Snapchat Redesign Splits Social From Media

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This is how Snapchat's redesign works

Snapchat has revealed a redesign that gives publishers their own area of the app, away from messages from users' friends, and empowers an algorithm to decide what media content people see.

CEO Evan Spiegel showed off the revamped app in a 60-second video proclaiming that Snapchat was making social media better by dividing its components.

"One of the complaints we've heard about social media is that photos and videos from your friends are mixed in with content from publishers and creators and influencers," Spiegel says in the video. "But your friends aren't content. They're relationships. That's why today we're separating the 'social' from the 'media.'"

What Spiegel means is that the Discover section of the app, which shows channels run by media companies like BuzzFeed, NBCUniversal, Hearst, 21st Century Fox, Tastemade, will appear on one side of the app to the right of the camera. Messages from friends will be on the left.

Previously, content from friends mingled and competed with professional content in one pane on the right.

Spiegel had announced earlier this month that a redesign was coming, right after Snapchat reported third-quarter results that showed the company struggling to meet advertising goals. The updated version of Snapchat will roll out over the next few weeks, the company said Wednesday.

The new look is designed to make the app easier to use and drive more viewers to videos from media partners. The new Discover page also has a new ad unit called Promoted Stories, which debuted last week and let brands create Discover channels filled with their own content.

Discover is also now a vertical scrolling experience, replacing a layout of horizontal rows. Discover publishers create magazine-style cover tiles to draw people into their channels, and a number of the partners update their channels daily.

Under the old design, some publishers had been struggling to maintain their audience as more media outlets joined the service and created tougher competition. Many media companies have also not seen as much ad revenue as they would like from their Snapchat partnerships. Advertisers can buy ads inside media companies' channels, going through the publishers or Snapchat to place the order.

The new algorithm approach to curating content could help personalize the content to Snapchat users, and show each person only what they're most likely to watch.

"While technology and data will help us do a better job of serving the right content to the right people, human curators will help moderate and program your content experience," Snapchat said in its announcement on Wednesday.

The company is also touting its curated media offering as an alternative to "fake news" on other social channels. Snapchat has been trying to capitalize on the stumbles of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube during the election, when their more open media policies allowed a flood of disinformation to spread.

Snapchat is always looking to set itself apart from the crowd, doing things that feel different from the rest of social. Its initial disappearing-photos function was created as an answer to the permanence of Facebook posts, which remain online forever.

With the redesign Spiegel is hoping to show the company can still out-innovate the industry, solving problems like "fake" news and separating friends from brands.

"This will continue to set us apart from other platforms," Snapchat's announcement said, "and help us ensure that each user sees multiple perspectives from a wide variety of publishers and creators, and continue to protect our community from filter bubbles and fake news."

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