Themed collections of user generated content chosen by news publishers for viewing on and off Snapchat are the teen social network’s next great hope for relevance. Today Snap launches Curated Our Stories with the help of 20 partners like CNN, Cosmopolitan, Lad Bible, and NowThis. Instead of sifting through and selecting submissions to Our Story all by itself around events, holidays, and fads, these publishers can create slideshows of Snaps about whatever they want. They’ll both be featured in Snapchat Discover that sees 75 million Our Stories viewers per month, but also on the publishers’ own properties thanks to Snap’s embeds that have been underused since their January launch.
To entice partners, Snap has built in monetization from day one, splitting revenue with publishers from ads run in the Our Stories they curate. That’s in sharp contrast to Snap’s work with independent creators, where it still won’t split revenue with them directly, though at least it’s finally connecting them with brand sponsors.
Snap’s head of Stories everywhere Rahul Chopra tells me that in exchange for its cut, Snap provides a content management system that publishers can use to search through submitted Snaps using a variety of filters like keywords in captions and locations. A human at Snap will also moderate Curated Our Stories to ensure nothing objectionable slips through.
The new revenue stream could help Snap offset its declining user count by squeezing more cash out of each user by exposing them to more content and ads, or score it new users through embedded Curated Our Stories on its partners’ apps and sites. Snap beat revenue expectations last quarter but it still lost $353 million, contributing to a share price decline that hit an all-time low yesterday.
Snap first created Our Stories in 2014 to let people get the perspectives of tons of different attendees to music festivals and sporting matches. With time it expanded to creating college-specific Our Stories and ones of more relatable activities like enjoying Fridays. Snapchat also lets users search its publicly submitted content, but seems to have found people are too lazy or unimaginative to do it, or the uncurated content isn’t high quality enough to be worth watching.
The full list of publisher partners is: Brut, CNN, Cosmopolitan, Daily Mail, Daquan, Dodo, Harper’s Bazaar, iHeart, The Infatuation, Jukin, Lad Bible, Love Stories TV, Mic, NBC News, NBC Sports, NBC, Today Show, New York Post, NowThis, Overtime, Refinery 29, Telemundo, The Tab, Viacom, Wave.TV, and Whalar. They run the gambit from traditional publishers to online news sources, and includes Snapchat’s Yellow startup accelerator portfolio company Love Stories TV, plus CNN’s return to Discover after cancelling its daily anchored news show there.
The curation possibilities are infinite. Partners could create reels of reactions to major news stories or shots from people with eyes on the ground at the scene of the action. They could highlight how people use a certain product, experience a particular place, or use a certain Snapchat creative feature. The publishers might produce daily or weekly collections around a topic or try a wide range of one-offs to surprise their viewers. You could think of it as a little bit like YouTube playlists, but cobbled together from real-time short-form submissions that might be too brief to make an impact on their own.
This is the start of Snapchat crowdsourcing not only content but curation to dig out the best citizen journalism, comedy, and beauty shot on its app and turn it into easily consumable compendiums. Given that Snapchat lost three million users last quarter, it could use the help keeping viewers coming back. But like most everything it launches, if Curated Our Stories blows up, you can bet Facebook and Instagram will turn on their copying machines.