Snapchat Breaks Out of the App and Onto Your Web Browser, Reportedly Rejiggering Ad Targeting

Snapchat 2016
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A guest is seen outside the Tibi show with a white ghost Snapchat backpack during New York Fashion Week: Women's Fall/Winter 2016 on Feb. 13, 2016 in New York City.

Since its launch, the temporally fleeting and old-eschewing social app Snapchat has remained comfortably behind the fence of a swipe-to-unlock touchscreen, offering users a way to magically distort their faces and show friends the party they're nominally enjoying with a quick circular pan and a wink.

No more! During last night's Oscars the company debuted its first delivery of content to the traditional web, with short videos from outside and in the Dolby Theatre of acceptance speeches, blue chip stars' arrivals and many videos from the company's (sole?) mole (reporter?) inside the event. (It's striking how one's expectation of production quality shifts depending on the device being used; the shaky, grainy video is expected and even suits a handheld. However on a desktop you can't help but think it's all very RealVideo.) The coverage was modest, but the emergence of Snapchat from the garden to the front steps seems like a significant one.

This little sapling of traditional web content (trad-web-cont-sap) will no doubt play a central part in a major change to how Snapchat sells advertisements. According to Digiday, the company is looking to leverage its user data for ad sales, attempting to convince its media partners, like BuzzFeed and Vice who both post daily "snack-sized" videos to the platform and sell ads against them independently. Snapchat wants to target marketing across its audience, which would result in some ads running on several Discover channels and the media partners who operate those channels losing some advertising autonomy. For digital marketers, the ability to laser-target an audience as large as Snapchat's (100 million daily users as of last May, according to the company's founder) is of course appealing. As of right now, advertisers can only target Snapchat users according to location and gender, in addition to specific Discover channels and Live Stories. Notably, this would allow Snapchat to more effectively leverage and profit from any growth on "traditional" web (which, ha, nobody uses any more).

These changes are, it is safe to assume, the result of changes to its ad pricing structure which a CNBC report characterized as a drop and Snapchat characterized as a diversification in its offerings.

Snapchat did not respond to a request for comment.

The company has evolved significantly since first debuting as the future's best sexting utility. Last year's launch of Discover, a place for media companies to post daily "snack-sized" videos; they are as direct a way to reach fickle young eyeballs as exists. Its geofilters let a dozen (or a hundred or a thousand) user uploads be aggregated in a roughly comprehensive compilation. In November it began letting businesses and users purchase "On-Demand" geofilters (logos weren't allowed in the design of the earlier, "public" version).

Of course it's not all primrose and honey; the company posted an apology yesterday (Feb. 28) after one of its employees fell for a phishing scam which resulted in some staffers' salaries being disclosed outside the company and their identities under threat of being stolen.