Snapchat is bringing more TV-like content to the U.K., with 17 media partners launching 25 Snapchat Shows in the coming weeks, and publishers hope the revenue-share model is more sustainable than other platform-publisher arrangements that came before.
The Shows will run three to seven minutes in length and come from new publishers to Snapchat include the Guardian, Channel 4 and Culture Trip, as well as existing Discover partners like Sky News, Vice, and PinkNews. The content is non-exclusive to the platform and monetized through six-second unskippable ads, with the publisher and platform sharing the revenue. (Snapchat doesn’t comment on the split.)
“It’s valuable to us,” said Alan Strange, output editor for digital at Sky News, speaking at Snap’s event in London this week. “Lots of publishers have been burned from receiving funding for content, and then the funding runs out. Then you’re left with a team you’ve built around this: The classic pivot to video, Facebook Lives. There’s an apocalyptic wasteland out there with all the things people have tried.”
Another selling point is that the investment required by the publishers for Shows is lighter than for daily Discover editions, which require teams of at least six people. The news that Condé Nast is shuttering some Snapchat Discover edition teams indicates not all publishers are seeing a return.
Copa90’s pop-up Discover channel during the World Cup took a team of seven. Tom Brandhorst, editorial director at Copa90, said it should be able to do its forthcoming “Copa90’s World of Football,” a weekly show covering top football stories and moments, with three to five people.
Publishers also hope getting noticed on Discover will be easier than it is in the Facebook news feed. “The way the algorithm works, more content will help discoverability,” said Benjamin Cohen, CEO and editor-in-chief of PinkNews, which will have a weekly Show called “Ask the Aunties” where presenters respond to audience questions.
The Show pages and autoplay features in Discover are designed to make it easy for people to tune in and binge watch. Cohen pointed out that there’s no easy way to combine subscribers of Discover channels with Show audience, so publishers like PinkNews that have duplicated audiences could face issues with advertisers. Snapchat has said it’s working to fix this.
Snapchat Shows launched in the U.S. two years ago. Since then, the platform has seen localized content improve engagement in the U.K., France and Germany and time spent in Shows has more than tripled since the beginning of the year, according to the platform.
“We’ve been able to become more global by being more local,” said Olly Osborne, marketing director for EMEA at Vice, which was a launch partner on Discover and has five Shows launching in the coming weeks. Vice is now publishing in local languages in France, Germany, U.K. and U.S., and has grown monthly active users across those four channels to 35 million, he said. Daily active users across those channels are 4 million.
Buyers debate reach, cost
For all the publisher excitement about the Snapchat Shows, advertisers are still mixed on the platform.
Snapchat said advertisers can reach five million people monthly in the U.K., which agencies say is reputable but which will be brought down by any targeting they do. EMarketer estimated that Snap controls just 0.5 percent of the U.K. digital ad market while Google and Facebook together control 60.8 percent.
Jason Cotrina-Vasquez, paid social business director at Mindshare, estimates that Snapchat is on around 20 percent of the agencies’ media plans, compared to 5 percent a year ago, due to improvements in the product and addition of local content and formats. “We’re getting very cost-effective reach. It’s an audience that’s hard to reach on other platforms; that’s the key selling point,” he said.
The CPMs are higher for shows than Discover edition ads because the ads are unskippable. Sources say CPMs in Discover are around £3 ($3.81).
“We aren’t particularly interested in this proposition this early,” said one ad buyer requesting anonymity. “I find the flat CPM costs for these placements to be high. We generally will only buy Discover inventory in the auction, and to the best of my knowledge, this will not be available in auction, at least in Q4.”
While Snapchat will never match the scale of Instagram, with the power of Facebook behind it, it’s impressed others with its ability to drive sales and direct response campaigns. One agency said that cost per acquisition on Snapchat was 15 percent lower compared to other social channels.
Deborah King, head of paid social at Essence, said the agency is increasing the number of mid-roll ad tests it’s running for clients on Snapchat after seeing them work.
“Direct response has been surprisingly efficient because the audience is so engaged,” she said. “Snap is underestimated in the industry and with clients. They are quick to listen to feedback and make changes.”