Why Brands Like Nascar Actually Love the Snapchat Redesign

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Snapchat's logo adorns a Nascar racer's car in October 2016.
Snapchat's logo adorns a Nascar racer's car in October 2016. Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images

Consumers may not be big fans of Snapchat's redesign, but brands are another story.

Nascar says that since the app's update, the number of viewers who watch its stories increased 80 percent. So while a number of users have revolted against the new Snapchat—there is a petition to go back to the earlier version—brands are finding reasons to love the new look.

One of the biggest gripes from users is that it's harder to find messages from friends while brands, publishers and influencers have a more prominent position on the platform. That helps explain why Nascar is attracting more viewers, according to Nick Cicero, CEO of Delmondo, a social analytics and data platform that works with Nascar and other publishers on Snapchat.

"There was already a solid base of followers," Cicero says. "So to jump 80 percent on top of that means there was this buried audience. There could have been a lot more people following Nascar than were previously being exposed to that content."

"Right out of the gate, we're seeing viewer metrics that tell a very positive story," says Scott Warfield, the racing group's managing director for social and digital content. "The update is surfacing Nascar content and helping us showcase the sport to substantially more users."

Discover, which is Snapchat's media program for companies like BuzzFeed, Vice, Hearst, Time Inc., Viacom and others to run their own channels and split ad revenue, was given its own section in the redesign. With the redesign, Discover is accessed with a right swipe and non-media brands and verified celebrity accounts that appear there now have as much opportunity to reach audiences as those privileged media partners.

"It's like being in that first wave of Discover partners," Cicero says. "Verified accounts now have this special status on Snapchat."

Snapchat has not revealed how it determines the order of content in the new Discover stream, but it is similar to how Facebook uses an algorithm to sort who sees what in the News Feed. The order of the content in Snapchat's stream, and the amount of clutter, could be signifcant factors contributing to the success or failure of any given publisher there.

Part of the impetus for the redesign was for Snapchat to encourage more interest in the Discover section and improve its relationship with publishers and advertisers by giving them more of a stake in the platform. Snapchat is also trying to appeal more to influencers, the web celebrities who brands pay to lift their digital messaging by sending it out to their followers.

Last week, Snapchat announced quarterly results showing signs of growth, with 187 million daily users and $286 million in revenue in the fourth quarter, a 72 percent jump from the year before.

Snapchat also announced that almost a quarter of all its users had the redesigned app, which would be fully deployed by the end of March. This week the chorus of critics grew louder, with many users, especially young ones, frustrated by the update.

There were hiccups for some people who lost videos and photos stored in their phones when they updated Snapchat, and others were confused by the new layout.

But the redesign is likely here to stay because it could open up more opportunities for Snapchat to make money and work better with brands, says Ryan Detert, CEO at Influential, a company that matches brands with influencers.

"Snapchat is trying to make this resurgence," Detert says. "The next big step, beside keeping the user base happy, is trying to keep the people who monetize the platform happy."

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article erroneously attributed comments about Snapchat's redesign to Chris Detert, president of marketing at Influential. The speaker was his brother Ryan Detert, CEO at Influential.

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