But last week, Snap, Inc., parent company of Snapchat, announced new partnerships with 25 media companies. Some of those outlets are longtime partners from the traditional publishing sphere, like CNN and NBC. Others are newer digital media darlings, like Refinery29.
According to Adweek, Snapchat’s new media partners will publish “daily editorial units” not governed by length or format. The twist: This content will be mixed with original material generated by users selected from millions of active accounts internationally.
Years ago, the public outcry over Facebook’s user agreement, which allowed the social-media platform to take photos and other posts from its users’ accounts and place them in promotional material, was fierce. Though the idea that users actually believed they owned the content they contributed seemed intensely naïve, the moment felt pivotal.
Fast-forward to 2018. Platforms are now transparently building advertising strategies around the accessibility of free user content.
Snapchat will use its newly created content stream to send programmatic ads straight to readers and fans of the 25 partners. The media partners will receive a portion of the revenue for participating.
The new content items will also come with a unique URL, so they can be shared anywhere.
Brian Verne, CEO of Wave, a social-media sports publisher, told Adweek: “Their Our Stories portal will be opened up to exclusive publishing partners, one of which is us. If publishers use content submitted by Snap users from all over the world to create stories, the byproduct will be better viewership and engagement. As a value proposition for advertisers, that would seemingly be a more premium product.”
He added his company is in line with Snap’s vision of a decentralized model for the future of media that relies on user-created content. He stated: “I think the results speak for themselves in terms of viewership.”
Allison Bodack, manager of communications for ad sales, data strategy and analytics at CNN parent company Turner, told Adweek she already has a social-discovery team that identifies and curates content generated by users. The new system provides dashboard tools making it even easier to create narratives from that content.
Snapchat has aggressively repositioned itself as a platform that will leverage its users’ content to aid in new revenue generating partnerships.
Just last July, Axios reported the platform had signed a new partnership agreement with four news outlets, giving them greater and easier access to publicly visible Snaps. The outlets could then use those pieces of user content to verify and share breaking news across their own platforms.
Of course, many social-media users are still ruffled by the idea of having their content used without compensation, and neither of these agreements speak to that issue. The lines remain murky between who controls content and data and how it is monetized.