Snapchat ushers in new era for news media industry

By Pit Gottschalk

Funke Media Group

Berlin, Germany


I needed some time to understand the world of Twitter. The sense of hashtags, the meaning of handles with a point and without one, the way to spread news. Now, I’m proud having 3,300 followers on @pitgottschalk.

At the same time, I look, like a shy boy, at the Twitter account of my Austrian friend and television journalist Armin Wolf who has more than 254,000 followers right now. In letters: two-hundred-fifty-four-thousand followers.

Snapchat's content integration opportunities make it appealing for brands.
Snapchat's content integration opportunities make it appealing for brands.

Am I old-fashioned or just a little bit late to create my own large community on Twitter?

Before I can close the gap between him and me, the next big thing is waiting around the corner — Snapchat. The message I’ve always gotten about Snapchat was that I shouldn’t be worried about this new messaging system, because it’s made for kids and their behaviour on mobile phones. Since I’ve visited a workshop of Richard Gutjahr’s, I’m not sure about that conclusion anymore.

After installing the app on my iPhone, I saw a lot of features that are nice to have: frames, little pictures, filters, some other funny stuff to use to take photos and videos to send around.

Big media brands are paying big money to have their content published on Snapchat.
Big media brands are paying big money to have their content published on Snapchat.

Then I switched the screen to the other side, to a section called “Discover.” A lot of big media brands offered their content there. CNN. Daily Mail. BuzzFeed. National Geographic. Cosmopolitan. It didn’t stop. I learned that these companies pay for their appearance on Snapchat. And that there are more to come.

I got curious.

Why do they do this? Isn’t the audience too young for legacy companies? And what does that mean for a small Web site like Viply, which I run for fun?

Before I could answer this question, I was surprised once again on Snapchat. There weren’t just funny frames to upgrade photos taken by teenagers, but also commercial frames from McDonald’s, for example.

Big ad spenders on Snapchat? I’ve heard rumors that companies pay up to US$750,000 a month to launch a Snapchat phone frame that provides nothing more than some colourful icons and a mention of the brand puzzled in a frame.

What a strange world, I thought. But it’s big business.

The data system of Snapchat recognises where you are and shows up with compelling ads relevant to you. I was in Paris where the European football championship takes place this summer, and the Paris frame was sponsored by Coca-Cola.

Even if the young users of Snapchat don’t use the company’s photo frame, they get in touch with the brand about 20 times a day when searching for both content and individual frames. Using and sharing the company’s frame on Snapchat is just the bonus on top.

What a great business model! As Snapchat, you get money from content providers and advertisers at the same time just by creating a platform where young people are sending messages.

Twitter as a news provider is still relevant to me, of course. But, I know I have to learn Snapchat as soon as possible. It’s just the beginning of a new era in the media industry.

About Pit Gottschalk

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