Snapchat launches sponsored-content service called Discover, but will millennials revolt?

Proving that even cool companies need to face the bottom line, Snapchat has quickly moved beyond time-bomb messaging in attempt to become an attractive content and advertising platform.

In launching its newest feature, Discover, on Tuesday morning, Snapchat added a dozen content companies to its service, including Food Network, who will provide ad-sponsored daily feeds.

With more than 700 million images and videos being sent, Snapchat has grown to be a powerful messaging platform for millennials. Discover comes four months after the company launched its first paid ad, a 20-second spot for the film, “Ouija.” Prior to that ad, Snapchat saw limited opportunities for revenue from its existing features.

Food Network will provide between five and 10 curated stories each day that can be viewed by users who swipe left in the app. Ritz Crackers is the launch sponsor for the targeted digital-food feed.

“Audiences are more food-conscious than ever before,”  said Brooke Johnson, President of Food Network & Cooking Channel,” and the Discover Food Network channel on Snapchat will provide users with the great content they love, designed specifically for their mobile devices.”

In addition to Food Network, Snapchat’s Discover feature will include CNN, Comedy Central, Cosmopolitan, the Daily Mail, ESPN, National Geographic, People, Vice, Yahoo News, and Warner Brothers.

Comedy Central said it would publish between five and six stories each day, with clips taken from popular shows like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and its new late-night program The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore.

The move into sponsored content could prove to be risky for Snapchat. Its millennial user base could deem the service’s move as the first stage in Snapchat selling out. If that opinion caught on, Snapchat would transform from a cool company into just another mobile service in search of ad dollars. How Snapchat implements the service and ensures that its partners deliver relevant stories, images, and videos will go a long way in shaping users’ reception of this new feature.

The next step in Snapchat’s monetization strategy would appear to be using its Snapcash feature to enable transactions on its platform. However, critics have pointed to weaknesses in the service, which launched in November 2014, including security issues that have plagued Snapchat’s platform since its launch.

Illustration by Fernando Alfonso III

Allen Weiner

Allen Weiner

Allen Weiner has been a market research analyst in the area of new media and technology since 1994. He’s worked as writer, publisher and newspaper executive. He is the co-founder and publisher of Kombucha Network and the former managing vice president of Gartner.