Snapchat released a new update of their social app this week, bringing a big, clumsy change to the Stories section. The update, released on Monday, came with a note which read, “New Stories screen, now with a little more Discover Enjoy!” Wishful thinking Snapchat, users are in fact enjoying none of it.
Discover the Redundancy
The biggest change with this Snapchat update was made to the Stories section. Users found the Discover content — essentially native advertising from its media partners — has been miniaturized and duplicated under Stories in an effort to get more eyes on it. As an avid Snapchat user, the Discover content feels like an invading species mixed in with my friends stories. What’s more puzzling is that the Discover section, and all of its content, remains unchanged making the experience redundant, a word we in tech avoid like the plague.
Another change made to Stories was with Live Stories, which were moved higher up in Stories. This change wasn’t so major as the Live Stories were already living in this section.
In addition to the Discover changes, Snapchat ads in Live Stories have gained traction. Anyone who watched the Brasilia Live Story found static ads for the new movie Trainwreck unceremoniously dumped into the snaps. Though lucrative for Snapchat, this advertising approach is so basic and off-putting that the experience is not unlike a giant web 1.0 banner ad. Not the seamlessly integrated approach we would expect from Snapchat’s CEO Evan Speigel who talks constantly about how in tune he is with Millennial culture and behavior.
Because bad things come in threes, Snapchat users on iPhone and Android have taken to Twitter to complain about the update draining the battery life from their phones. Techradar reports an update may have fixed this.
The Snapchat update was so poorly received that two thousand caustic, one-star reviews flooded the iTunes App Store, causing Snapchat’s rating to drop from two-and-a-half to one-and-a-half stars.
Snapchat has been valued at $19 billion so the pressure to monetize is high. The challenge of on-boarding new advertisers in a vertical video medium that lacks the analytic data of the other social media giants is obvious. But not an impossible one for a social app that, so far, has been successful at understanding its 100 million users and creating a great experience for us. Which is why the decision making with this latest update is both shocking and confusing: Snapchat knows better.
Spiegel has said that Stories and Discover are two different products. I pop into Discover when I’m through catching up with my friends stories and I often like a lot of what I see. So much so that I’d like to see more of it from new media partners. If Snapchat wants more eyes on Discover, they need to give us a bigger variety of content watch. Growing the Discover product is the answer to getting views up, not polluting Stories with it.
Snapchat Follies [Medium, Snapchat Strategy]