Snap Earnings Fall, App Doesn't Enjoy Wide Appeal

Once again missing analyst expectations, Snap reported third-quarter revenue of just $208 million and a net loss of $443 million, on Tuesday.

Worse yet, the company said it added just 4.5 million new daily active users during the period, which brought total DAUs to roughly 175 million.

With regard to Snap’s latest earnings fail, analysts had mixed feelings on Tuesday.

“My optimistic side likes to think that the past three quarters since Snap’s IPO are helping to set expectations regarding reasonable growth rates for new advertising-driven businesses -- expectations that have been thrown for a loop due to Facebook's unprecedented success,” said Forrester analyst Melissa Parrish.

“My pessimistic side is concerned that while I will always applaud a company’s efforts to improve and simplify the user experience, the complicated interface may not be the primary reason the app hasn't appealed to a wider audience.”

Parrish is referring to Snap’s decision to redesign its flagship app, which CEO Evan Spiegel outlined on Tuesday.

“One thing that we have heard over the years is that Snapchat is difficult to understand or hard to use, and our team has been working on responding to this feedback,” Spiegel stated. “As a result, we are currently redesigning our application to make it easier to use.”

More troubling to investors, Spiegel said he did not expect the redesign to produce rabid business results. “There is a strong likelihood  the redesign of our application will be disruptive to our business in the short term,” the young CEO said.

Characterizing the change as a “risk,” Spiegel admitted: “We don’t yet know how the behavior of our community will change when they begin to use our updated application.”

Among some Snap watchers, there is a sense that the company has lost its direction.

“It’s hard to be optimistic about their future when they don’t have a clear plan for growth or monetization,” said Ian Baer, Chief Strategy Officer at ‎Rauxa, full-service marketing agency. “It just feels like they’re throwing darts, and were I an investor, or even a potential buyer should they choose that path, I’d be very wary.”

Among other innovations, Snap debuted “context cards” -- which can connect users within app experiences to various products, services and business information -- this past quarter.

Launched with a number of business partners from TripAdvisor to Foursquare to Michelin to goop, the cards also let users take simple actions, such as calling for a ride with Uber or Lyft, or reserving a table through OpenTable, Resy or Bookatable.

Snap also integrated its popular Stories features into context cards, which it hoped would make it easier for users to see more Snaps from places of interest. Clearly a work in progress, Snap said it is hoping to learn from users’ and business partners’ experience with the cards.

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