were part of the Discover launch said they’re under instructions from the app not to share their viewership. But several said they had seen a positive impact. “Our views have doubled,” said one, speaking anonymously.

“Obviously a more prominent placement leads to more traffic,” said another publisher, Jon Steinberg, the North American CEO of Daily Mail. One of Snapchat’s most vocal boosters, Steinberg added that he continues to be “thrilled” with the results he’s getting from the app.

A third, Hearst Magazines’ Cosmopolitan, claimed that the women’s magazine has been a top performer on Discover in terms of audience and engagement. Since the design change, traffic to the channel is up more than 70 percent, exceeding its expectations, and some pieces of content have been shared “upwards of 200,000” times, said Troy Young, president of digital media for Hearst.

Snapchat also recently added the ability for publishers to make their Discover articles and videos sharable when a user presses the screen. That’s been a factor in the boost in views for publishers like CNN and Daily Mail that are taking advantage of the feature.

“In a platform where sharing with friends is key, the ability to share snaps with one or more groups of people is also part of the rise in numbers,” said Samantha Barry, head of social news for CNN, on CNN’s increase on views on Snapchat since the design tweak.

If Snapchat gives publishers the ability to reach coveted young readers, one obvious criticism is that the media companies see no direct traffic benefit. Steinberg said that Snapchat has many upsides as an ad platform, though. “It’s 100 percent viewable,” he said. “It’s aggressively priced at 2 cents [the price Snapchat charts for a 10-second video ad view]. We can sell directly into the channel. It’s not just like remnant — it’s worth it.”