Snapchat Discover opens up measurement doors, but media buyers don’t expect to shift ad dollars

Snap’s opening up of Snapchat Discover to third-party measurement has been a long time coming, but it’s unlikely to shift a significant amount of ad dollars.

On Monday, Snapchat announced its integration with Comscore, adding measurement of U.S. traffic for the platform’s vertical video content. This deal marks the first time Snap has introduced third-party measurement for traffic on Snapchat Discover. The move helps publishers better understand their overall scale and therefore be more transparent in their pitches to advertisers. Prior to this deal, Snapchat provided its partners with their unique viewership numbers, but media companies couldn’t simply add that to their other traffic sources due to potential duplication. The Comscore data, available later this month, will un-duplicate the activity and include each channel’s number of unique viewers and their duration.

For ad buyers, the deal is an important step toward Snapchat becoming a more mature platform.

“No one likes when you grade your own homework,” said Jenny Lang, svp, managing partner of integrated investment at UM Worldwide. “I think it’s going to make Snapchat look so much better. The first thing we do [for a campaign] is look at Comscore and pull all the parameters like a demo. This is only to the advantage of Snapchat, really for all parties. I don’t see [ad dollars on Snapchat] going up dramatically, but I see it being in more of a consideration set.”

The integration with Comscore comes nearly four years after the launch of Snapchat Discover. In the meantime, Snapchat has added more than a dozen measurement partners such as Nielsen, Moat and DoubleClick.

Some brands won’t buy ads on platforms unless there’s third-party measurement, Lang said. Other advertisers may be willing to experiment if they see the channel as valuable. They rely on data the platform, in this case Snapchat, provides, but Lang said, “You’ll take it with a grain of salt. Sure, this is what the publisher is saying, but no third-party … some brands will say, ‘No go.'”

Comscore’s svp of digital audience products, Naresh Rekhi, said Snapchat’s deal with Comscore is important since “advertisers need third-party measurement to validate audiences as they proliferate across platforms.”

Even though Comscore allows advertisers to better compare Snapchat to other measured publishers, introducing more third-party verification won’t necessarily sell Snapchat to every buyer.

“Third-party verification always helps drive advertiser interest and commitment, so there’s certainly more openness to evaluate. The question is: Does Snapchat bring something unique to a plan, and is there a proper cost value relationship? This has been a challenge for Snapchat in the past. It is yet to be seen if this helps their cause,” said Jeff Ratner, chief media officer of iCrossing.

The content in Snapchat Discover has changed quite dramatically over the years. Discover started with 11 publishers in the U.S. and has since grown to more than 100 globally. Over the past two years, Snap has focused on video shows, its more TV-like content. Snapchat has aired more than 125 shows each week this month, up from 12 shows per week the year prior, a Snap spokesperson said. Snap recently redesigned the app to feature these shows, now called Snap Originals.

ESPN was one of Snapchat’s launch partners for Discover in January 2015 and chose to change the channel’s format into a show, specifically a Snapchat version of “SportsCenter,” in November 2017. On Monday, ESPN announced it’s updating its Snapchat strategy from two episodes of “SportsCenter” to a morning edition of “SportsCenter” and an afternoon edition called “ESPN Daily” to air every weekday. Currently, ESPN’s Snapchat show averages 2.5 million unique viewers per episode, compared to 2 million in January, and receives between 17 and 18 million unique viewers per month, according to ESPN.

Ryan Spoon, ESPN’s svp of social content, welcomed the addition of Comscore data to “reinforce” those results. “SportsCenter” on Snapchat “has helped us reach young, engaged fans and expand the overall audience we reach each day. Having that reflected in Comscore will be a welcome development and should reinforce what we and our advertisers have already seen,” Spoon emailed.

Other publishers are also focusing on shows over traditional channels. Condé Nast is shutting down its Snapchat channels for Vogue, Wired and GQ, Bloomberg reported last week, but has produced 21 shows for Snapchat. Six of these shows will go up by the end of the year, a Condé Nast spokesperson said.

“We continue to see enormous growth and engagement with Snapchat’s younger audiences and look forward to having third-party measurement validation of our success,” said Ashish Patel, chief insights officer at Group Nine Media, which has eight shows and four channels on Snapchat.

As the majority of Snapchat’s audience is in North America, Snap has been working to grow Discover in markets internationally. Last week, Snap announced 17 media partners in the U.K. will be launching 25 shows in the coming weeks. The Comscore data will only include U.S. audiences, however.

“We are constantly in conversation with our partners to broaden the depth and scope of our partnerships, especially as our partners keep innovating and launching new solutions and formats,” said Comscore’s Rekhi.

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