New York Times Brings the Gray Lady to a Graying Snapchat

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Snapchat is now home to the Gray Lady, and just in time for its user base that's also getting a little more gray.

On Thursday, The New York Times became the latest publisher to join Snapchat's Discover section, where it will translate its daily news into a format more fitting for today's youth. It's mobile, it's digital, it's visual and the target audience is people under 35 years old.

"As we understand it, there's a pretty big appetite for Times content on that platform," said Kinsey Wilson, exec VP of product and technology at The New York Times. "It's a place where we can reach young audiences at scale and experiment with new formats."

The format will be new, but the content could be familiar. The Times even plans on translating its iconic crossword puzzle into the Snapchat experience, Mr. Wilson said.

While The Times is hoping to capture a new generation of readers, Snapchat could be hoping the publisher captures an older generation of users. The messaging and media app has been maturing -- 46% of its U.S. audience is older than 35 now, a figure that used to be 24%, according to ComScore.

"The Snapchat audience is getting older, so it makes sense for the brand to expand the Discover content beyond entertainment and popular culture," said Jill Sherman, head of social media at DigitasLBi. "The race is on for Snapchat to keep people on the platform, as Facebook continues to chip away at the features that made Snapchat unique."

The Times is turning on a Snapchat channel as digital distribution of content becomes increasingly important for publishers to reach audiences and generate new sources of ad revenue.

Mr. Wilson would not comment on the business arrangement with Snapchat, but The Times confirmed that it would be able to see ad space in its own channel. Most Discover publishers split ad revenue with Snapchat.

Discover is a hub of premium content within Snapchat with publishers like BuzzFeed, Cosmopolitan, ESPN and a mix of others who post daily editions with videos, articles, GIFs and specially crafted content for the Snapchat generation.

Snapchat claims to reach 150 million people a day on its platform, a fraction of whom visit or subscribe to Discover channels.

Partners have reported mixed success and say it is a heavy commitment of resources. But, for successful publishers, they can generate millions in ad revenue a year and tap into a new generation of potential viewers.

Snapchat's last official numbers revealed Discover attracts 100 million monthly visitors across all the channels. The platform will account for about $245 million of Snapchat's $800 million in ad revenue this year.

The New York Times plans to put six production staffers on the Snapchat edition, which will be available weekdays.

"Whether it's Facebook Live or it's 360-degree video or virtual reality," Mr. Wilson said of expanding The Times into new tech formats, "we need to make sure we can do it at a level of quality editorially and make it work from a commercial standpoint."