POV: Snapchat Originals
Snap is launching ‘Snap Originals’ - a host of new original series as its first move into scripted programming.
Details and Implications:
With its audience in decline - losing 3 million daily users in the second quarter of 2018 - and facing increasing competition from Instagram, Snap needs more reasons for users to return frequently to the Snapchat App and is banking on short-form original programming as the answer.
Snapchat premiered its first original shows two years ago (Snapchat Shows) but these have mainly been unscripted news and lifestyle shows. It is now launching Snap Originals - over a dozen new, original scripted shows covering multiple genres such as drama, mystery, horror, comedy and docu-series, with animation, romance and further young-adult drama in the pipelines. Each series will consist of daily 5-minute episodes, will be shot in vertical format and will be created with fast-paced mobile behaviour patterns in mind.
The shows will come from top producers like Keeping Up with The Kardashians creator Bunim/Murray and writers from shows like Riverdale and Friday Night Lights. There are no details around how the deals to produce the shows will work. Snap will not be in a position to fund all the Originals entirely, so it is likely some will be funded by production studios and others joint ventures.
Until now, Snapchat Shows for the most part have included the swipe-able Snap Ads, which are skippable. In order to monetise Originals, Snap will be selling six-second unskippable video ads within episodes, with two or three ads per episode.
Advertisers will be able to buy the ads via Snap Ads Manager (a self-serve ad buying tool) which will run across any and all of the Snap Originals series and target using the ad-targeting tool. Advertisers can also buy direct from the Snap sales team if they want to advertise against a specific show.
Snap is also adding new features to the App to promote the shows. A dedicated section in the Discover tab will catalogue the shows and a profile page is being created for each show, listing all the episodes that have been released and enabling users to sign up to get push notifications when new episodes are released.
Snap has a lot riding on Originals being a success. The company can’t afford to spend too much on programming and not have it pay off and it will be hoping that this new suite of content will reverse the trend in daily users on the App. It remains to be seen whether Snapchat Originals and the Snapchat App become the destination for must-see TV on the go, but it is yet another example of Snapchat looking to innovate its way to growth.