Last week, Snapchat began rolling out some big changes to its Stories format by giving users control over whose updates they view. Previously, Auto Advance would play them all back-to-back with Snap ads in between. Now, Snapchat users can manually select which Stories they wish to view and the updates will be played in that order. If users watch more than one, ads will appear mid-roll, or at the end when viewing just one at a time. In this way, Snap, Inc. hopes to set itself apart from Instagram Stories, which (copying Snapchat) advances automatically through all updates.
In addition, friends’ Stories will now appear above Discovery channels, focusing more on personal experiences rather than marketing ones—similar to Facebook’s recent move to prioritize friends over publishers within its feed. For brands, this means a stronger need to create compelling messages on the popular social platform. In a survey conducted earlier this year, roughly 44 percent of Snapchat users between the ages of 13-24 who said they had used Live Stories and/or Discover reported doing so on at least a daily basis. Moving friend updates above Discover channels is a strategy to show Snapchat users that personal stories still matter in a big way.
Now that Snapchat is Snap, Inc., a camera company, the social media giant wants to be “in the pictures.” Enlisting Hollywood talent agencies like CAA and WME, Snapchat is now included in the same “coverage update” that Hollywood agencies regularly send to clients about “who’s buying and what they’re buying,” sources told Digiday. “Snapchat’s now on that list, which is interesting because it’s usually [TV networks like] NBC or History Channel,” said an executive at a studio that’s pitched Snapchat. Snap, Inc. wants short-form shows between 2 and 6 minutes an episode, but are open to all genres from reality TV to comedy and everything in between, according to a coverage report sent to WME.
The brand formerly known as Snapchat is out to prove itself to investors, preparing the paperwork for an IPO and hoping for a value of $25 billion or more. Should the company receive this valuation goal, it would be the biggest company to go public on the US Exchange since Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. debuted at a $168 billion valuation in 2014. Snap, Inc. plans to offer shares beginning in March 2017. By creating strong relationships with Hollywood and reinforcing brand loyalty among users by making them feel more important than advertisers, Snap, Inc. aims to prove its worth to the world.