Le Monde is betting there is a place for serious news on millennial-skewing Snapchat, which last week launched its media-focused Discover section in France.
Le Monde is one of eight publishers on Discover in France, with local players like L’Équipe and Paris Match sitting side by side with French editions of Cosmopolitan and Tastemade. While much of the Discover content in the U.S. skews toward softer news, Le Monde plans to tackle more serious topics. Recent editions have featured the capture of U.S. bomb suspect, Ahmad Khan Rahami, a memorial service in Paris and the medal count from the Rio Paralympics.
Le Monde is not shy about weighty topics. Recently, a snap from the publisher broke down the hospitalization of former French president Jacques Chirac. Another detailed how the Islamic State took responsibility for a stabbing attack in Minnesota. Le Monde also used Snapchat to address worker rights of foreigners. Formats like quizzes are also in the mix, for example, one Le Monde Snapchat quiz challenges users to identify the video game theme of an orchestral piece of music.
“French audiences are passionate about politics and international economics,” said Le Monde’s online editor, Michael Szadkowski. “This is more popular than entertainment. We are a country where serious stuff is interesting for a lot of people, including young people.”
Le Monde has a Snapchat team of seven, two of whom were hired from within the publisher, working exclusively on Snapchat content. The Snapchat team consists of motion designers, videographers and social media editors. It’s a big investment but one Le Monde is willing to take to reach millennials, who, Szadkowski notes, are not coming to its website, where comScore measures 8 million monthly desktop users.
Each edition is published daily to Discover between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Central European Time — the publisher sees the most engagement on its mobile app, Twitter and Facebook after 4 p.m. — and consists of about a dozen snaps.
Discover partners must prove they have the firepower to keep up with the daily publishing schedules of content that fits Discover if they want to stay on the platform. Since March, Le Monde has been testing format cards that would be fitting for Discover, as well as less formal content, like reporting from live protests, from a regular Snapchat account. Because this dependent on the news cycle, Szadkowski said this meant there was little regularity: a Snapchat story posted daily for a week, and then nothing for two weeks. At their peak, these were getting around 2,000 views, (Al Jazeera takes a similar approach of publishing serious news and is receiving around 3,000 views). According to Le Monde, readers were hungry for this content.
“Snapchat is the landlord; Le Monde has a room in the building,” said Szadkowski. “We have to stick to the common rules, and the neighbors are young.”
Le Monde is launching with ad partners Dior, Louis Vuitton and soft-drink company Schweppes. Snap Ads, the 10-second full screen vertical video within Discover, appear every three editorial snaps. Snapchat takes a cut of the revenue, but Szadkowski and Le Monde’s sales team believe in the potential of Discover ads to bring in viable revenue streams, although he would not discuss details.
Before Sept. 15, France’s 8 million daily Snapchat users would see Discover’s international edition, a compilation of the U.S., U.K. and Australian Discover channels, all in English. Globally, there are 100 million monthly users on Discover.