Today Snapchat, the ephemeral messaging service fresh off a $485 million Series D round of fundraising, announced the launch of its new media platform Discover. It is a built in feature on the Snapchat app that offers daily refreshed content from select and disparate group of major media players like Vice, The Daily Mail, Comedy Central, Warner Music Group, Cosmopolitan, People, Yahoo!, and National Geographic.
Discover seems to be the crystalization of the companies widely reported plans to monetize as well as curate media content for its user base, which skews notably teen. In addition to videos and photos, the Discover content will feature "gorgeous advertising."
The Discover feature is accessed through a circle icon in the upper corner of Snapchat's Stories screen. Users are taken to a layout of the logos of the various media partners (which differ from user-to-user). By clicking on the logo of, say, Yahoo!, users are greeted with a short, branded teaser featuring Katie Couric saying "Hey there, here's whats happening". Then short (10 second) videos begin to roll, which announce the headlines of the day. If a user is interested in that particular story, they can swipe up to see the full layout. If not, they can swipe right for the next story. If the user does nothing, the headline is read over and over infinitely.
The Warner Music content begins similarly with little teasers for music videos, today featuring David Guetta, Drake and Blake Shelton, as well as some up-and-comers. WMG COO Rob Wiesenthal said of the partnership: "Refreshing the videos daily will create major promotional opportunities that will be monetized through sponsorship and advertising."
Snapchat's curatorial ambitions were the subject of a swath of leaked internal emails released during the Sony hack. The emails detailed Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel's meetings with Sony executives to discuss plans for launching a record label and promoting artists through the Snapchat platform.
The Discover launch gives further insight into the company's often top-secret plans to monetize and diversify. By partnering directly with media corporations, Snapchat offers content brands the promise of access to the lusted-after eyeballs of tens of millions of teenagers. The format of the offerings reflects these brands' perception of the short attention spans and aesthetic preferences of "kids today." Snapchat seems to reinforce this perception in its blog post announcement: "Every edition is refreshed after 24 hours -- because what's news today is history tomorrow."
In the case of the musical artists being promoted on the platform by their record labels, this upfront avowal of the ephemeral nature of their art may be less than comforting. It's day zero for Snapchat Discover, and there are no guarantees that young people will jump at the chance to see the content that large media organizations have tailored to their supposed tastes. Of course, this situation is not new -- but today's announcement opens a new front in the eternal battle of established content makers to make themselves relevant to new generations of consumers.
Whether or not these Snapchat-hosted attempts are successful, they promise to be entertaining.