Snapchat Discover is a crowded field right now with the more than 100 media outlets ranging from hard news publishers such as The New York Times and NBC News to meme accounts Daquan and FJerry. The Dodo has managed to stick out by focusing on something the internet has always loved: animals.
Nearly two years after its launch on Discover, The Dodo has a daily channel, curates a public story and has produced three shows for Snapchat. Overall, The Dodo reaches 33 million unique viewers per month, the publisher said. Its daily channel alone has 5 million subscribers.
The endeavor is also profitable, said YuJung Kim, president of The Dodo. This is partially because The Dodo’s Snapchat efforts are supported by the same size of “eight to nine” people — and as its Snapchat audience continues to grow, so does the revenue.
The Dodo is consistently seeing growth in both unique viewers, returning viewers and subscribers on its Discover channels. Kim attributed to this to the fact that they know what works and what doesn’t on Discover. For instance, some of the top performing editions aren’t about your standard household pets, but rather exotic animals. A June 2 edition of its daily channel about white tigers — specifically their health problems like crossed eyes and scoliosis — drew nearly 25 percent more unique viewers than average and led to about 20,000 new subscribers over that day, the company said.
“It has been really promising to see [Snapchat] defying the stereotype of a teenage audience,” said Kim. “For animals, the low-hanging fruit was cute fluffy animals, and while we do have some of that, we have found the more substantive, poignant stories tend to outperform. Like with anything you go through, it’s mixing the lighthearted fair with something heavier.”
Snapchat Discover has become a much larger beast over the last two years. Since launching in January 2015, Discover has grown from 11 media outlets to more than 100. Professionally made content ranges from daily and weekly publisher editions to TV-like video shows created by Hollywood studios. That growth has caused some backlash from remaining Snapchat users who are seeing more tabloid content. BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield has been tracking the curious cases of Snapchat content, like this naked Spider-man and this “botched Brazilian lift.” For The Dodo, being surrounded by tabloid content didn’t come as a concern at the moment. (Though some of The Dodo’s editions could be labeled as clickbait with titles such as “When You See It, You’ll Scream,” “WATCH: Cuttlefish Have Sex Using Their HEADS,” and “WATCH: Spider Sex Is Scary,” they’re not misleading.)
“All four Group Nine brands are proud of the fact we’re rooted in a purpose. I don’t think there’s a natural place for tabloid content [for us], and the ubiquity of tabloid content gives us even more incentive to rise above the Kardashians,” Kim said.
Along with the daily edition, The Dodo has produced three shows for Snapchat Discover: “Little But Fierce” (which is on its second, 10-episode season), “Odd Couples” (which is on its third, 10-episode season) and “Pittie Nation” (which is on its first, 10-episode season).
To evaluate performance of all this content, The Dodo pays close attention to how many viewers are returning to watch each edition day after day and each show week after week. Unique viewers and loyalty are important metrics on Snapchat. Though Snapchat users are able to search and go back to watch older content, the vast majority of viewership happens when the episodes air.
“Snap is an interesting platform for testing the healthy tension between binge-watching and having actual time between shows,” Kim said. “There’s a case for both. Given the fact each show only shows up on main Discover one episode at a time, it really speaks to being in the show watching the episode and actually waiting a week.”
There are some improvements that publishers would like for Snapchat to make. Kim said the experience for publishers and for users could be better with more design changes, specifically a better interface for discovering and choosing to follow content from a specific publisher. Kim said her wish list for Snapchat was a user interface that brought together all of the editions, shows and curated stories made by one outlet.
“Many platforms have some work to do for discoverability and searchability and unifying. Snap is ahead of the game in some regards, but we’d like to see more on bringing the content together,” Kim said.