Post-Facebook, PinkNews launches on Snapchat Discover

LGBT-focused site PinkNews will start publishing two weekly editions on Wednesday and Friday afternoon before increasing to daily editions this October. Currently, four staffers are dedicated to creating content, which it plans to double in the coming weeks.

At launch, PinkNews will plug into Snapchat’s programmatic network to monetize. By the time it publishes five weekly editions, it will start selling ads direct, sharing the revenue with the platform and making it easier for advertisers to target the LGBT community.

“We will be monetizing it; that’s powerful,” said Benjamin Cohen, CEO and founder of PinkNews. “I anticipate the team itself will be profitable immediately. We’ve been working on this since January, so we’ve had seven months of developmental costs. But on a monthly operation basis, we’ll be profitable from day one.”

Each edition will tell multiple stories linked to a theme to keep audiences hooked all the way through, and will include four snaps where users swipe up, taking article content that would originally be published on site plus bespoke content for the platform.

This week, PinkNews will publish an inside look at Russia’s first queer dance festival on Discover. Broadly, the content will explain topics like the history of LGBT rights without assuming any prior knowledge, and the Snapchat audience, while supportive of gay rights, may not have the depth of understanding that people actively visiting the site do. Cohen’s team will be keeping an eye on completion rate and how long people stay with the editions.

PinkNews will start selling ads direct in October.

“Snap is a social platform that considers publishers to be business partners, rather than a platform you fight with about algorithm changes,” said Cohen. “It’s a business partnership, and you’re dealing with humans who are responsive.”

Discover opens the publisher up to a wider, younger audience who are more receptive to gay rights. A YouGov poll for PinkNews in June found that 76 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds support gay couples starting a family, 69 percent felt that gay relationships should be talked about in schools and 79 percent felt that same-sex couples in Northern Ireland should be allowed to marry.

PinkNews has been steadily diversifying from Facebook. Now, around 25 percent of its traffic comes from the social network; two years ago, this was closer to 60 percent. According to Cohen, the drop in Facebook traffic has been made up increases in direct traffic, search traffic and newsletter referrals. Pageviews are up, as audiences are reading more than one article. Working with Snapchat is another example of how the publisher is growing the different platforms where it finds audiences.

Publishers’ monetization of Snapchat Discover has been mixed, but digital-native media companies, with leaner teams and no print-related overheads, have more of a fighting chance at turning a profit.   

Most of PinkNews’ revenue comes from advertising, mostly programmatic and direct deals. Branded content is creeping up, and in the last month, it released its first branded content partnership with Lloyds bank. Revenue from events, like the PinkNews Awards and summer receptions in each capital city, is 10 percent of its total revenue but will account for 30 percent by the end of the year, said Cohen.

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