Snapchat is favoring your friends' Stories over publisher content

Snapchat is making a small but important tweak to how it displays, and then plays, user Stories inside its app.

First, Snapchat is putting user Stories at the very top of the Stories page. That means you’ll likely see more of your friends’ Stories “above the fold.” The new design creates an obvious group of losers: Snapchat’s Discover publishing partners, who used to occupy the top of that page and will now have their channels listed below all of your friends’ stories. Depending on how many friends you have on the app, that could mean lots of scrolling before you come across Discover content.

Stories, for the uninitiated, are collections of photos and videos that users share in a 24-hour period that can then be watched as a montage by their friends. It’s a popular feature, and one that Instagram just cloned.

Moving these stories up, and Discover content down, may seem trivial given Discover already has its own separate page inside the app. But the Stories page is where the bulk of Discover traffic originates — or used to.

So relegating Discover content further down the line might not sit well with publishers, who create their channels specifically for Snapchat each and every day. It could reduce their traffic and, in turn, their ad revenue.

The second update is that Snapchat will no longer transition you automatically from one friend’s story to another.

 Snapchat

Previously, when you finished watching a friend’s story, Snapchat would automatically start playing the next story in the queue. Now it won’t; if you want to watch a bunch of stories in a row, you’ll need to use a new feature called Story Playlist, which lets users select a handful of stories to watch in one go.

This move is also significant. Snapchat recently started showing ads between user stories, plopping a short video ad in the automatic transition from one story to the next.

A company spokesperson says that Snapchat will show ads between stories added to a Playlist, and will sometimes show ads as a post-roll after watching an individual story.

Snapchat is on pace to beat its $350 million revenue target this year, and those close to the company believe it could be a $1 billion business next year. So two changes that both seem to prioritize user experience over monetization are a bit surprising, especially given Snapchat’s IPO ambitions. But if it keeps users coming back long term — well, that must be the hope.

These updates are rolling out to some Android users beginning Friday, and will come to all iOS and Android users soon, the company says.


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