Media partners continue to flock to Snapchat—and Time Inc. sent two of its editorial entities in Entertainment Weekly and Essence to the platform earlier this month to join sister brand People in delivering unique content as publishers for Snapchat Discover.
EW and Essence will enter the fray as weekly publishers to complement People’s daily edition, which was an original partner of Snapchat when Discover launched two years ago. Essence’s weekly edition will address topics spanning entertainment and lifestyle to politics from the perspective of African-American women. Pop culture portal Entertainment Weekly will provide exclusive access, intel and insight on TV, movies and music, highlighted by the weekly features “Must List” and “Bullseye.”
The deal allows for Time Inc. to continue attracting advertisers and marketers looking to magnetize millennials, which was highlighted by their Academy Awards coverage Sunday. During a conference call with analysts to discuss Q4 results, Time Inc. CEO and president Richard L. Battista revealed that digital advertising revenue increased 15 percent year-over-year during the quarter, and native advertising revenue doubled in 2016, courting more than 400 sponsors across 600 programs.
Snap Inc., which according to documents filed with the SEC has its sights set on a $22 billion valuation in IPO, is rallying a variety of players with publishing prowess in recent weeks to solidify its seat at the social table.
The platform also partnered with The New York Times and Discovery Communications earlier this month. The exclusive content moves they’ve brokered carry into the recent wave of momentum with such brands like Disney and NBCUniversal, who also procured deals to produce Snapchat-specific content. Snap Inc. paid content partners $57.8 million under ad-revenue sharing agreements.
“Our goal is to entertain and inform Snapchatters on a wide range of topics that speak to the diversity and many interests of our community,” said Nick Bell, vice president of content for Snap Inc. “Essence has served as a quintessential guide to what matters to African-American women for decades. Entertainment Weekly provides unparalleled insider access to take our audience deeper into the stories behind their favorite shows and movies. Their strong editorial perspectives will be incredible additions to our Discover lineup.”
Snap’s other editorial partners that publish editions on Discover in the US include: The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, The Daily Mail, Vogue, Cosmo, Bleacher Report, Buzzfeed CNN, Comedy Central, Mashable, MTV, Complex, Food Network, Mitu, Now This News, Brother, Refinery29, Tastemade and Sweet.
Zoe Ruderman, executive director of content strategy at Time Inc., joined [a]listdaily to detail how they will be approaching editorial on the emerging platform.
Why is it critical for publishers to be on Snapchat and pursue storytelling on new platforms for new audiences?
Our goal is to be wherever our readers, users and viewers are. It’s no longer about making the user come to you, but rather going to where they are and delivering the kind of content experience they’re looking for on that platform. The audience is enormous—and growing—on Snapchat, and it’s an audience that doesn’t overlap a whole lot with the users we have on other platforms, on our sites, or in print. Plus, because of the nature of Snapchat Discover, we have a lot of fun with how we tell the stories: using animation, video, really creative design formats and interactivity. People has been on Snapchat Discover from the inception, and we’ve had huge success in growing our social footprint and gaining new fans. We’re excited to replicate all of those successes with Entertainment Weekly and Essence.
Will you be shifting your content strategy away from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to Snapchat for EW and Essence by tailoring more content toward that specific platform?
Not at all. We’re leaning heavily into Snapchat, but that doesn’t mean we’re easing up our efforts and growth on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. In fact, we recently launched a Facebook Messenger bot at People and broke Instagram video records at InStyle, so we’re continuing to go hard on all platforms. We’ve also staffed up with writers, editors and designers to accommodate the new content we’re pushing out across our social channels.
What’s the best way you’ve learned to create content for Snapchat? As a distribution vehicle for existing content? Or creating original content?
Definitely original content. The consumption and the user are so different from that of the site or magazine that it doesn’t work to just take content from other places and retrofit it for Snapchat. We have a dedicated team of writers and editors, and they’re crafting stories and experiences on Discover that are distinct and unique from what you’ll see on our owned and operated sites. Often, we’re covering the same topics (for example, when Beyoncé revealed she was pregnant, we did numerous stories on the site, in print and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, plus of course Snapchat), but we’re using different graphics, headlines and ways of drawing in the user depending on the platform.
How else are you engaging mobile customers outside of your dedicated website? Are you testing any other new platforms?
We know that the majority of our users are consuming content on their phones. So, every single part of every one of our sites is mobile optimized, and when we’re creating content, we’re doing so with mobile in mind. Especially when we’re launching new tools, programs or campaigns, we’re thinking mobile-first. For example, this red carpet season, we kicked off a program that takes users inside the awards shows in a minute-by-minute way, curates social content the night of the shows and essentially throws the ultimate virtual viewing party. It looks even better on mobile than desktop—it’s slick and beautiful on a phone.
What have you learned from the platform’s audience? What does it offer that other social channels don’t?
We’ve got it down to a science. With the People editions, we’ll literally print out top snaps from the past few months, tape them all to a wall of a huge conference room, write out the swipe-up rate, the completion rate and the time spent then spend a couple hours analyzing the numbers and talking with a team about what we can glean from the data. That, combined with our editorial instincts, has made us even better at getting people to engage with our content. We’ve learned so much about the stars they care about, the words that catch their attention, even things like the ideal length of time for a top snap. And our data deep dives have confirmed what we all already assumed to be true: Snapchatters can’t get enough of the Karjenners.
Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan