Snapchat to expand app into content and ads

Snapchat is to expand from being an ephemeral photo and video messaging app to a service that serves up news, TV clips and advertisements, according to a report.

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Snapchat is to introduce news content and ads into the app, according to a report.

More than a dozen media companies, including MailOnline, have been in discussions to provide content for Snapchat Discovery, according to The Wall Street Journal.

It is understood the new service will allow users to read news and watch video clips of films and TV shows by holding down their finger on the screen before they disappear – as they currently do with video or photo messages on the app.

It is not yet clear how advertising would work, but it is likely to come in a native form of pre-roll before the content is served up or sponsored content.

The launch would mark Snapchat’s first move into monetising the app, which will be of particular interest to marketers looking to target Millennnials at scale.

A recent report from research house comScore suggested Snapchat is more popular than Twitter among 18 to 34-year-olds. The report found that 33 per cent of Americans in this age bracket had the Snapchat app installed on their smartphones in June this year, trailing only Facebook (76 per cent) and Instagram (43 per cent) across the social app sector.

While Snapchat has yet to offer advertising on the app, brands including Unilever’s Lynx, Betfair, O2, Audi and McDonald’s have all experimented using the platform to send out free content to fans.

In recent months Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel has also been meeting with US advertising executives to pitch the app as a brand marketing tool.

In a pitch deck obtained by Digiday, Snapchat says that its users send more than 500 million snaps daily and each user tends to revisit the app more than 14 times on average each day. The slideshow presentation also states that 50 per cent of Snapchat’s users are aged between 13 and 17-years-old.

But if Snapchat wants to make “big money” from advertisers, it needs to make the product more attractive to other users too, according to Paul Armstrong, founder of digital marketing consultancy HERE/FORTH.

He adds: “The news element is the interesting part as this is what could give the next wave of users  – older users – a reason to use it beyond simple messaging.  The simple user-interface offers a different experience to other media outlets out there, Mixed with something like Wibbitz, which offers video summaries created from text posts, I could see this becoming popular quickly.”

Snapchat did not respond to a request for comment.

Rival messaging apps have already begun to monetise their services. WhatsApp, which was acquired by Facebook earlier this year, charges its users a small annual subscription, while apps such as Line and WeChat generate revenue from virtual goods and games played within their apps.

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