On Snapchat Discover, publishers tweak programming strategies to keep people from tuning out

Media companies Jukin Media and Studio71 continue to experiment with how to program their respective Snapchat Discover channels since debuting channels on the platform last fall and seeing their audiences swell into the millions.

Jukin Media and Studio71 operate somewhat different channels but have arrived at similar publishing strategies for channels that debuted within a month of each other and are profitable, according to execs from each company. In September, Studio71 introduced a daily Publisher Story for WorldStarHipHop that now has millions of subscribers, according to Studio71 CEO Reza Izad. In October, Jukin Media debuted two weekly Shows for two of its properties, People Are Awesome and FailArmy, which have accumulated 2 million and 1.8 million subscribers respectively, according to a company spokesperson.

Since the channels’ launch, both Jukin Media and Studio71 have found that people are willing to tap through longer-than-expected episodes and editions, though there is a limit. At first, Jukin Media tested including as few as 10 snaps and as many as 40 snaps in each property’s episode, according to Jukin Media CEO Jon Skogmo. Meanwhile, Studio71 initially tried 16 to 18 snaps per weekday edition of WorldStarHipHop’s Publisher Story and 10 snaps per weekend edition, according to Anjuli Hinds, svp of original content at Studio71. But over time, Jukin Media saw that people were checking out toward the end of its longer episodes, and Studio71 saw that people were sticking around for its relatively shorter ones.

Now Jukin Media has settled on a sweet spot of 17 to 18 snaps per episode, said Skogmo. And Studio71 lengthened its editions to include 20 to 23 snaps on weekdays and around 15 snaps on weekends, said Hinds.

The length of media companies’ content matters because of how that length can relate to revenue. Since Snapchat slots ads between the snaps in a Show and Publisher Story, the more snaps that a story includes would likely enable more ads to be inserted as well. However neither Jukin Media’s nor Studio71’s executives were willing to discuss their respective channels’ revenue, so it’s unclear to what extent the adjusted story lengths have benefitted their businesses, though it would also help that they are getting millions of people to tune in to their content.

Jukin Media’s FailArmy Show received 16.8 million total unique viewers in January and averaged 6 million unique viewers per episode, and its People Are Awesome Show received 15.5 million total unique viewers that month and averaged 3.3 million unique viewers per episode, according to a company spokesperson. Studio71’s WorldStarHipHop Publisher Story received tens of millions of unique viewers in January, according to Izad; a Studio71 spokesperson declined to provide a number for average unique viewers per edition.

In addition to narrowing the length of their channels’ content, both companies have tightened the scopes of their content as well, which can help to keep people’s attention to view the entire episode or edition.

Jukin Media has focused on having the first and last snaps that bookend its episodes share a theme and fill the middle with “content that will let you breathe and laugh, a variety of content that’s not just the same beat over and over,” Skogmo said. And Studio71 has gravitated toward featuring longer stories toward the beginning of WorldStarHipHop’s Publisher Stories and stretching those stories out across multiple snaps. “If we do a top story that’s shorter, then someone’s read that story and they’re onto the next thing, either our next story or another story somewhere else,” said Hinds.

Even though it’s unclear how adjusting their programming strategies has impacted the revenue that Jukin Media and Studio71 generate directly from their channels, the publishers’ focus on fine-tuning their Snapchat content could indirectly benefit their businesses.

An agency executive said that some Snapchat publishers have become more vocal about their Snapchat content strategies in meetings to position themselves as experts to marketers looking to produce their own content for Discover or create ads to run on Snapchat. In these conversations, the publishers have detailed how they pick the headline tiles that tease a story in people’s Discover feeds, how they sequence the snaps included in an edition and how they calibrate the lengths of the editions. Sharing that information helps to make advertisers more confident about advertising on Snapchat and more interested in working with that specific publisher. The publisher “becomes like a center of excellence or learning resource. It almost becomes like a pseudo-consulting relationship in that regard,” said the agency exec.


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